Fun: Lost and Found

It seems the fun factor in my older’s life is not reaching satisfactory levels.  Lately, my too-soon-to-be teenager announced that he’s not having enough fun.  His homeschooling work isn’t fun, so it’s just impossible to do.  Not too hard (he’d let me know), not too easy (he’d also let me know), but just not fun.  In fact, his whole life is less fun than it was three years ago.

It’s a sad day when you break it to your child that no promise of never-ending fun came with the birth certificate.  My reaction to his distress was to let him in on that fact:  no promises of a fun life come with existance.  Just for the record, those were hardly words of comfort to hom.  He proceeded to wail about life being endless work, only for the gain of money, and that life was, therefore, pointless.  Ouch.

This time, I tried recalling the hunter/gatherer lifestyle and my opinion at surely that wasn’t fun 24/7.  No dice.  His life is not fun enough, and, as an adult, he’ll work for money and fun will have no part.  Could happen, I admit, but I’ve often discussed creating a career around what you love.  I reminded him that my work as a physician assistant is, while not always fun, deeply satisfying to me.  Yeah, there are difficult patients and too much documenting.  But supporting people through illness and teaching them how to maintain their health brings me meaning.  Not fun, but something better. I encouraged him to search for what gave him satisfaction and a sense of meaning (beyond playing computer games and provoking his brother).  No response.

His pain is real, and I don’t mean to mock my older at all, but please permit me a deep parental sigh and a bit of an eye-roll (out of his sight, of course).  I admit I didn’t manage to bite my tongue before regaling him with what’s not fun for me:  toilet cleaning, meal preparation, vacuum belt replacing — I’d better stop before I’m in tears.  It pains me to hear his genuine angst at the reality of life.  Plenty of life isn’t fun, and that message kicks everyone in the pants at some point.  Life is often challenging, frustrating, disappointing, and even downright sad, but in and from those moments can come satisfaction, meaning, and growth.  And knowing you’ve grown and made one life a better place for someone?  That’s what I call fun.

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5 thoughts on “Fun: Lost and Found

  1. I'm dreading this moment with my own kids – I remember hearing the phrase "Life isn't fair" from my parents on several occasions and retorting that "You brought me into this life, you should make it fair!!" It never worked.I like your response, though. Compassionate and yet realistic, so I'll put that in my parenting file for future use. 🙂

  2. Sarah… my response is that I can send Json to your house for a day… THAT would be fun! Just kidding. That is a tough question, and one that I haven't heard yet. I've heard that school isn't fun and that chores arent't fun, but not life in general. What an old soul Adam has, to be thinking about these big life questions: finding the meaning in life. Just curious… does he know what he thinks IS fun? Maybe he can make a bit of time each day for those things he does find fun? Thanks for sharing…

  3. this conversation sounds awfully familiar! 🙂 I tend to respond with with the, "oh you think your life isn't fun, how do you think you'd enjoy my list of drudgery" as well, although now you've got me thinking that a response of "life sucks, deal with it" probably isn't the healthiest for my children. Good luck to Adam in finding some things he finds 'fun'.

  4. I'm sure Jason would provide a good deal of fun, but he tends to forget that he's had fun and that not everything is indeed fun. I think it's part of the ADD — he tends to be so much in the moment (and such a poor planner) that the moment overwhelms him. Ahh, parenting.

  5. Sarah: I followed your link this morning to your blog (which I have done once or twice before) and found this timely entry. Last night my DS12 cried about losing his childhood. Really the same issues as your own conversation. But he focused on purity and innocence…and a little fun. My answer is that life does change as we start to feel the importance of our decisions and actions and that is somewhat unavoidable but that we can stay young at heart if we make that choice.I truly feel that fun does not have to leave. Our perception of fun might change over the years but there are many childlike and deliciously joyful adults out there and a good job as a preteen or teen is to find the secret of carrying fun and joy into adulthood.I also admitted that his parents were a bit too serious too young. We both remember that people were always commenting on our maturity when we were quite young. I had to make sure of that happiness coming with me through life and finding a career (and alongside that career a way to raise and homeschool my family) to keep me smiling. I have had a few dead ends but that is the fun part of life too…making mistakes and knowing that a new day means new chances.Thanks for writing your blog!Your friend (anonymous here but a virtual friend whom you have met).

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