Happy days may not be immediately obvious because at first glance they look kind of crappy.
For instance, it’s not quite 9:30 and here’s my day so far:
My kids woke up about 40 minutes earlier than expected and at least an hour and a half earlier than I would like to be awake.
Just as I decided to ignore them and doze off again, Shaun screamed bloody murder and rushed into my room shaking like a leaf. He was preceded by an equally perturbed cat.
Apparently, he forgot we have a cat and in his groggy state thought some sort of wild creature had snuck into the kitchen during the night and was waiting for a juicy delicious child to wander in unaware to become a tasty breakfast.
Thanks to the screaming and running, I was now wide awake but still in bed so I patted the covers and motioned for him to climb up.
We haven’t had a morning snuggle in a long time and it would have been even sweeter if my enormous child who is ¾ my size wasn’t trying to console himself by tunneling into my body through my shoulder.
Then his brother wanted in on the action. So, for about 2 ½ minutes we nestled under the covers together. It was cozy and smelled like clean hair. I almost blissed out on little boy pheromones when a knee hit my bladder and I had to bolt to the bathroom.
That did it, we were up.
In honor of it being 45 minutes earlier than I’d normally shove a cereal box in their general direction I decided to make the boys to a hot breakfast. I started heating the pot of milk and water for oat bran then turned to make tea.
I swear milk knows exactly what’s up.
If you stare at a pot of warming milk, it will not so much as simmer for days but turn around for one second and it’s Mt. Vesuvius all over the stove top in .009 seconds.
I sopped up the erupted milk and stirred the oat bran into what was left. I even snuck in a couple scoops of protein powder that went unnoticed thanks to generous amounts of cinnamon, butter, and maple syrup.
After their breakfast was served and the school lunch packed I made my AIP elimination diet compliant smoothie. A blend of apple, carrot, coconut milk, collagen peptides, with cinnamon, cloves, and fresh ginger and turmeric – I can’t eat much but I still eat (or drink) well!
Before I had a single sip of my pumpkin colored breakfast I heard frantic activity from the hallway.
Shaun was tearing around wildly looking for a tissue while using his hand to catch blood pouring out of his nose. I hastily maneuvered him back to the bathroom. There were crimson spots trailing down the hallway and the bathroom sink looked like someone had murdered a hamster.
Bloody noses seem to be a normal part of being 8. Unfortunately, Shaun doesn’t deal well with stress and bloody noses are an acute source of stress for him – and everyone else I suppose.
I talked him down using my best no-big-deal voice while smashing a clean rag up to his nostril.
He continued to panic about blood on his shirt and leg and I asked how it started. He blurted out that Cooper hit him. Cooper hollered back that he did no such thing.
A sober look flashed across Shaun’s face. He confessed Cooper had been under his comforter being some sort of monster and it was actually Shaun who whacked into Cooper.
Cooper appeared to be fine and carried on with his best efforts at not getting dressed.
The blood slowed and I handed Shaun a bag of frozen corn and a clean washcloth to hold over his face then got to work cleaning the murder scene.
While I sprayed Mrs. Meyers down the hall Shaun continued to complain about the blood on his leg. I told him not to speak for 2 minutes so his body could heal – really it was because I was already exhausted and it wasn’t even eight o’ clock yet.
He sat and pouted. I cleaned. At the kitchen doorway, I considered taking the process all the way into the next room, that floor is way overdue for a cleaning, but I caught myself just in time.
Finally, I got the now calmer kiddo cleaned up and sent him to (not) get dressed.
All things considered, we were still doing pretty good for a school morning. There was plenty of time left before we had to leave the house and the kids were in fairly pleasant moods.
Cooper brought out the checkerboard and asked me to play.
It turns out neither one of us actually knows how to play checkers. He came up with some pretty creative rules that didn’t seem to have any way to end the game. That’s probably good since 5-year-olds tend to get pissed if they lose a game.
I cued up a Spotify playlist and was treated to the exact right songs by Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens, and George Harrison – I have a 62-year-old’s taste in pop music.
A few minutes into the game Shaun joined us. We each took turns moving pieces from one square to another in any direction we wanted and earning back captured pieces when we captured the opposite color. It was pretty awesome.
Then it was time to grab shoes and go. Normally this is as simple as going to the door and putting on the shoes that were left the last time we came in.
Shaun’s shoes were nowhere to be found. He looked, I looked, and the clock ticked.
The entire morning of being ahead of schedule was about to go down the toilet thanks to a pair of missing shoes. His only pair of shoes.
He found one shoe and was still looking for the other when I decided there was no point in Cooper being late. After instructing Shaun to keep looking I walked Cooper the 2 ½ blocks to school. I kept hoping to see Shaun come running up behind us but he never appeared.
Back home I found him wearing two shoes, his jacket, and his backpack. The missing shoe had apparently been in the middle of my bedroom floor – who knows how it got there.
The moment you’ve been waiting for – How to have Happier Day
Walking to school I could see he was flustered. This kid has big feelings and sometimes one too many bumps in the road gets him bogged down. Relatable.
I talked to him about our whacky morning.
“Pretty crazy morning, huh Bud?”
“You’ve got a lot of feelings right now don’t you?”
“You got startled by the cat, you had a bloody nose, you lost your shoes, and now you’re late for school. That’s a lot of bumps.”
“What if you tell the story a different way? What if you say, I woke up early and got to snuggle in bed with my mom, I had a yummy hot breakfast and a nice mug of peppermint tea, my brother and I played in our room, we had a silly three-way game of checkers with my mom, and I got to walk to school just me and my mom. There were some other goofy things that happened but it was actually a pretty great morning.”
“Yeah, I got a bloody nose and lost my shoe.”
“True, but so is the other version. Which version feels better? You get to tell your story the way you want to and when you highlight the good stuff those bumps just roll on by.”
“I guess so.”
He smiled and scooted into his classroom with his head up ready to start fresh.
That’s how this all works. All the power of positivity mumbo jumbo boils down to simply telling your story in a way that lets you move forward. It’s not about ignoring the bad things that happen but putting them in their right place so they don’t take up more than their fair share of the narrative.
And when you learn to do that? A craptastic morning might be a pretty happy day after all.