Desmond asked Derek to wake him this year, just before the ball drop. And he tried, but Des was too tired.
This morning, upstairs, I could hear Desmond’s unhappy voice. When he came down here, he looked upset. I said, “I heard you say something upstairs. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Looking like he was going to cry, he said, “I missed it!”
“Aw, honey. I know, you were too tired to get up. Maybe next year?”
“Next year is a million days away!”
“I know. You know, it’s not such a big deal. It seems like it right now because you’re young, but it’s really not that exciting. Maybe next year, you can just stay up the whole night, sleep in the next day.”
“But next year is so far away.”
“I know…I’m sorry.”
Sometimes, the only solution is to empathize.
Passage of time for kids is so different. Everything happens at a snail’s pace. “Before you know it” means nothing to them. In fact it really ticks them off.
I remember how exciting New Year’s Eve was, when we were finally old enough to stay up all night, that one day of the entire year.
How disappointing, too. The year we all went to friend of the family Carey Delaney’s New Year’s party in separate cars and my mother had too much to drink. My father took away her keys and she had herself a loud meltdown in the driveway, declaring divorce and everything else.
I was about Desmond’s age, still too young to understand that divorce would’ve maybe been an improvement, in my parents’ case. When you’re 8 or 9, your family staying intact is everything to you. Even just the word “divorce” is a swear word. Devastating.
Or the year before, when my parents came home from Chinese with friends and my mother sobbed because she had way overdressed while everyone else wore jeans and was humiliated the whole night.
I legit felt sorry for her, that night, and when I think about it now, I still do. For all of her limitations, she really was a beautiful woman, and she tried so hard. She lived modestly, and just wanted to look nice for a night out. What was wrong with that?
I guess my point is that, to me, it’s just another night. Historically, not always a good one.
Although I was engaged at the dawn of the millennium.
But for Desmond, it remains a mysterious and momentous occasion, for which he failed to show up.
So I understand.
I told him it’s not a big deal to try to make him feel better, but even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew it was the wrong thing to say. In fact, “It’s not a big deal” is probably often the wrong thing to say.
Because, to the person on the receiving end, whatever it is clearly is a big deal. So trying to tell them it isn’t, isn’t terribly sympathetic.
Sometimes, all you can really say is “I know, I’m sorry.”