Saturday, May 28, 2011


I like surprises. 

Some people don't, I hear.  Some people really like knowing what is going to happen next and like routine and like things to remain standard.

I like those things, too, sometimes.

But I like being surprised- with a gift, a note, a visitor, whatever.

I also like to surprise others.  I love the thrill of pulling off a happy surprise and seeing that big reaction of joy and eagerness unexpected!

Jeff likes to surprise others, too.  Not me, so much.  He likes to surprise the kids. 

It's like those videos of parents telling their kids that they are going to Disney as they are arriving at the airport... there's something so exciting and joyful about it!

Sometimes, Jeff and I get excited about our plans for a fun day and we want the day to be filled with little happy surprises for the kids so we won't tell them what we're doing.

Sometimes, that works out well.  We get those big joyful grins and the glee filled reaction and we feel good about bringing our kids some happiness.

Sometimes, the kids figure out that something is up and press until we cave and tell them or we get cranky about them pushing and then it sometimes isn't so joyful.

We obviously have a little work to do on our "behaving like grown ups" thing.

But it's no fun when someone ruins a surprise!  Haven't you had that happen?  You work and think and research and plan and come up with what you think will be a great surprise... and the person you are trying to please guesses it ahead of time.  Or buys themselves the gift you had been working on.  Or suddenly changes their opinion of something.

It's no fun when you accidentally ruin a surprise, either.  To see the disappointment on your friend or spouse's face when you accidentally happen into a situation that gives away a planned surprise.

I remember being totally intrigued with the Christmas gifts under the tree each year.  My mom would go to great lengths to hide presents out of sight before wrapping them.  One year, I learned my lesson by my own choices.  I was home alone.  I got a paring knife from the kitchen.  I slit open the packages, saw what was inside, retaped them.  And then I knew.  I still had to wait and I had to pretend to be surprised and excited on Christmas.  And it wasn't fun. 

Jeff likes to surprise me.  Little gifts are the main thing.  And sometimes just the things he chooses- when he knows it's something I'm going to enjoy- are nice surprises, too.

It's nearly impossible to surprise him.  He either figures it out or what I think is something he's going to like ends up being something he has no interest in.

Today, we get to surprise the kids.  An opportunity presented itself to be able to spend time with my family and the kids have no idea.  In fact, our getaway that we've planned will be a surprise for them, too! We aren't telling them where we're going or when.  They'll go to school/camp for the day and get picked up early and off we'll go on our adventure!

In a lot of ways, surprises are about trust.  When you know something is about to happen, you have to trust the person trying to please you.  I think that's what it boils down to when we don't like the kids pressing us to find out the surprise when they catch wind of it.  While they're just excited and want to be informed... we want to be trusted that it will be awesome and fun. 

Do any of us have that kind of deep trust to truly enjoy a surprise?



Garret said...

Oh. IS that all? I was thinking you were sending me a gift or flying me in for the 2am Podcast guest star appearance. Now I know what you mean by disappointment.

Katherine said...

I'm a big fan of surprises. Mostly because it means that the person spent time thinking about you, planning the surprise. That's what I really like.

Nancy said...

I love surprises, but it has been a long time since I have been surprised :( I like planning them as well!

Rebecca said...

The only thing I don't like about surprises is that I spell the word wrong half the time. I want to spell it suprise instead of suRprise. But yeah, surprises are amazingly wonderful

Alison said...

Now that reminds me of Miss Chef's Very Bad Day she had one time, when she preceded every bad part of the story with "Surprise! We're out of fish!" or some such. I like your kind of surprises better.

I'm actually trying to hold back a surprise for her right now in regards to our Paris trip. I've picked the day for our visit to Versailles for when fountains are actually running. I don't know if I can manage it, but how cool would it be to be standing in front of a giant gilded fountain and have it suddenly start up?

Of course, maybe it'll startle her...Surprise!! lol

Bill Lisleman said...

I never thought of trust and surprises being linked. I do see your logic. I'm not big on surprises and the thing is if you try to do them often then people start to second guess some expected surprise. I certainly believe trust has many other connections than surprises. I liked your post because it certainly got me thinking.

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

I think I have been under-surprising at my house lately. I have such a hard time keeping a secret--no will power whatsoever. I can't even buy Christmas presents too early--my urge to give them to the kids early is too strong.

Amy said...

I like surprises -- giving them, receiving them. But I don't like waiting. Where the heck are you going?!

Mrs4444 said...

I like to think that I'd be thrilled if Mr.4444 planned a total surprise outing, but maybe I'd be cranky about it? No--I would love it. Maybe some day... I liked this post--You don't always think about this stuff, and your theory makes a lot of sense. I love how introspective you are :)

Karen M. Peterson said...

I LOVE surprises!

I never really thought about it, but you're right. There is a level of trust that needs to exist in order for it to be successful.