My heart wept as the girls, tweeners, quietly sobbed in disappointment.  Words would not come, the only thing I could do was engulf them in a big hug.

Sometimes, the words.  They are too much.

I had forgotten my younger sons had stood to the side.  I heard others speak words.  On our drive home my sons pondered what  they could’ve done to comfort.  They had stood mutely by witnessing what disappointment looked like.  When you want something so bad and it doesn’t happen.  The lists that categorize and sort are here to stay.

But they don’t need to define you.

The words popular,  appearance and acceptance define these years as these tweeners try to define who they are.  Parents worry their children’s voices will not be heard and they’ll get lost in the shuffle.  That they won’t belong to  the “in” crowd or get left behind; alone.  We teach our kids to speak up, to stand up for themselves.  To make their presence known.

Actions.  They speak louder than words.  Those who speak the loudest need validation from others to feel worth. 

This isn’t isolated to tweeners navigating through middle school.  This is real life.  The person who shares their newest car purchase, the fancy vacation, the job promotion.  The dad who talks of his son’s latest track record, the straight As, the scholarships to college.   The mom who lists the works she’s done, the committees she’s served.    These things define who they are.  They deserve the medal for being best provider; best parent.  They want everyone to know it.

It is in the words left unsaid that defines a person.  Humility.  Grace.  Gratitude.  I tell this to all three of my sons, looking them straight in the eye.  I have often caught my children bragging and it is one of my biggest pet peeves.  Of course, this too, stems from my childhood.

For I was the apple of my father’s eye.  He was well-liked in our community and shared my accomplishments to all who would listen.  With a moment’s notice I was to play my piano repertoire or nod as he announced my current activities or grades.  And I’d cringe.  I knew my father loved me but the bar was always set and it was high.   People always expected great things from me and I knew, one day, that I would disappoint them.

And so I share this with my boys; underscoring that what matters is what lies deep inside.  I want them to be confident in who they are; not by the things they accomplish.  I am much more impressed with resilience; how one handles the cruel things life throws one’s way.  The ability to pick oneself up and start all over again.    Popularity and looks are fleeting.  These things have no value.

I echo the sentiments my girlfriend posts on Instagram.

The more we shelter children from disappointment, the more devastating future disappointment will be. ~ Fred Gosman.

Life.  It is full of them.  The faster we learn how to navigate through disappointment; the more successful we, and our children, will be.  It is this trait that brings great things.  Einstein.  Mozart. Even Steve Jobs.  Learning from what doesn’t work makes us self-assess; to improve.  Tenacity.  Determination.


When disappointment comes, and it WILL come, you can either be blindsided or rise from the ashes.  I choose to be a Phoenix.  I will fly away silently.





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