Intersecting Lives on the T

Living in a city puts you in contact with all sorts of different people as they go about their daily lives.  In the course of this week, I’ve had people fall asleep on my shoulder, seen a couple fight and then kiss and make up, moved out of the way of strollers and bikes, and sat elbow to elbow with perfect strangers as I drank my coffee and shuttled toward work.

And then today I saw this adorable scene, part of a longer conversation about life.

The place: the T in the early evening.

The people: a young boy with a Thomas the Tank Engine backpack and a mom in pink scrubs.

Son: Moooom.  I got detention today.
Mom: Yeah?  Tell me about it.  What did you do?
Son: I wasn’t being quiet, and the teacher said “I want detention for three minutes.”
Mom: Are you sure she said she wanted detention?
Son: Yeah.  She said she wanted detention for everyone.
Mom: Do you think maybe she said she wanted attention, like she wanted you to listen to her?
Son: Yeah.  She said “I want your attention” so I did what she said.
Mom: Good, I bet your teacher appreciated that.

::end scene:::

A few minutes later, they had a similarly cute misunderstanding about a nurse that “gave [him] his blood pressure”, and if he would have to miss school for his next doctor’s appointment.

I just love it when I see parents taking kids seriously while also talking to them at their level.  I’ve been reading a lot about problem solving, and this conversation made me think about how this negatively could have gone (“You got detention?  How could you?  Didn’t I raise you to be better than that?”) if the mom just hadn’t taken the time to calmly talk through the circumstances.  I saw a similar conversation in DC where a mom was telling her daughter that she couldn’t have chicken nuggets for dinner even if her friend was, because “what Ashley wants and what Becky needs are not the same thing.”

So, I’m storing today’s conversation away as a reminder of a few things:

  • It’s always worth figuring out what people really mean before getting mad.
  • There’s usually a way to talk to someone where they’re at (tired, distracted, ten years old) that will help you get more accomplished.
  • If you hear something adorable on the T, just pretend to read your book and listen up, because you might learn something.
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