It was a Friday afternoon and I was picking up my three children from school. Within five minutes of climbing on board, the oldest had her younger brother in tears. I felt my ire rising.
By the time we got home, she was lacing into me. My first instinct was to let her know who was boss, but I was the adult, so I walked out of the room, and took a deep breath, willing myself to gain some perspective.
Calmly, I rejoined my daughter, gently placing my hand on her shoulder. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Your brother and I weren’t around you long enough to get you this upset. What’s bothering you?”
My eleven year-old daughter’s anger melted into tears. “The kids at school are pressuring me to smoke,” she sobbed. “I told them I don’t want to, but they keep bugging me.”
I sighed with relief. Thank goodness I had not met her aggression with more aggression, shutting down any communication between us. This child needed someone to confide in, and I was so grateful I could be there for her.
That was the day my daughter taught me never to take another person’s moods personally, because when you do, you miss the possibility of greater intimacy.