I was startled today to realize that I’d been comforting my daughter for a few minutes without really taking in, or taking seriously, that the tragedy at hand was that she had to ride with me to swimming, not her beloved Papa. (“Not Daddy, noooo! I always have to go with Daddy! Why do I never ever ever get to ride with Papa?!” [Weep!] [Wail!])

Both our kids have a dramatic streak, and I guess the sibling sport of wanting whatever the other has is not new. Jane Smiley’s wonderful novel “Some Luck” suggests that even kids in the depression on a down-on-its-luck farm could fight it out over not much more than a rag to play with. (I hope some of the vicious power plays have calmed down in our modern era, though I’m sure some persist).

Anyway, until recently these “no please not you, anything but you” conversations felt like a personal rejection. I guess I’m a bit slow, because you don’t have to observe the kids long to see that, when they’re in a mood, “fixing” whatever they say the issue is doesn’t usually do much; they move right on to the next thing that’s tragically horribly wrong. You can give them anything they ask for (and more), and that meltdown is coming down the track.

It’s probably true of all of us, sometimes, that we have feelings, and then go looking for reasons to explain them, rather than only responding to what’s happening.

It’s not that there’s no reason for our feelings, but the source is not always clear, and it’s almost never (only) because of the little things my kids melt down about. I tend to think it’s about the big things: The school year just ended. Second grade and preschool are giving way to Third and Kindergarten. Friends and beloved teachers won’t be seen for a summer, and perhaps ever again. Our cousin Myles is moving to the East Coast. It might just be about how tough it is to grow slightly older. Growing, maturing hurts, I’m told.

So somehow the lightbulb has gone off in my head: Oh, this kid’s desperate for a good cry. And I’m heavily in favor of a good cry. I say go for it.

I am genuinely sorry that you’ve got no say in who you ride with today; being a kid comes with so many situations where you don’t get to pick, and things big and small just happen. It must be terrifying.

But no, you can’t ride with Papa today.

jaden-by-jonathan-01 Shayla-by-Jonathan