The Daily Groove


Children in their natural state are totally focused on pleasure. They aim to maximize the FUN in every moment. We can learn a lot about practical happiness by observing them.

For example, when kids are playing a ball game, and the ball lands too close to the line to tell if it's "in" or "out," they don't waste their time and energy arguing about it. There's no fun in that!

Instead, someone calls out, "Do-over!" and they all return to the beginning of the last play to have another go at it.

The do-over is a great tool for parents, too. When an interaction between you and your child turns sour, just stop, remember that you'd rather feel good than be 'right,' and say, "Let's have a do-over!"

Then you can redo the interaction with a clear intention to enjoy it.

My wife and I use do-overs with each other, too. It's way more fun than fighting!

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beautiful re-do

Dear Scott,

Yesterday I experienced a clear and satisfying do-over with my son. I surprised him after school with a ride because it was colder than the morning and *I* wanted to give him the favor of a ride. But then I tried to turn the car into a control-device, by telling him I wanted him to come with me while I registered him for summer camp, on the way home. He started to object and say he wanted to be brought home, and I went spiraling down into an internal reaction about how he's ungrateful, look what I do for him and he doesn't appreciate it, how have I managed to raise such a selfish kid, etc, etc, and my energy suddenly soured.

He insisted that I pull over and let him out, I complied grudgingly and with criticism, and he slammed the door and walked the rest of the way home (not far at all). I stormed off and registered him for camp, a boring process of form-filling and check-writing. (What was I thinking, imagining it would be good to bring him along?)

As I drove home I saw so clearly how my initial impulse to give him a ride and summer camp was a free gift, something I wanted to give, but I'd poisoned it by sending the message that he's an ingrate, doesn't deserve it, and I'm a victim somehow with a rude son. I went right back to my own childhood, feeling this very same bitter vibe from my mother, who used to call me "selfish" as if that were the worst possible accusation, and who went on at length about her endless sacrifices to us kids.

I felt a wave of gratitude to my son for his forthright rejection of that vibe from me, the way he insisted I let him out of that obligation-car I'd attempted to entrap him in. I wanted to apologize right away, and when I walked in the door he had left a note: "Sorry Mama" on the floor and was sitting on the couch waiting for me.

We engaged in a beautiful do-over and I told him how I'm trying my best to do this mothering job in a new way, in a way that feels best to me, and even though I get caught on some old hooks from my own childhood hurts I love that we can apologize as soon as it feels bad and learn and go back to connection together. And I told him I love how strong his sense of self is, that I admire it.

Thanks for your wonderful letters, Scott, I truly appreciate them, and you.