So, my graduating fifth grader went on an absolute celebrity rampage, talking about Josh Peck, Lord, Selina Gomez, Victoria, and on, and on. In fact, it went so far, it was at the point of distraction: I checked out!
That was followed by a wish list a mile long – I wish I lived in California. I wish I lived in Hollywood. I wish I lived in Burbank. I wish . . . I wish . . . I wish!
The wishes were followed by even more wishes: “I wish I were seventeen; have you ever seen 13 going on 30, Dad?; one thing I would want to do if I could live to be 100 is meet Josh Holloway;” and on, and on, and on.
Nothing was spared. ”I can’t wait to get a new bed. Did you see the bookshelf in PB Teens? I love that desk on page 23, don’t you? — it’s really long; it’ll fit the new laptop I want.”
In the midst of this inhumane water torture of incessant verbal bombardment, I couldn’t help myself.
I simply said, “Sweetie Pie, above all else, do you really want to be happy?” She said she did, of course.
It sounded a little bit more terse than that – as fifth graders are prone to do. It sounded like “of cooourse, Daaad!” One of those sing-songsy deliveries we all know, as parents, that bring us to the edge of wanting to beat our children.
Ignoring the tone, I simply said,: “Good! Then can I offer you the ultimate key secret to happiness?”
She nodded begrudgingly, if not a bit suspiciously!
So I said: “Perfect: the real key to happiness is simple. In fact, it is so simple that I don’t know whether you are ready to listen to it now since you have so many wishes and so many of them are very far away from Florida. But, if you really want, I’ll tell you what they are. Do you want to know?”
She said something akin to: “Stop, Dad. Of course I want to know. Stop playing games and tell me!”
That’s Isabella. She’s my Mother, minus 80 years.
So I said: “That’s fine, Sweetie Pie. The secret is very simple. The secret to happiness is wishing to be, at every moment, exactly who and where you are.”
“Let me rephrase that, the secret to happiness is being happy exactly where you are at every single moment.”
“But, Dad, come on, I haven’t met Selina, or Josh, or Lord, or anyone else I want to meet?” I want more.”
“Sweetie Pie, I get that. I know you haven’t. I’m glad you want more. And I want you to do whatever you want to do, and be whoever you want to be. But most important of all to me, as your Dad, is to know that you’re going to be happy in the process.
“After all, the world is filled with people who strive to do what they haven’t done, or be what they aren’t, and that’s wonderful.”
“I just want to make sure you try to do everything you want to do and be who you want to be, and, most importantly, be happy along the way. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, Dad; of course it makes sense,” she said. ”But how can I be happy if I don’t get all these things I want?”
“So,” I asked, trying again, ” you’re only going to be happy in life when you get what you want?”
“Of course not! But I still want what I want. Can’t I do that?”
“Yes, sweetie pie, you can, but life is too beautiful, and way too short. Just don’t hold happiness hostage in the process. Do you see what I mean?”
She said she did, but I suspect she didn’t.
I’ll try again in the 6th grade!