Why I Don’t Want My Daughter to be Happy

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If you read the title of this post, please hear me out before you dismiss me as some freak parent who wishes misery upon her child. Even if you disagree with me on how I’m going to get where I’m going with this, I’m pretty sure we want the same thing for our kids.

Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that if you ask parents what they want most for their children, the majority of them will include in their answer some variation of “I just want them to be happy.” It’s not wrong to say it, but it depends on what you mean by happy. What I’ve discovered is that just as certainly as I don’t want my daughter to be miserable, I also don’t want her to be happy as our culture defines it. Happiness really isn’t good enough. Happy doesn’t cut it. What I want for her is so much more than happiness. I believe she is promised something richer, and I pray that she seeks and finds that richer thing, the apostle Paul’s ability to find contentment in all circumstances.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:11-12, NIV

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Most of us are too quick to settle for a fleeting kind of happiness. We think we deserve to feel happy, but that’s where the trouble starts. Feelings change. They’re notoriously unreliable. The world’s advice to follow your heart could lead you terribly astray. Not that there’s no place for heart. I’m a hopeless romantic, eternal optimist, glass-half-full kind of girl, but the dangers of following your feelings wherever they want to go are too great.

God never promises a life of feeling happy. Never offers a lifetime supply of fabulous circumstances. In fact, many times it’s quite the opposite and it can leave us wondering if God is even there, and if he is, then what kind of God must he be? (I’m in danger of digressing to another topic entirely, so I’ll bring it back around). What God offers is something beyond our feelings, something beyond happiness. A way to joy that only he can fill. In Christ’s love and forgiveness, we can be filled with that kind of joy–the ability to be satisfied whether we feel happy or not.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Even though they aren’t current, the pictures I chose to go with this post are chosen for the joy and happiness they express and because they embody the prayer we have for our daughter: May she be filled with joy. May she always have arms wide to the world, open big enough to hold all that God wants to heap into them. A kind of happiness only he can give.

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Why I Don’t Want My Daughter to be Happy

Budge’s: It was never about the burgers

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If you’re from Lafayette, Indiana (at least the part of Lafayette I’m from), you know spring has arrived when Budge’s opens (the way I have pronounced this name my whole life rhymes with budgie’s, not fudge’s). I haven’t lived in Lafayette since 1997, but I still love knowing when Budge’s opens, and I still claim that no one makes a cherry Coke like Budge’s (except maybe Frozen Custard, also a Lafayette original, also open seasonally. And perhaps McCord Candies, another Lafayette original, where they will make you a  cherry Coke super old school style–from an actual soda fountain. With the bonus that you can get it all year round). Do other towns have places like this? Definitely. Do they make a cherry coke or a twist cone? Undoubtedly. Is it as good as Budge’s? Probably, but it won’t seem so to anyone who grew up going to Budge’s. At a certain point, other things come into play. Things that might require you to use words like “quintessential” and “iconic.”  Things from a smallish hometown.

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Budge’s opens in early spring, but for me and the others who grew up in that neighborhood, Budge’s was more about summer. Summer at its finest. Absolute summer. Summer as it used to be, in elementary school days, before the realization of time and the slow intrusion of adulthood. Days when we played freeze tag and ghost-in-the-graveyard. Caught lightning bugs in jars fixed with grass and air holes, the golden-green glow lingering in the dark. There were swings sets and child’s treasures and freedom to roam. Part of the freedom was walking to Budge’s by myself.

When I was a kid, Budge’s was mostly about the candy. They had a huge candy display with all the classic favorites: Jolly Rancher sticks, Now and Laters (when they still ripped out your teeth and were really for now AND later, as opposed to these days when they’ve softened them to where they’re really only a NOW), Dubble Bubble, Big League Chew, Pixie Stix (especially the giant size), Astro Pops, candy cigarettes (what?!), and Fun Dip (the 3 pack with 2 sticks). I remember being short by a dime once and the woman working (one of the original owners, I believe, who seemed like an old lady to me, although I don’t know for sure how old she actually was) let me take my candy anyway, on the promise that I would bring the dime back later, which I did very dutifully, walking all the way home and all the way back with my dime to show her I was good for it.

