When I was little, I dreaded disappointing my parents. Yeah, I got spanked a few times and was sent to my room more times than I can count, but the worst punishment of all (and the one that really kept me from repeating whatever terrible thing it is that I did), was disappointing them. They didn't even have to say anything; I could just see it in their eyes.
I used to think there was nothing worse than disappointing my parents. And then I had kids.
Disappointing my kids is way worse.
First, we pulled Sydney out of gymnastics this summer so that we could do swim lessons and start piano lessons. Well, the place we want to do swim lessons at requires the kids to take one lesson a day for two straight weeks and I couldn't find two full weeks in a row where we didn't already have plans (Vacation Bible School, trip to San Antonio, etc.). So that was a no-go. And then the piano teacher I'd lined up canceled due to childcare "issues." So no gymnastics, no swim lessons and no piano (which makes for one very looooooong summer, I might add).
Second, we had to cancel our trip to the Florida Panhandle thanks to the lovely oil spill. While the beach we were planning to go to isn't as filthy with tar balls as others, we don't want to take any chances with our kids' health. We'll lose our condo deposit, but we'd rather that than have Liam go into a horrible asthma attack due to petroleum fumes.
The boys didn't really know what we'd planned, but Sydney did and telling her we weren't going just about broke my heart. She'd been looking forward to it for months, especially since she knew that this was the first big (out-of-state and not visiting family) vacation that we'd planned in years. We did our best to suggest some cool things we could do on our cliched "staycation," but the look in her eyes about killed me, especially when both she and I know that she'll have to hear about her classmates' summer trips to Disney and the like once school starts up again.
I thought I'd cheer her up by letting her host her very first sleepover this weekend. I invited two of her little friends from school and while one mother was just as excited as we were and accepted our invitation immediately, the other responded with, "Sorry, we don't allow S. to go on sleepovers yet." My rational, adult self completely understands this. However, my inner seven year old wanted to retort with, "Fine. I didn't want you to come over to my house anyway." Luckily, my adult self won over when responding to the other mother, but the thought of disappointing my child yet again made me want to cry. To make matters worse, the kids are recovering from a little stomach bug, so I might have to cancel on the friend who accepted so that she doesn't catch it. More disappointment for a little seven year old girl who's had a summer full of it.
I know disappointment is a part of life and I know that coddling my kids and protecting them from it is not good for them. But, you know, I can completely understand why some parents do it, especially if they've got a daughter whose "sad eyes" could win her an Oscar. Sigh.
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