"Mama, is it bad that I am happy?"
The question came out of the blue one evening.
What prompted it, I do not know, but the question was asked and needed an answer.
"No, it is a wonderful thing. Why do you ask?"
He gave me a forlorn frown. "I dunno. I just wonder if it is bad to be so happy all the time."
I am one who wonders why I am so serious all the time and feel like I don't enjoy many moments like I should because I am so wrapped up in worry and ‘what can go wrong' - so for my child to question if it is wrong to be happy made me concerned.
"What would make you think it was a bad thing?" I asked.
He sighed. Like his mother, he is a sigher.
When he doesn't know how to respond, what to do, or is exasperated - usually by me - he sighs.
"A kid told me it was wrong...and called me a really ugly name about it. He said for me to be so happy all the time, was stupid and there must be something bad wrong with me."
"When did this happen?" I asked.
"Last year. I didn't tell you, because I didn't want that vein to pop out on your neck and your eyebrow to do that Spock thing when you get mad."
Hearing this made me naturally upset. My normal instinct whenever I hear my child is hurt is to go into total Mama Cat mode, which often means unleashing locusts and other unnatural disasters. When it is a child doing the hurting, I have come to realize, maybe their own home life is not that great. Maybe that child is hurting for some reason, and the only reason they do ugly things, is because that's the only time they get attention.
Sadly, hurting people hurt others.
We may not know why they are hurting or that they even are - we just can tell by the way they treat others. They aren't able to let someone else have their own little corner of happiness.
But why do they want to hurt the ones who are just letting their little lights shine?
It's children who are unhappy, unloved, and don't get the attention they need and deserve at home that want to hurt the children that are happy, full of joy, and bounce like Tigger because their ‘spark' is so full.
It's the children who, even when they are in trouble, know they are at least getting attention.
It's the children who would be mean to my child, because he is tenderhearted and compassionate and would feel bad for those kids because he saw they were sad or, their sparks were not happy.
It's not just children, either.
There are plenty of adults who have a hard time seeing others be happy.
For some reason, there are scores and scores of people who think if someone is happy, enjoying life, or has something, that it is taking something away from them.
If someone experiences success, joy, or anything that makes them happy, some people's immediate reaction is to try to snuff out the joy. To rain on their parade, to burst their proverbial bubble.
Why that is, I don't know.
But it happens. All the time.
And it needs to stop.
People need to realize, a candle does not lose its flame by igniting others; if anything, the light grows bigger, brighter and stronger.
Someone's joy is not creating another's sadness.
Someone's success does not equal another's failure.
We need to learn there is beauty in celebrating other people's happy moments, instead of rejoicing when they fail.
"Baby, I am so sorry someone said that, and I am sorry they called you something ugly," I began. "You are right; I would be angry and would have unleashed locusts. I would. But it also saddens me that another child must be so unhappy that they would try to tell you it's wrong to be so happy. You know that is wrong, right? That it is absolutely perfect you that are as happy as you are. It shows me and Daddy are doing something right."
I am sure we mess up 100 different ways daily, but I feel like the fact Cole is a happy child at least proves he knows, above all, that he is unconditionally loved.
He nodded. "I know. It just hurt my feelings to be called a bad word. I never call people those words."
I knew he didn't. He knows the power of words and that they should be used to build people up, not tear them down.
"I know," I said gently.
"It made my spark dull for a while, Mama," he said. "I didn't want to show others my happy."
His quiet, sincere admission hurt my heart.
My child finds happiness and joy in the simplest of things. Fluffy clouds in the sky, squirrels chasing each other down a tree, finding his favorite gum on sale - these are things that delight my child to no end. Hearing good news about a friend or family member makes him beam from ear to ear.
His spirit is one of total and utter joy that I have honestly never experienced.
"Cole, that would be a great tragedy, my love," I began. "Part of why you are here, is to be happy and to show others how to be happy no matter what."
"So what should I do, Mama?" he asked.
What should he do? When did joy and happiness become a crime?
"Like the song says, baby. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."