The Trash Can Band

On average, my kids tend to be relatively happy when I pick them up from school (perhaps because they are leaving school), but every now and then, they have something extra exciting to share, and I can see it in their eyes before they even open the car door.  A couple of days ago, I saw that very look on my daughter’s face.  She jumped into the car with a massive grin so big it would have made the Joker envious.  I thought maybe it was Free Kitten Day at school, but of course that wasn’t happening until next week.  And then she revealed the big news. “Mom!  I got into the Trash Can Band!”

Naturally, I burst into laughter.  It was my instant reaction, and of course anything that makes her that happy makes me extra happy (excluding cutting her own hair or shirt, indoor basketball / indoor moon sand, and that time they got the sock stuck on a window ledge fifteen feet high).  I wasn’t trying to make fun of her or step on her feelings, but her smile disappeared and twisted into a hurt grimace in an instant. My heart broke when I saw her face fall.

Far be it from me to recognize that the best way to improve an initial misunderstanding is to go with a different approach, so I dug myself further into the emotional rabbit hole.  I went for levity yet again – my go to defense mechanism when it comes to diffusing an uncomfortable situation. I explained that I wasn’t teasing her by laughing, but I hadn’t been aware of her love of the trash can musical arts.  To the surprise of no one in the universe, she became angrier and it devolved from there.  I switched to overt and clear validation of the “Well that’s so exciting!” and “I’m so proud of you!” genre, but she had already tuned me out and the moment – the joyful happy “I can’t wait share this with my mom” moment – was gone.

Kids are like rubber balls that bounce right back.  She was onto a different topic and back to normal before our car had even made it back home.  I, on the other hand, continue to wrestle with it days later.  I keep trying to get that excitement back. I want it for her. I want it for me.

How long will this keep circling around in my mind?  Her birthday is a couple weeks away, and I will probably end up buying her a metal trash can and drumsticks. I have visions of purchasing all of Amazon’s Oscar the Grouch paraphanalia because no one appreciates the magic of trash cans more than that surly muppet. Maybe I’ll switch from an SUV to a larger truck designed to move and empty dumpsters. Given the amount of garbage my three kids have left in my car over the years, this may be a logical vehicle change anyway.

Raising kids is like aiming for moving target.  Sometimes you are spot on, and sometimes you just miss the mark.  All I can do is try again, and hopefully I will get it right the next time.

That’s it from me for now.  Ironically, today is garbage day, and I have trash cans of my own to tackle.

***MoJo***

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