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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Because They Need More Love

Earlier this week, I was driving with our toddler when someone flipped me off. The other driver ran a red light, I beeped at them as they came inches from hitting our car. We watched as they angrily motioned at us, beeped back and gave us the finger.

Even at four years-old, our daughter understood the emotion in that moment.  She asked what happened and I told her that the driver was clearly in a hurry and drove through the stoplight when it wasn’t his turn and that he could have hurt himself or us. 

She said “He was mad, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” I said. “Quite angry.” 

“You know, he was just mad that he almost got into an accident and just wanted to vent his frustration,” I told her,

Waverly was quiet. Then she said “Maybe we was having a bad morning  and just needs more love.”

Maybe he just needed more love.

She was listening.

As she grew and started figuring out her emotions (and others),  we made sure that she understood that she wasn’t responsible for other people’s moods. We told her that sometimes people will be in bad moods but that it wasn’t a reflection on her. I remember a very early conversation with her when she told me that if someone was mean to her that she would be mean back. “I don’t like mean people,” she said.

I realized that in that moment, we could teach her how to handle mean people in a way that would hopefully insulate her feelings against someone else’s bad mojo. I said, “You know, it would feel good in the moment to be mean back but that only hurts you. Maybe they are acting our because they weren’t treated well themselves.”

“Maybe they just need more love,” she said. I loved that. Ever since we had that discussion, that is how we handle other people’s aggressions. Someone wants to be mean? Be mean but that won’t affect us. We’re just going to send back good vibes and step away from the situation. Waverly is so good at this, at keeping her confident, happy bubble around her, regardless of what someone else’s temperament is.  I have been practicing this as well. It works. My first reaction wasn’t to flip the other driver off. Instead, I thought “OK, they’re clearly having a bad day. I hope they drive safely.” It felt good not to throw that negative energy back. It didn’t seep into my mood. It happened and we moved on, safely. This is considerably different than how I previously processed other people’s negative energy. I would take an aggression to heart and run it over in my head. It was fruitless and pointless and left me feeling zapped.

Now though, I know that Waverly is adding to her emotional toolbox and that hopefully flipping someone off won’t ever be a consideration. Rather, an honest “I’m sorry” will be her first reaction and hopefully driving lessons will prevent her from running reds.

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