For those of you who haven’t seen Avenue Q (and I highly recommend you do), or are German speakers (this I don’t feel as strongly about), are familiar with the term “schudenfreude,” happiness derived from the misfortune of others. I’ll wait while you take a moment to Google the song. **elevator music here**
Our family recently embarked on a journey cross country to Florida and the Caribbean. Knowing our temperaments, and those of our children, we’d never previously attempted any journey much longer than a Disney film, let alone eight days.
Tantrums, meltdowns and just general disagreeableness are of course a part of childhood (and a mainstay of my marriage, but that’s another post entirely). But travel exacerbates them in the young and our modest adventures almost always left my husband and I exhausted, frustrated and vowing to be better parents to make the next trip smoother and easier (if only we weren’t so tired and frustrated!). Oh, and in dire need of a drink.
So how pleasantly surprised were we when our boys were moderate to major superstars on our epic journey? Quite. We did have our share of spats and issues, but we were able to get through them thanks to the never-ending novelty of the ship and Disney’s amazing cast and staff (and snacks).
With so much free time not dealing with kid issues, we instead used that time wisely and to our advantage: by mocking the less fortunate parents and their hysterical or otherwise ill-behaved offspring. As we walked with happy children to dinner and passed by another child wailing at the top of their lungs in the hall, my husband and I would turn to the other and proclaim “Hey, it’s not us!” A kid bully at the pool? Phew, not ours! The naked runaway toddler on deck? Suckers! Our kids are fully clothed. They even match AND have on clean underwear. Top that.
It even turned into a family activity as my kids quickly realized how badly a public fit looked and began to point out and comment on them. June Cleaver wouldn’t have used schudenfreunde as a bonding experience, but I totally did. And, I’m happier for it.