Posted by: Kate | May 9, 2009


It’s Saturday morning, about 8:30.  Both kids are up and dressed, and are (with an abundance of patience and good cheer… no, really.  OK, at least, Jacob’s patient, and Emily is spastic – that counts, right?) waiting for me to get dressed and climb in the car.  We’re going to go out shopping to check for a batting helmet for Emily – maybe, with luck, for them both to share, because seriously, enough already with the softball/t-ball expenses – and perhaps a pair of special maroon baseball socks to match Jacob’s t-shirt and hat.

Nothing exciting or out of the ordinary there, except for Willem’s absence.  He was up and out of the house before I awoke this morning, with cryptic comments about a surprise pending, and how he’ll be back before lunch.  We’re planning a trip to the beach in the afternoon, and something he said made me think that his surprise is related to that in some way.  We shall see.

The whole concept of surprise is a funny thing to me.  There are surprises that I love: unexpected gifts, whether that means that I couldn’t guess what they were going to be or I didn’t even know they were coming.  Days that go by without a single argument with Emily.  Finishing a knitting project (somehow it’s always a shock to come to the end).  Hearing good news (this one has been sadly rare, lately).

But there are other surprises that I just despise, that other people apparently adore.  One of these is the unexpected event, planned by someone else and sprung upon you last-minute: a surprise party or a sudden weekend getaway.  I totally understand how fun it is to be the planner on these things, so I try to be a good sport if it happens, but the reality is, one of my favorite parts of any vacation or fun event is the chance to look forward to it, to plan it, to think about what it will be like.  To dress appropriately.  To feel ready, whatever that might entail.  When something is sprung on me deliberately (as opposed to, “Hey, I just this second won the lottery, let’s go to Bermuda!” “OK!”), I can’t help but feel a tiny flare of resentment at the lost chance to get excited about something.

I’ve been assured that this surprise is giftlike in nature, simply requiring some effort on Willem’s part to gather, and so I can plan a day at the beach as I normally would.  So, wonderful, I’m looking forward to it. I appreciate that, after 8 1/2 years of marriage, he has accepted that those other sorts of “Sur-PRISE!” sorts of things are just not up my alley.

And if he comes home with tickets for a cruise, I could probably find it in my heart to tag along.

So, is it just me, that hates big surprises?  I don’t think that, for me, it’s a control thing; I can accept that most of life is out of my hands and the best I can do is roll with it.  I just really enjoy the research-and-anticipation stage of things, and feel sad when I miss that.



  1. You have to buy batting helmets for them? When I was Emily’s age, the only thing we had to provide was a glove, because everyone’s hands were so different… There were helmets, bats, and catcher’s uniforms ready and waiting for us.

    In regards to your ACTUAL question, I’ve never had a big surprise sprung on me. … So I have no answer about hating surprises. No help from me, sorry!

  2. We have two separate batting helmets because of different teams/different games/ too often the same time… No sharing helmets with team mates to avoid lice (apparently a big problem the year before Evan started!)

    I also hate surprises – too much of a control freak! My mother had a surprise birthday party for my 10th birthday and I cried the ENTIRE time because I hadn’t had the fun of making the invitations, planning the food, etc…

  3. I love surprises but well thought out ones. My daughter is particularly good at that.

  4. Derek has his own helmet for T-bal to avoid ‘head critters’ too, I just couldn’t handle that. I’ve never had a big surprise sprung on me so I wouldn’t know how I would feel/react though a get-a-way would be great today. 😉
    So what was the surprise?
    Happy Mothers Day Kate

  5. My dislike of surprises mostly comes from a financial point of view. Shane is woefully unaware of the specifics of our finances because I take care of all that stuff. So when he plans a surprise for me, my first thought after receiving the surprise is “how did he pay for this? more stuff charged on the card? ugh.” Kinda ruins the surprise.

  6. I’m with you. I like having something to look forward to, and feel cheated if I’m not able to relish that feeling for at least a few days beforehand.

  7. […] not in the least suspicious.  Instead, they chose to let me know, because they all know that I am not a huge fan of surprise events.  Gifts, sure, I can wait till I unwrap them, but walking into a room full of […]

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