Midsummer 2008

Dear Friends

Earlier this week, I was preparing to make a right turn on a red light when I realized the front of my car was protruding into the crosswalk, essentially blocking it off to any pedestrians trying to cross the street. Sure enough, when I looked to my left, I saw that someone was halfway across the intersection. I backed up to get out of his way so he wouldn't have to detour around my car. As it turned out, the pedestrian was a teenage boy, shuffling along with his backpack, pants riding low, eyes on the pavement, looking pretty disengaged from everything around him, kind of in his own world... and not a very happy one, at that. Many would surmise that this wasn't a kid you'd want to meet in a dark alley.

I sat waiting for him to cross, and when he was right in front of my car, he turned to face me and, with eyes that were a tad brighter than the moment before, mouthed, "Thank you." I shot back a big smile and nodded my head. Seconds later, though, after I'd made my turn and we were both on our ways, I wondered why in the world I hadn't mouthed back, "You’re welcome," and this thought haunted me the whole way home... and into the next day. It seems to me that a "You're welcome" would have conveyed a whole lot more acknowledgment than a smile and a nod. But that's just me. And it's me in my Monday morning quarterback mode. I mean, here was this kid who looked as if nothing had gone right for him for years (and granted, looks can be deceiving, but I think many would have thought the same thing) and he had the graciousness to thank me for obeying the law and not blocking a crosswalk! I couldn't get him out of my mind and continued to stew about it.

When it comes to parenting, I know I'm not alone in looking back and regretting some of the things I have or haven't done. I absolutely know that given another chance, I would do some things differently. Over the years, I've spent more time than I'd like dealing with this reality, but the more mature I become, the more I am able to come to terms with the fact that I did the best I could at the time, and there is absolutely no value in beating myself up later for my perceived failings.

So, back to the young man in the crosswalk. Yes, I would be happier with myself if I'd responded with "You're welcome," but heck, a smile and nod aren't exactly chopped liver! And I doubt that that kid spent any time stewing about my response, and was happy to have gotten a smile out of a random adult, or possibly any adult, that day. I am now at peace with this whole incident, knowing that there is nothing like a smile to help heal, convey kindness, and light up whatever is dreary. I'm not exactly sure if this experience for me was more about the true value of an appreciative smile or how second-guessing oneself as a parent so often takes the joy out of what one does do right, but either is good food for thought, and I offer both to you in hopes that your life is somehow enriched.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

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