As Ben lay his head down on the pillow, he said to me with unbridled excitement, “I can’t wait to get my white belt tomorrow!”
My immediate thought was this: He’s not getting his white belt on the first day of class! He’s going to be so disappointed when he finds this out…
“Ben, I don’t think they give out white belts the first day of class. Don’t get your hopes up, okay?” His face immediately crumbled + squished into a cry and tears pooled in his eyes. “I’m not talking to you!” he shouted. “You just ruined all my happiness!”
And this is what we do, right?
With love in our hearts, we try to protect our kids from sadness and pain. We try to shield them from what we think will hurt more – being blindsided by disappointment. It’s vulnerable to want something. Especially if we don’t know if we will get it. We would rather say to ourselves, Well, it probably won’t happen. Or, It would be nice if it happened, but I don’t really care. We get so good at protecting ourselves that often our desires never even make it to our radar.
I could see in this moment with Ben that I really was ruining his happiness. I was squashing his delight. I was telling him in some subtle way to not want what he might not be able to have. Probably because I couldn’t be with the vulnerability of it.
Could I have just let him have his excitement?
The next day we went to karate class. And after breaking a board in two, Ben earned his white belt. ON THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS.
And me? I earned a valuable lesson in desire. (Maybe even a white belt)
We want what we want. We will get it or we won’t.
But it takes courage to want something. It leaves us vulnerable and that’s why it feels scary.
But to desire is our birthright. And maybe even half the fun. Maybe even half the joy.