I sometimes stop and help kids with their emotional vocabulary. "How are you feeling?"
"Really? Not sad?"
"How about 'disappointed?' That's kind of like when you're feeling sad because you don't get what you want, and then somebody says something about it and you get mad on top of it?"
Most of the time, they climb back down the ladder to "mad," but it's always a bit of a win for me when I get them to think beyond the primary colors of their feelings.
I was disappointed the other day. It started when I won a radio contest. By identifying the voice I heard as Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King, I was awarded a copy of the new CD from Kings Of Leon. Even now, if you put a gun to my head I would first ask you not to, and then still have a next to impossible time naming a single song by Kings Of Leon. Which is just fine, since the gift of the CD should remedy that situation pretty abruptly. This is not the disappointment part. This was the part where I was happy. No, let me shade that a little more: I felt smug.
Then the friendly folks on the radio informed me that I would in addition to receiving this gift of music, I would be entered into a drawing for a trip for two to see these same Kings Of Leon in New Orleans. Suddenly, on top of smug, I was excited. This feeling was ratcheted up a notch when my wife told me the next day that the radio station had called while I was at work, and they hoped that I would be listening Monday morning for my chance to win that trip to the Big Easy. I started thinking about how I might want to start studying up on my Kings Of Leon catalog. I wouldn't want to fly allt he way down to Louisiana and appear less than familiar with the work of the band I had been sent to see. I started to feel nervous.
When Monday morning came, I was grateful that I had the day off, since it meant I could lay in bed and listen to the radio, full of anticipation for the moment when the big winner was announced. After ninety minutes of buildup, they came back from a commercial and made a big production of selecting one name from the dozens that had been lucky enough to be on the list of CD recipients. There could be only one grand prize winner, however, and that person wasn't me.
I lay there, awake before I really needed to be on a three day weekend, and took inventory of my situation. I was still getting a CD. I was awake. I wasn't getting the trip. Some guy named "Pete" was. I felt sad. I felt mad at Pete and then myself for letting my hopes drive me to the brink of caring about winning. I turned off the radio. I didn't want to hear Pete when he called the radio people back. Disappointed.