March 28, 2014

What Makes You Happy

It started with an innocent question to Spud one evening during our nightly bedtime ritual when I decided to vary my usual question of “What do you want to chat about today” to something else when I put her to bed. I decided to ask my 3.5 year old this question instead: “Spud, tell me something. What makes you happy?”

After going uhmmm and ahmmm for a bit, she smiled and rattled off things which don’t always quite make sense but somehow, her own answers made her laugh heartily. For some answers that do actually make sense, things that make her happy by her own definition so far include:

  • Going to school
  • Having fun
  • Playing
  • Watching Tinkerbell

When she was done rattling off her list as she sprawled away in bed, she turned to me and went, “Mama, your turn. What makes you happy?”


I really had not expected the question to be asked back to me the first time it happened, and so, I found myself scrambling for answers as I try to give Spud some coherent reply from my little muddle head. My replies, not surprisingly came with a little agenda which includes answers that are directly related to her in the hope that she “gets it”:

  • When you listen to me
  • When you don’t throw temper tantrums often
  • When you are nice to me
  • When you give me kisses and hugs
  • When you don’t cry so much
  • When you eat your meals by yourself
  • When you chew your food

To which, her reply was,”Oh.”

Oh. She says. Hmmmm.

As days go by, the question of “What makes you happy” has turned into a game which I have enjoyed indulging her with. Every once in a while, she would give some funny answers which make both of us laugh.

These days, I have also tried to loosen up and steer away from my very pointedly sarcastic answers, which I KNOW sounds very imposing and almost unfair to a 3 and half year old child. I have since replaced MOST with the following:

  • When you smile
  • When you laugh
  • When you talk to me about your day
  • When I get kisses and hugs
  • When I give kisses and hugs
  • When I get to spend time with you, your brother and your Papa
  • When I see her and her brother happy
  • When I am in the kitchen cooking
  • Being able to sleep
  • Being healthy and able
  • Helping people
  • Seeing people around me happy
  • And most importantly, having just about enough of everything

The bit of “When you listen” still makes it to my list just to emphasize to Spud the importance her of listening to us, but that is beside the point.

I didn’t realise it at that time when I was innocently asking Spud the question, but I am realizing it even more now how such simple question is able to provide me a perspective of what life should really be at the end of the day.

As it turned out, “When I’m at work” or “Having a lot of money” did not make it to my list. I have also make it a point to stay away from people who are always unhappy and brings about negative vibes to my aura.

At the end of the day, it really is about what really matters.

What about you? What makes you happy?

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