November 19, 2007

The Happiness Question

Today I was thinking about how my own happiness, lately, kind of hinges on whether or not I like Jerry's chosen activities. Not completely, I mean, I'm not getting freaked out about video games or computer use anymore and I'm finding lots of joy in my own activities and interests now that I'm giving Jerry more freedom to make his own choices. But I had the realization today that I feel better when Jerry chooses to do something that pleases me.

For example, we're reading the Edith Grossman translation of Don Quixote right now as our bedtime story. It was Jerry's choice. I had read him the windmill scene a few years ago and he said he wanted to read the whole book together. This makes me very happy. Why? Because it's a classic. Because it's not your typical kid lit. And because it sounds good. When someone asks what we're doing for homeschooling I can ramble off a few highlights (like the cool science projects or the volcano research) and then throw in "Oh, and we're reading Don Quixote." I can't help it. I get a thrill out of it, but I'm thinking it would be better if I didn't.

I mean, is it really safe to let another person's choice of how he spends his time determine whether or not I'm happy on a particular day? I'm thinking no. But I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to remove myself completely (emotionally, I mean) from Jerry's choices. Somehow, I don't think so. And would I want to? Do I need to? Is there a certain emotional distance involved in not judging how another person spends his time? I don't know.

What do you think?

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