The Glad Game
For your 12th birthday, COVID came to visit. It was quite a surprise, just maybe not the one you were hoping for. With all the big feelings surrounding this disappointment, it got me thinking about The Glad Game. Remember, the one Pollyanna played? I know, I know. It’s not your favorite movie. It’s not mine either; I still cry every time. My grandma called those movies “tearjerkers.” But, I guess that’s the point. Sometimes life changes plans on us, giving us things we don’t want or taking away the things that we do. So, what’s most important is how we react. Do we get mad, or do we play the Glad Game?
Let’s play. I’ll go first.
First Turn: This last year has again brought some monumental changes for our whole family. We moved from the tiny town where you lived your entire lives. That’s hard, right? What about our house? Your bedrooms? The treehouse & swingset in the backyard? Your friends a few blocks away? The park by the river? There were so many things to love about our little village. But, if we’re playing by the rules of this game, there is a lot to love about where we landed. The new house actually has most of the items on your joint wishlist, which gets mega points for its creativity by the way. What other kids would ask for a dog barn (of all things) and an art & reading room? Done. You’ve got your dog barn & art/reading space…and the pool you also requested is right down the street! That’s something to be glad about.
My Turn Again: Two words – middle school. Ugh. I am GLAD we moved because even though middle school can be tough, you have each grown so tremendously. While the first few months were difficult, you have learned to “do school” again and do it well.
Molly, you have blossomed in your confidence & can often be found wearing your beloved top hat most places. You have found a group of friends who embrace your silliness & imagination, which is such an awesome gift. And, can we just talk about that Honor Roll all three quarters?!? You are a wonder, Molly Joy. Your creativity and curiosity are limitless.
Wyatt, you have become comfortable with yourself and are learning to be okay with quiet and solitude. You stand up for other kids who cannot stand up for themselves and are counted on by your teachers to help lead in those tougher social moments. This is a special kind of courage that not many people have. Remember to always hold tight to your convictions.
One Last Time: Going to school on a birthday might seem like the worst kind of punishment, especially when Gramma was supposed to be here and we have always taken that day together as a family. But, we’re still playing the game, remember? There is a lot to be glad about. Wyatt, you were asked to represent the entire 6th grade and speak to the fifth graders – this is an honor…one I’m not sure you fully recognize. Being asked means your teachers recognize your hard work, your persistence, your sense of fairness…even in your own “newness” this year. Molly, you’ll finally get to see your friends after a week of isolation. I know the routine of school brings you comfort, and with your new buddies, it’s been a place to which you look forward to going each day. Your energy and enthusiasm for learning new things, your drive to grow will all take you so far in life.
It’s not about what happens; it’s about how we handle it. Do we act or react? Lead or be led? Do we pretend everything is fine or feel the feelings and move through them? A little fear, a little discomfort forces us to grow…to be glad. A little sadness teaches us to appreciate the happy moments even more.
Learn to wait. Learn to observe. Learn to be okay with the silence. Learn to be present.
Be glad of the challenges, the disappointments, the hurts, the upsets. Be glad for they have taught you to be strong, to find joy in the unexpected, surprise in the experience. Be glad that you didn’t give up, that you’ve found things that excite your interests. Be glad for the opportunity to live.
I can be glad for the hours and hours of sleeplessness, the temper tantrums, the time outs, the spit up, the arguments that needed diffusing. I am glad. Because each of those things has taught me more than any other how much I love you…how much I would do for you…how much I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it. I am glad for all of those moments that made me want to alternately cry or tear my hair out. I am glad because you are mine and I get to be yours.
Happy 12th birthday to my favorite hell-raisers. May this next year bring you an appreciation of not just the past, but of all the possibilities to come…because they are boundless.