Updated on 07.02.11

Handling the Disappointment

Trent Hamm

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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  1. Carole says:

    Too bad about the disappointment. Those of us with children have been there. You handled it wisely.

  2. Roberta says:

    I love that you didn’t splurge to make up for the disappointment. You are teaching your children a valuable life lesson. Sometimes there are disappointments in life but we can go on without spending money because we “deserve” it.

  3. Cindy says:

    Oh, this is good! Not only can your children learn a lesson, but many of us adults. Thank you for sharing your difficult situation & your resolution.

  4. EngineerMom says:

    I really like this idea. It’s looking like we’re not going to have much money for certain trips this fall and winter that we normally take (mostly to see family over the holidays). I love the idea of just looking for some other ways to make things fun for our kids and us rather than spend a similar amount of money to stay close to home.

  5. rosa rugosa says:

    Good post, and a welcome reminder that we often throw money at a situation when there is a better, and far less costly solution available with a little thought and creativity.

  6. kristine says:

    When our kids were sick we did the same thing. The sick child would get to make shopping list of videos, and hubby would go to the library and get as many of them as possible. Popcorn and lights low. Fruit juice popsicles are great too- hydrating, but fun.

    The other thing parents sometimes cave into is breaking the rules as a treat. It’s usually a bad idea, as is splurging. Because then you will hear a million times “but you let me do it that once, why not again?”

  7. Joyful says:

    It’s great that you found some fun and frugal ways to take the edge of the disappointment in a cancelled and much anticipated trip.

  8. Amyk says:

    “who I adore?” — Trent, if you want to be a writer, please at least use the English language correctly!

  9. David says:

    Oh, nobody worries about “whom” anymore. Indeed, nobody worries about “anymore” any more, for the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

    These days, insisting on “whom” is like insisting on being called “Professor” just because you happen to be one – it is the distinguishing mark of a complete prat, and gives pedantry a bad name that it does not deserve.

    But “her children (which my children adore)” is about as wrong as it is possible to be. One could write instead “her children (dandelion my children adore)” and make about as much sense while sounding at least vaguely poetic.

  10. Emma says:

    Sorry about sick child. To cut the odds of cross contamination and as an ongoing fight (cheap fight) against germs I rinse and wash my kids cups and tooth brushed in undiluted Hydrogen Peroxide. I do it once a week year round. When someone had an infection in the house organic cleanser are often not enough, especially if child goes to school. Once a week wash kids toilet bowel , seat , sinks, door knobs with diluted clorox or Lysol. Streps like to come back.

  11. deRuiter says:

    (who I adore) and her children (which my children adore). Should be “whom” in both cases. If one’s passion is writing perhaps good grammar could be part of the mix, especially for a person who was an English major for a while. “These days, insisting on “whom” is like insisting on being called “Professor” just because you happen to be one – it is the distinguishing mark of a complete prat, and gives pedantry a bad name that it does not deserve.” Now this is funny, insisting that some grammar ought to be correct and that other correct grammar is “…
    the distinguishing mark of a complete prat…” I take it from this that some bad grammar is OK in a writer honing his craft, but some is still too bad to accept! Grammar’s correct or incorrect. But I do enjoy reading the work of someone who combines both “complete prat” (I adore this phrase!) and “pedantry”. David #9, comment more in the future, you’ve got style, even if I don’t agree with you 100%.

  12. marta says:

    ” especially for a person who was an English major for a while”

    He wasn’t. I believe he majored both in Biology and Computer Sciences.

  13. kristine says:

    Most people who express respect properly in most situations would also call a professor, Professor, without being prompted.

    In a world where people become famous for hideous behavior, and just for being famous (neat trick), it is a nice thing to see those who have earned a level of respect for a decade or so of hard work be addressed with the proper title of respect.

  14. Kevin says:

    “We took him to the doctor and he had strep throat. Trip cancelled.”

    Did you try giving him a glass of water?

  15. Trent, despite your flaws in grammar usage, I don’t think anyone can argue with the logic in this post! Good job in reminding us that we shouldn’t look at things like this as entitlements and fun is fun. You were looking forward to seeing family and taking advantage of some local attractions you wouldn’t normally have access to. No more, no less. The money spent should always be the secondary (but necessary for planning) thought.

  16. valleycat1 says:

    #13 kristine – I have siblings with PhD’s who have been college professors for more than 20 years, and they don’t particularly care about being called Professor OR Doctor. That said, I usually err on the side of ‘a level of respect’, as you put it, until the person says otherwise (‘just call me John’, or Mr. Doe is fine’).

  17. Carole says:

    Well, we’re not all professors and we understood his meaning. If he were having this published, he would probably have some English whiz go over it with a fine tooth comb.

  18. Josh says:

    Wow you grammer nits need to lighten up.

  19. Mister E says:

    Welcome to the comments Josh. Trent sets himself up as a bit of an easy mark to pick on and so that’s exactly what he gets more often than not.

  20. AnnJo says:

    @deRuiter and @kristine,
    I’m pretty sure David’s remarks were tongue-in-cheek – and also hilarious. David, I’ve only read a couple of comments from you, but want to know – do you have your own blog? If not, I hope you start one. Content is irrelevant; I’d read your writing no matter what its topic.

  21. AnnJo says:

    @Josh, for us “grammer (sic) nits” Trent’s second sentence is like the poke of a needle. The pain is fleeting and manageable, but also distracting and annoying. Lightening up would do us good, but isn’t as easy as you think.

  22. Vickie says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Nice reminder that we don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun family time. ☺

  23. Adam P says:

    I’m no grammar fanatic, but “and her children (which my children adore)” is a spork in the eye to read. I can forgive who/whom.

    That said, glad you made lemonade out of lemons, Trent.

  24. Kate says:

    #19: or perhaps the people who “pick” have nothing better to do than to find fault.

  25. Mister E says:

    #24: I think that if someone presents themselves as a professional writer then their grammar is fair game for critiquing.

    Picking on personal faults is mean. Picking on professional faults is perfectly legitimate.

  26. Lord says:

    This is why I read your blog. Too many times – I do splurge on something big when I am disappointed. However – those are purchases that I tend to regret afterwards ( e.g. clothes that are too trendy that I can only wear them on very rare occasions ). Thanks for sharing this experience.

  27. Cindy says:

    Maybe “her children” aren’t actually human.

  28. Michele says:

    #21AnnJo- thanks- ‘grammer’ made me almost as crazy as ‘who’ and ‘which’. Argh. Trent- good story, but I have to agree with some of the posters; don’t call yourself a writer and then use very poor grammar. It’s distracting.

  29. Kate says:

    I often “read” for people who are submitting written material for grants, awards, grades, etc. I have noted that many people have problems with the correct usage of who and which. It isn’t uncommon for even experienced and published writers to miss errors when they are editing their own work. Unless things have changed, I believe that Trent doesn’t have a copy editor. I would think if grammar mistakes really bothered those of you who continue to point them out, it might be kinder to e-mail Trent privately about your concerns.
    **Please note: this message may contain errors in spelling and/or grammar for those readers who are appalled by either.

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