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.