Handling the Disappointment

For the past month, my family and I had been looking forward to traveling to the Chicago area. We were going to stay for four days with my cousin (who I adore) and her children (which my children adore). We had planned on going into the city to Taste of Chicago and to the Art Institute of Chicago as well as to a great fireworks display.

On Friday morning, my oldest son woke up quite ill. We took him to the doctor and he had strep throat. Trip cancelled.

All of us were disappointed, to say the least. My son was fairly miserable on Friday, so we had a quiet day around the house. On Saturday, he felt better and by mid-afternoon he asked us when we were leaving to go to Chicago. When we told him that the trip was off, he broke down in tears, as you might expect from a five year old who just lost a trip he’d been looking forward to for a month.

The first reaction my wife and I had was to do something splurge-y to replace the trip. What sort of big, fun thing could we do to replace the disappointment of losing our trip?

After we thought about it for a bit, though, we realized that what we were missing was the fun of the trip, not the splurge of the trip, so we spent the rest of the weekend with that idea fully in mind.

We had a movie marathon with the lights turned down low and bowls of popcorn for everyone (so that the child with strep wouldn’t be sharing his germs with others).

We got some dyes out of the art kit and made tie-dyed shirts for the entire family.

We hooked up the grass sprinkler to the water hose on a warm afternoon late in the weekend.

We filled up our inflatable kid pool that day, too.

We played several elaborate games.

We made giant castles out of Legos and Magna-Tiles, too.

We made everyone’s favorite meals out of the foods we had on hand (and got everyone except for the sick child involved in the cooking).

When our sick child was feeling well, we went on a bicycle ride through our neighborhood.

In the evenings, my wife and I stayed up late – not cleaning, as is often the case, but playing games with each other and sitting on the deck together sipping wine using a bottle we’d had in the cupboard for a while.

When we took the children to visit their grandparents late on Monday (as was the plan before the illness – we were going to drop them off in the middle of our return trip from Chicago), we realized that even though we had all missed out on a trip we had been really looking forward to, we still managed to have a very fun weekend anyway without splurging on things to “take the edge off” of our disappointment.

When you miss out on something fun that you’ve been looking forward to, don’t just replace that fun with stuff. Instead, replace that fun with some other flavor of fun. It’s a lot cheaper and makes a lot more sense.

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