Moments of Delight

My daughter Sarah is just back from Oaxaca, Mexico, and I’m just tickled that she went there for GoNOMAD and had a great time. It’s not exactly a free vacation, because it’s work, but it’s the kind of work you want.

Just talking about Sarah, I noticed this urge to shut up. It goes back to her earliest childhood. I told some other parents that Sarah liked to play happily in her crib until seven or eight or even nine o’clock in the morning. They gave me nasty looks and never liked me after that.

Then Tyra Banks picked her for her model show, and if you want people to not like you, try bragging about that for sixty seconds. Frankly, my reaction was, “God made them all. They’re all beautiful.”

There are lots of ancient taboos against bragging about your kids, and there’s a lot of sound reasoning behind them.

I just want to make an exception for moments of delight. I think when people experience moments of delight, they should tell their fellow humans all about it so everyone can be on the lookout for them. They’re easy to miss if you’re not on the lookout.

And studies show people who have been delighted are less likely to commit crimes and more likely to make important contributions to society.

When Sarah was a toddler, she would toddle into my room in the morning and say, “Daddy, the darkness is over.” That was a moment of delight, every time — little apostle of the sun.

Sarah’s first day in first grade, a big girl pushed her down and called her ‘buttface.’ We talked about it.

“Do you think she made that up herself?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I think someone did that to her.” Sarah figured out that the big girl didn’t have any friends, so she made friends with her. When I spoke to her teacher about it, she said it made her job a lot easier.

When she was in fourth grade she tutored second graders in reading and the parents of the second-graders said she helped their kids as much as the remedial reading teacher.

When she was thirteen, she found that Grace Metalious, in her bestseller Peyton Place, actually plagiarized several paragraphs from an earlier book, There’s One in Every Town by James Aswell.

I was thinking about Sarah’s year in first grade because my feelings were hurt this week by some close friends — no sense in going into particulars. But I remember when some boys were teasing her on the bus, and we talked about it, and she went in the next day.

And they teased her and she told them that they hurt her feelings, and then she said, “I feel sorry for you because you don’t have any feelings.”

I wasn’t there, but I gather that shut them up. Just hearing about it definitely counts as a moment of delight in my book. And now, many years later, I see that I am glad I have feelings that can be hurt, and I feel sorry for those who don’t have any.