When Kennedy was about three and Brantley about five, and Stinson was a few months from making his grand entrance, Wayne and I took the boys to Disneyland. Kennedy dreamed of meeting Goofy. Could not wait to strike up a lifetime friendship with Goofy. I’m sure he had in his mind a script for how the much-anticipated meeting would go.
Once inside the park, it doesn’t take long to have a Goofy sighting. Very early in our day, the monumental moment arrived. Goofy! In the excitement apparently Kennedy stuck his hand in Goofy’s face and Goofy pushed is aside. This small event went unnoticed by anyone, except Kennedy. When the boys came back to where we we were waiting for them, expecting a glowing account of the encounter, Kennedy, clearly distressed, summed it up like this: “Goofy pushed my hand!” Thinking we had not realized the import of this news, he said it louder: “GOOFY PUSHED MY HAND!” We soothed his broken heart, and thinking the matter over, went about our day riding rides, eating outrageously expensive food, buying ridiculous trinkets. Disney stuff.
The next morning the boys called their grandparents to report on how the trip was going. Brantley chattered enthusiastically, then turned the phone over to Kennedy. “Kennedy, how did you like Disneyland?” Kennedy’s response: “Goofy pushed my hand.” For quite some time, that was Kennedy’s account of his big trip to Disneyland. Goofy pushed his hand.
Lest you think this a fluke event, let me tell you about Kennedy and the GI Joes. Probably about the same year. Kennedy wanted GI Joes for Christmas. It was his only request of Santa. Santa thought Kennedy was too young for GI Joes, so Santa set about her Christmas shopping sure that Kennedy would forget all about GI Joes when he saw all the other great, fabulous toys Santa brought him.
On Christmas morning, Kennedy looked at all the presents wrapped and waiting under the tree and, in his little heart, just knew that they contained GI Joes. As he unwrapped each gift, he looked at it and said, “This is not a GI Joe!” and put it aside. Never once did he express delight over any of his gifts because– whatever they were– they wer NOT GI Joes. Would you like to know how Kennedy summed up that Christmas? “Santa Claus is mean!”
Now, thanks to the great Santa Claus hoax, he didn’t say, “My mom is mean!” So… there’s that.
Do you ever sum up life using the Kennedy matrix? Do you find yourself defining life in terms of the negative? Do you forget about all the great rides and the wonderful gifts because you had scripted out an expectation that that no one followed? Is it possible that what you got was better than what you expected, but you are so near-sighted that you missed all the fun?
(For reference, grown-up Kennedy has a whole different perspective!)