Studies in the psychology of happiness list the factors that contribute to wellbeing. Not surprisingly, good health is most important, followed closely by a satisfying social network. Having money for necessities and simple comforts is important, though the curve flattens out once we have “enough.”
Statistically, having children is a wash; those with kids and those without have the same chances of feeling satisfied in life. Two parents in China experienced the downside of little ones, when their four year old son, unable to read a “Do Not Touch,” sign, destroyed a $15,000 lego critter that had taken three days and 10,000 legos to create. Oops!!!
The creator, who identifies himself as Zhao, said he feels “frustrated and depressed,” though he understands the act was not intentional. I am reminded of Tibetan sand mandalas, especially as China is warming up to Buddhist practice again. The sand mandalas are ritually destroyed after use to demonstrate the impermanence of all created things.
Still, I certainly sympathize with Zhao. I managed to screw up or set back painstaking projects at work from time to time, even without a four year old to help. The end result was that I became very careful…
Here’s hoping Zhao gets back in his groove!
I live in China and the concept of ‘look but don’t touch’ hasn’t exactly caught on yet. Every few months there’s a story about a sculpture or painting that somebody touched and ruined.
I suspect that “Look don’t touch” is just foreign to all young children who are busy exploring their world. That’s why a hands-on place like the Exploratorium in San Francisco is so great. When I was almost four, my grandmother gave me a monkey hand puppet that I loved and carried everywhere. Once when I got a haircut, I grabbed some scissors and trimmed him a bit. I was devastated when it didn’t grow back.
The related story I love the best concerns a woman wrote to Maurice Sendak about how much her young son loved “Where the Wild Things Are.” Maurice sent the boy a drawing, and the boy loved that so much he ate it! The woman wrote back to tell Sendak what happened and he replied that eating his drawing was the finest compliment any reader had ever given him. He sent another drawing, though with the suggestion that maybe the mom should care for it until the boy got older…
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Indeed that’s the finest compliment. I’d be so flattered to have a reader eat any of my writing.