by drupid


The word “surprise” can have positive or negative connotations. There are surprises no one appreciates:

  • A routine car inspection that finds you need four new tires and two new engine belts
  • A blocked traffic lane when you were already running late
  • A “breaking news” item that interrupts your favorite television program to spend twenty minutes analyzing something you couldn’t care less about
  • Those ominous words, “We need to talk,” from your supervisor, your child’s teacher, or a doctor


There are surprises that some love and others loathe (never throw a surprise birthday party for someone who likes everything scheduled well in advance). And there are the universally beloved surprises, such as learning that what your supervisor wanted to talk about was offering you a pay raise.


Even positive surprises, though, can wear out their welcome when they keep coming faster than you can process them. Most parents know all too well what’s it’s like to have life hitting you with one unexpected happening after another. The crash from the living room. The last-minute demand for the bathroom. The baby who first manages to stand up alone when your back is turned and an open candy box is within reach. And those evenings when you come home exhausted and find dinner already on the table—which should be a pleasant surprise, except that the volunteer “cook” is five years old, has mixed peanut butter with ketchup to make the sandwich spread, and gave no evident thought to who would clean up the milk that got spilled over the table and across the floor. There you stand, struggling not to melt down and wondering what on earth you can say to convey the message that of course you welcome spontaneous help, but not that kind.


For better or worse, surprises are an unavoidable part of life, and most of us endure avalanches of them at times. It’s tempting to vent your frustration by screaming at your children, bursting into tears, or refusing to get out of bed—but you know that won’t solve the “surprise” problem, and will probably create a few new problems. Fortunately, there are better options.


  • Burn off your frustration energy with a brisk walk.
  • Take seven long, deep, slow breaths.
  • Inhale some relaxing essential oils.
  • Do some yoga or meditation exercises.
  • Soak in a hot bath.
  • Make a list of your blessings. (New work assignment dropped on you out of nowhere? Be thankful you have a job to surprise you with assignments.)
  • Break the stress with humor: play some comedy video clips, or ask your kids to tell you their favorite jokes. Or just laugh a few minutes at nothing at all (you might announce a family game of “who can laugh the longest”). Then, remember that someday you’ll look back on these days and laugh—and if you keep your sense of humor, you’ll be surprised how quickly that someday arrives!




Shady Oak Primary is no enemy of surprise, nor any purveyor of the “do everything by the book” approach to academics. We understand that true learning comes from active, play-based curricula that leaves children plenty of room to be their unpredictable and ingenious natural selves. Contact us to learn more about our approach and find out how to enroll your child.

Blessings to parents and children of all ages!


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