Yesterday a lady said to me, "I like your outfit." I thanked her, and she continuted, "How did you decide on it?" We were working on a outdoor project in 97 degree heat, and I had chosen a tshirt and skirt that I didn't mind getting sweaty. I was wearing green gym shoes, plus white ankle socks chosen primarily for comfort, so I suspected that my feet looked a little goony. I didn't care much, because of the 97 degrees and all.
(You can see the shoes here. They look much goonier paired with a skirt and white ankle socks.)
The lady in question is no snooty fashionista, but I still wondered if she was teasing me. I answered something about skirts being more comfortable than shorts, and that was the end of it.
This morning I pulled up to drop off my kids at school. "Woah, nice car!" said the patrol guard as she opened the sliding door.
"Thank you," I replied with a smile.
I've mentioned before how the patrol guards often have trouble knowing what to do with us. They stand back, waiting for me to activate the automatic sliding door, and then I lower the window and say, "Yeah, you just have to open it. You have to yank it kind of hard." Then when it's time to close the door, they give it a pull, and it sticks. "Yeah, it's kind of tough," I offer weakly. Half the time, they don't close it hard enough, and it doesn't latch properly, so I have to pull forward and then get out and close it myself.
Last week, I kid you not, a boy successfully closed the door, and the patrol guard next to him called out, "Yeah! That's the first time I've seen you do it right!" I'm pretty sure that we actually have a reputation among the fifth graders.
So, back to this morning's "Woah, nice car!" Surely this girl was not sincerely impressed with my 13-year-old Mazda van. But SURELY this cute ten-year-old wearing a green and silver sequined beret was not being rude and sarcastic right to my face. Right?
Ah, well. It's the anniversary of September 11. I'm doing my best to put a lot of good out into the universe this week. Starting with assuming the best intentions. I got it from a book about toddler behavior. It's one of those cases I mentioned in this post, where a parenting book was mostly junk, but contained a nugget of truth.
When you have two options, to believe that the person meant to harm you or to believe that they meant welll, choose to believe that they meant well. Definitely easier said than done (especially if your kid has just stepped on that unreasonably delicate skin on the inside of your foot for the third time in so many minutes), but it's powerful concept if you can do it.