A bloke I dated off the internet once (in my old, different life) requested that his dates should be ‘smart enough to know how to be happy’. At the time I scoffed at that, in my head if not actually to the guy’s face, thinking it sounded a bit like US-style psychobabble – you know, like somebody having ‘streetsmarts’ or ‘booksmarts’. What would be a good expression? ’emotionsmarts’, or I suppose ‘happysmarts’.
I can’t quite remember but I’m sure that relationship had a disastrous end, in which he didn’t ring me and I wrung my hands a lot, or I put out too soon and never heard form him again. I’m not cut out for internet dating, though I have real respect for those people who are self confident enough to stick it out until someone nice comes along.
Anyway. I realised the other day that actually this bloke, although a lying shyster in some respects, was completely right on the knowing how to be happy thing. And, actually, I don’t think I do. This is quite amply demonstrated by the fact I’m keeping a moany blog about the rubbish bits of having small children, when in reality there are at least as many brilliant, joyous bits. I am, in fact, a bit of a miserable old worrywart and I do, in truth, come from a long line of miserable old worrywarts (sorry guys, but you know it’s true).
How, then, am I going to get my kids to know how to be happy? Is it possible? With luck, happiness is genetically programmed and they’ve inherited both their father’s booksmarts and his happysmarts too. It makes him ever so slightly smug, but hurrah for that. If it’s more nurture than nature when it comes to happiness, does that mean I have to pretend to be an optimist? Because I’m not sure I can. Or maybe I can, and if I do, I’ll turn into an optimist anyway (see, I’ve started already). Are there classes you can go to? I want Ziggler and Pickle to be able to make the best out of bad situations, and decide what they want to do and -gasp!- do it, rather than lighting another cigarette, ordering another pint and worrying about which knickers they’re going to wear while they’re doing whatever it was in the first place. A tall order in my family.
Ziggler had her first day of nursery on her own today. She did not want to go. She wanted to stay with mummy. But yes, she wanted to do painting and dressing up and singing. But she didn’t want to go to nursery. She did not want to go through the door. Once she was there, though, she visibly straightened her shoulders, took a deep breath, and got on with it. And was happy when she came out. I’ve never been so proud.