Mr. Sensitive

January 31, 2012

Preemptive Disappointment

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:08

I decided to wait outside on the front porch for Reagan yesterday.  Ordinarily, mid-afternoon is prime writing time for me, except if Brinky’s declared it Prime Brinky Time on a particular day; furthermore, Reagan, Jenny, and the girl who lives across the street usually walk home from the bus stop together.  Yesterday was different because Jenny was home sick, I’m on an off week in the Book War, and Brinky was having a massive nap, so I decided it might be nice for Reagan if she came down the street to find her loving father waiting outside to greet her.  It was a spur-of-the-moment thing; the neighbor girl came down the street with her brother well ahead of Reagan (I watch for the kids through my office window) and I thought Reagan might be sad, thinking Jenny was having a fun Daddy Day by herself.  In fact, Jenny wanted me to sit in her room with her and watch Harry Potter movies all day, to which I said, cast a spell to do the dishes and the laundry, clean the family room, and take care of your brother, and you’ve got a deal.  So I met Reagan, I gave her a hug, and she showed me a collage she made at school—that was it.  She asked me why I was waiting for her—I bet she was afraid something was wrong—and I said I just thought it would be nice.  Really, that’s all I thought about it.

So this morning, Reagan is sitting in the bathroom sobbing, and Katie and I can’t figure out why.  Turns out she’s sobbing because it was so nice that I was able to wait outside for her yesterday and she doesn’t think I’ll be able to do that every day.  She’s right that I can’t do that every day, but…really?  Reagan is that girl.  Something nice happens to her one day and she enjoys it for about one second before she moves on to being completely devastated that it might not happen every day.  This is how she was when she won the 2nd Grade spelling bee earlier this month.  She wasn’t elated that she won—she was relieved that she didn’t lose.  And then she moved on almost immediately from relief to worry—after all, next year’s spelling bee is only a year away, and she doesn’t even have the word list to start studying.

Oh, Ray Gun.  I didn’t teach her this, I swear—Jenny would be the same way, if this was learned insanity, and she isn’t.  It is my genetic gift to Reagan—preemptive disappointment.  Not discouragement, just disappointment; disappoint is useful, whereas discouragement, like happiness, is a useless distraction.  We are in constant competition—not with other people, but with a future that fears and hates us.  But Reagan is eight.  I can’t have been this crazy at eight.

I hope I was this crazy at eight.  I’d hate to lose at crazy to Reagan.



  1. That story breaks my heart almost as much as it breaks my heart to see the first flowers on trees in the spring (because I know they are just going to wilt and fall off within weeks). Or how I feel when I start to eat an awesome cheeseburger, just knowing already that there will come a point when I have no more cheeseburger.

    Comment by Jill Williams — January 31, 2012 @ 10:41 | Reply

    • Reagan knows how to break a heart.

      Comment by lbej — January 31, 2012 @ 10:43 | Reply

  2. I feel like you were that crazy at 8. On-Purpose alone gives you a leg up on most of the competition.
    That is a real heartbreaker of a story, though. That girl’s got the goods.

    Comment by Justin — January 31, 2012 @ 16:58 | Reply

  3. Right now, she’s the learner. Later, she’ll be the master. But when she strikes you down, you’ll become more powerful than she could possibly imagine. And then you’ll come back later as Hayden Christensen. From Jumper.

    Comment by Marcus — January 31, 2012 @ 17:16 | Reply

  4. Oh my Lord. No.

    Comment by niceowl — January 31, 2012 @ 21:02 | Reply

  5. […] That same morning, we were dealing with Reagan’s struggles with what Lee correctly called preemptive disappointment.  Lee had waited for her on the front steps after school the day before, and instead of being able […]

    Pingback by Life’s Lessons: Bad Mom | Your Girls and Boys — February 3, 2012 @ 14:44 | Reply

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