Hairspray on a Hamburger

Since last March, we’ve burned a lot of miles driving to girls basketball practices and games.

The gym is about 20 miles away, and we’ve been a minimum of twice per week and sometimes as much as five with tournaments.

So let’s say three on average. 40 miles roundtrip x 3 per week x 40ish weeks = too many miles.

Along the route, there’s a burger joint the girls love.

It’s one of those old school fast food places that never really grew with franchises but always stayed relevant. Tough to do, but they’ve seemed to figure it out. It helps that the fries and shakes are money.


With so much time in the car, we’ve had just about every ride you can imagine.

Rides that have been: quiet, rowdy, dance-y, happy, sing-y, sad, angry, loud, somber.  We’ve probably covered every emotion on the little chart you see in the counselor’s office.

The “point to the face you are feeling right now” chart.

Last week’s ride home from a game fell into one of the emotions I’d rather not point to on that chart.

It’s not that I don’t know how to feel sad or understand when others do, but it seems with a little effort, we can all make the sadness go away.

We can fix it. Make stuff happy. Look at the bright side.

At least people like me that are wired in a way to be overly optimistic (it’s another post down the road, but can any Enneagram fans guess my type?) try to do that.

Oftentimes, the optimism is in an attempt to stuff the hard, scary, sad, dark feelings. Way down deep.

Who in the world wants to feel those?

Well, it turns out, no one really wants to, but it’s not so human to avoid them forever.

Back to the burger joint.

The game was a disaster. Our girls weren’t ready, they played scared, their shots weren’t falling, their mojo was missing in action.

Their coach got on them, and at least speaking for the player who shares my last name, the ride home was awfully quiet.

Until the tears came. And the sadness. And the embarrassment.

I was tempted, even after a lot of learning how to sit in this amazingly uncomfortable emotion the past year, to try and fix it.

Make a joke. Tell her it’s not that big of a deal. Remind her it’s 6th grade girls basketball. Tell her to get ‘em next time.

None of these things are wrong. But they fall pretty short of empathy and compassion I’m learning.

Meeting her heart emotion with a head-based attempt to “move right along” is like speaking two different languages.

So we pulled into the burger joint. We got shakes. And fries. Sadness food, I suppose.

From the back seat, as we pulled away, the tagalong good little sister who witnessed the beat down said, “hey guys – do you know that in photo shoots for hamburgers, they spray hairspray on them to make them shiny and juicy?”

It was a right on the money kind of comment.

It did lighten the mood a bit, but it also led to a realization that in order to really serve my daughter, I didn’t need to be tempted to spray hairspray all over her feelings. In an attempt to make things “better”.

Better is actually sitting with her in the sadness and allowing it to look and feel the way it was, not fabricated.

Turns out, shiny, fabricated feelings are about as human as hairsprayed hamburgers…


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