the failure of hopes to manifest

A little over a year ago I wrote an entry entitled, {disappointment}.  It was written in response to just that, some disappointments our family was facing.

Funny that today, a Friday, the first day of a new month, the eve of a weekend filled with family activities and enjoyment, I find myself struggling with disappointment.

Our daughter wants to study in England.  Her plan is to be a foreign exchange student her junior year of high school.  She’s currently a freshman.  We found out last week England, Ireland and Scotland do not participate in the exchange program she would be a part of.  These countries feel the the US is not culturally different enough from them.  There are other countries she could choose.  France, perhaps?  She is in her third year of French.  Except France doesn’t accept vegetarians, which she is.

I realize it will work out.  She can go to another country and probably have the experience of a lifetime.  Or she can wait until college and study abroad then.  Or perhaps another plan will come to be.  But for today, it’s the failure of her hopes to manifest.

She really, for whatever reason, desires to go to England.  And it seems to be more than a phase.  As a parent, it can be difficult to monitor these things.  Is this feasible?  Is this out of the question?  Is this……?  She’s passionate about it.  To the extreme.  It’s like she’s ready to go, fly, explore.  And of course, we, as her parents, don’t want to hold her back.  Yet, it’s a big deal.  Moving across the world, that is.  But today, today England is not possible. 

There comes a point as a parent when you can no longer mask disappointments.  Kids come to the realization that life is unfair.  Life is not always pleasant.  There are rules that apply to us but we’d rather they do not.  Things don’t always make sense.  Algebraic formulas that work on paper don’t always converge with the realities of life.  People come, go, move, change, and so do situations.  And we can control very, very little.

Those are hard lessons for kids.  Those are hard lessons to convey as parents and guide our children through.  

When our children were young, a problem could be taken care of with an ice cream cone.  A consolation meal at McDonald’s could bring joy.  Now neither of our children eat meat, and an apple doesn’t make for the best treat.  I actually put together a small surprise for my daughter last week.  She was happy, grateful, seemingly touched.  Yet, she knows the happiness won’t last indefinitely and the disappointment is still a real feeling.  It simply can’t be covered up.  At least not for long.

Comforting a teenage girl is not easy.  It’s nearly impossible in our case, and I’m not certain comfort is what she wants or needs.  She wants a ticket to London, and that’s not going to happen as planned.  So we’ll modify and maybe purchase a ticket to Rome or Milan.  Or maybe Prague.  Time will tell.  Meantime, I’ll try not to obnoxiously [help], which is difficult, because being obnoxiously helpful is one of my specialties.  But again, a cheesy smiling mother is not what she needs.  She needs to work through the disappointment, establish an alternative goal, and make it happen.  I’m certain she will.  And eventually she’ll need and want some help with the plan.

Seeing your daughter’s hopes fail to manifest is difficult.  It is frustrating.  It is a disappointment.  I look forward to seeing how this aspect of her life plays out. 

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