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I remember being sad when they started downsizing the candy window. It happened slowly and now it’s not there at all. This change was a hard one. Hard in the way that it’s hard now to see some of the same candy we had then that tastes slightly different and the packaging has changed. Somehow I want it to be the same as it was. Isn’t that always the way? It’s  hard to watch things change. I don’t know why I expect my beloved candies to remain the same when nothing else does. Why wouldn’t they update the packaging or try to make it taste better? As human beings, we certainly don’t stay the same on the outside through the years and not on the inside either, if we’re lucky. I recently read this African saying:

It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.

I love it because it means it’s okay to change but it’s okay to bring some things with you from the past that were good and keep them as part of you. The candy may not be the same and I’m not either, but I love what I’ve brought with me from those days of buying treats at a local drive-in.

One thing I’ve noticed about my growing up friends that I now see on Facebook is that we all love the local stuff. Everyone loves it when Budge’s and Frozen Custard open for the season and no one can go to Lafayette without eating Arni’s pizza (some even have it shipped to where they live now). Whether these things are really that good or it’s the nostalgia making them taste that way, it doesn’t really matter. We’ve brought them and everything they mean right along with us.

Even though it’s called Budge’s Burgers, when I went there I almost never had anything but candy, ice cream, or a cherry Coke. The food isn’t bad, but it was never about the burgers anyway.

 

Budge’s: It was never about the burgers

A post about toothpaste but more than toothpaste

0228172343It’s not breaking news that sometimes life is overwhelming. It’s probably even a cliché to say it. I get overwhelmed more often than I should (but maybe not as much as I used to, so that’s something). Sometimes it’s big stuff. Sometimes not. But still overwhelming. This happens to me at the store when confronted with 521 kinds of anything I want to buy. The last time this happened I was in front of the toothpaste. I spent some time I won’t get back looking for the plain-Jane kind I wanted. Found what I thought was exactly right only to get home and find that it was close to what I wanted but the tube was all wrong. It was one of those that stands on its end because that’s supposed to be better. I can’t stand this kind of tube because the lids don’t close, the toothpaste leaks out, and there’s always a mess. I wanted the regular tube kind. But I wasn’t about to waste what I had and I sure wasn’t going back to the store to stare at the 521 kinds all over again, so however long it was going to take us to use that annoying tube up, I was going to have to deal with it. I rejoiced when it reached the it’s-going-to-need-a-clamp-in-order-to-squeeze-out-even-another-pea-sized-drop stage.

Aaron got to be the hero last night by examining all 521 toothpaste varieties to find what I had written on the shopping list, which was “Crest old school tube if possible.” The very wording expressing my doubt that what I wanted actually could be found. I was slightly anxious as he opened the cardboard carton, hoping it wasn’t a repeat of the tube from hell we had finally used up. I was so relieved to see that it was exactly what I wanted. Not only the tube shape but the type of toothpaste itself—the classic Crest opaque blue-white mint. I don’t need it to whiten, tighten, dance, taste like cinnamon, cherry, or bubble gum, or make my lunch for me (although, begrudging lunch fixer that I am, I would certainly buy it if it did).

I don’t think I’m being a curmudgeon and saying I don’t like choice, variety, or trying new things. I just want those things on my own terms. And those terms usually involve wanting the original form of something. If I want Triscuits, I almost always want original Triscuits. I don’t need  Triscuits fortified with kale or made with salt from the Dead Sea (I’m making things up right now. I have no idea if these varieties exist). Not that new varieties are bad (except any special issue Oreos. Just No. I barely like Double Stuff). I think there’s a reason the original endures. It’s the first. It’s good. Probably the best. (Do not take too many leaps into areas of life other than consumable goods here. My philosophy does not apply to things like siblings, for instance. And I’m speaking as the first born).

Though I still have to wade through the 521 choices, there is freedom in ignoring the vast variety and choosing the ONE thing you want and not worrying about whether this or that other thing might be better. It’s similar to the feeling I had when I quit coupons some years back. I’ve never regretted it and have such joy every time I toss entire runs of coupons in the recycling bin guilt free. (But think of all the money you could save. Nope). It saves me much more to choose not to be bombarded by the bombardment. #freedomfromchoice #longlivecrestorignal #cresttoothpaste

A post about toothpaste but more than toothpaste