This past weekend, my daughter and I stopped at a new farmer's market close to our house. It is located on a busy street, at a popular intersection.
I pulled up to the lane to make room for cars to go by me, put my signal on and waited my turn. A man in his car lurched right next to me and screamed "put your fucking signal on before you fuckin' stop in the middle of the fuckin' street".
Did this comment make sense? No. Did he wait for my reply? No. It was not a conversation. It was not an exchange of information. My daughter was jolted. She was confused. She was a a little bit scared.
As we waited maybe the 20 additional seconds to pull into the parking lot and as we parked we talked about anger. I have heard a lot about children and anger in toddler stages. Tantrums, you know. However, I have found anger to be a regular topic of conversation in our home lately. My daughter is seven. She sees adults get angry. She sees children get angry. She feels angry also. So, our conversation continued within the context of a stranger.
She asked many questions I could not answer surrounding the situation.
"We can never know how or why people feel the way they do. What I know is my situation. I was going the speed limit (actually, way under due to traffic). I put my turn signal on. I patiently waited my turn. Simple.
The man was angry, seemingly at me, but likely at something else out of his control that had little to do with us, or our vehicle. However, at this moment, we were present; occupying the same space as him. Whatever he was angry about, he threw his anger at us.
I told her it served no one for me to get angry back at him. I didn't yell back. It is my job to stay calm. You need calm to drive. You need calm to think. You need calm to respond (not applicable in the case because he yelled at me and then sped off. Staying calm also shows him an example of woman in control. Above all, it shows my daughter that even in difficult situations in which we are seemingly victims, we can remain true to ourselves. When presented with irrational behavior or those people that throw anger towards us, the bystander, we need our calm in order to think, to take the next safe step forward.
A few days later, my daughter became angry. I was getting off a short phone conversation and she felt her need could not wait. She lost her temper. Anger ensued. She was unable to hear, to respond, but only react and yell, much like this man. I remained calm. She took space and yelled. I made myself a mug of tea and admired this broken rununculus I showcased in a little ramekin on our dining room table. I glanced at my book. I focused on my breath. Then I saw my tea message and giggled to myself.
"What can you appreciate in this moment?" it said.
In this moment, I appreciated that I could sit and be and so could she. She threw her anger at me and then took space. I then folded laundry. She came to my room and cried on my bed, not talking but wanting to share space. I put all the laundry away. She made noises. Then looked at me. When she was ready, we briefly talked. We reviewed the story about the man. We talked about throwing anger. We talked about waiting, about needs, about wants.
My tea message echoing in my head brought me a smile. This moment. I appreciate the gift of mindfulness. Living these enormous lessens with my daughter, one moment at a time. Recognizing the gift of a moment. Being present. Learning every day with her.