By the time we are adults, we have learned, or at least we should have, that life can throw us curve balls, that plans get broken, and our expectations in life are not always met. But these are hard lessons for children, especially when they have been looking forward to something for so long.
This spring break, I had planned to take my younger daughter to New York City for the first time to go sightseeing. The original plan was to meet her grandparents there. But because of some last minute health issues, that didn’t work out. So, we readjusted and decided to spend two days in New York and then head to Pennsylvania to visit with family. The main event was to be a Broadway play, The Lion King, Wednesday afternoon.
We got on the plane at the crack of dawn Wednesday morning (what was I thinking?) and learned that a mechanical problem would delay the flight and cause us to miss our connection. As a result, our choice was to fly from Raleigh to Nashville to Chicago to New York and arrive well after the show we were scheduled to attend began.
It would have given us less than 24 hours in New York as we were scheduled to head to Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon. The other option was to switch airlines and pay the equivalent of a monthly mortgage payment to purchase two same day tickets to New York.
Given the two very bad choices, I asked the airline where else we might fly without spending the entire day in airports. As it turned out, they could get us to Philadelphia at a reasonable hour, changing planes just one time. So, it was off to the grandparents’ house.
There’s no doubt that my daughter was disappointed, but she handled it with aplomb. I explained to her that we would go to New York another time when we had real time to spend there, hopefully with her grandparents, and that this trip was simply going to be about spending time with family now.
There were no tears or temper tantrums, she simply nodded solemnly and told me with great sincerity that she was looking forward to going to Pennsylvania. She is a child who continues to show me her ability to be flexible in the face of adversity, and I believe this will serve her well in life.
When we arrived, we discovered our luggage had been lost in the confusion of changing destinations and planes. This, of course, added to my stress level, but I tried to buck up for my daughter’s sake.
The trip did improve, however. The next day we went to the zoo and a friend of my father’s got us behind the scenes where my daughter, who is an animal lover, got a chance to brush and pet a 4,000-pound rhinoceros named Tony. It’s an experience she will never forget.
We also learned that the Broadway tickets we thought were going to go to waste were given to a little girl through a charity my brother-in-law was affiliated with, a little girl who never in her wildest dreams would have been able to go to such a show. Hopefully it’s an experience she will never forget.
Sometimes, you just have to accept that things happen in life for a reason, and often those reasons aren’t clear to us at the moment. It is a tough lesson to learn, even for adults, but it is one our children will no doubt learn from us…
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.