What Color is Your Sad?

Dear Dylan,

You threw a tantrum today. It was epic, tidal, seismic, orchestral. It summoned typhoons and geothermal eruptions; and all because we interrupted one flavor of fun, attempting to transition you to another. The frustration you saw on our faces, mirroring yours, was due to the extraordinary exertions we have made to keep you from being in this very state

Sometimes Parents make decisions with your best interests in mind and sometimes we need you to come along when we have something in mind for ourselves but can’t pawn you off on anyone. After all, you are still only 4 and not licensed for self governance, even (or especially) here in Italy.

You get frustrated when we pry you from the device we allowed you to fasten yourself to on the flight. You screamed when we sat in full view of the ice skating rink in the piazza, but told you it was off limits because the big kids were skating and it wasn’t safe for a four year old still struggling to find his ice skating flow state.

We uprooted you, subjected you to tedious travel, and plopped you down clear on the other side of the world for an entire month during the high holiday season; far from that little girl in your class whose smile you like. Far from the new family who just moved into that house straight out our back door through the woods with three kids who bracket your age.

And here you are in a strange land we didn’t expect to be so strange to you since you have been here before, both in person and via weekly remote Interwebs video feed. Your cousins, your Aunt and Grandmother are here. The language can’t sound all that foreign to you since you have heard it since the womb. And yes, those people speaking venetian dialect can be safely ignored since, in my opinion, they aren’t trying to be understood, which is after all the whole point of speaking.

I understand that different rules govern us here. There is a different rhythm and cadence to the day, even accounting for jet lag. You feel like the space between you and your friends back home, and even the people you see here, is wider, almost like they inhabit a different plane of existence. It makes you feel lonely. Hence the tantrums over little moments where you felt reconnected and we interrupted it. This is why you cry.

But this isn’t sadness. How do I make you understand? This is your persistent and insatiable hunger for the limits of things, for experience. This is your appetite for knowing and being known.

We want you to have these experiences now as stress inoculation against real sadness; the sadness of regret, of unfulfilled dreams, unrequited love; Mountains not climbed and relationships broken and unmended. The sadness of old age and all of those inevitable missed opportunities. The sadness of painful calls to distant family.

We hope to keep you from the all too common sadness at the end of the journey where people failed to have experiences in foreign lands, who left relationships and finances untended and now experience true loneliness, so much so that death can’t even be bothered to call on them.

The little girl smiles and friends through the woods will be there. Your grand mother, your aunt and cousins, and Italy, and this holiday season here as it is right now, will not. So be joyful, young Dylan. Defer all of the sadness you can for later years, when it will have been earned.

Live long and prosper

dylandad-marosticaLove, Dad

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