Tessa and I had been on edge with each other all day. Finally in the early evening I invited her to cuddle with me on the couch.
“Neither of us slept well last night. I think we’re just tired,” I offered an explanation why we were both cranky.
“But mom, YOU don’t have a hurt hand, like I do,” Tessa raised her splinted wrist.
“That’s true, Sweetheart. But I’m carrying around a hurt, too. Just not the kind you can bandage up.”
“Really…? What!?” She bolted straight up, eager for some drama from her mama.
“It’s a silly thing, really.” I told Tessa about a conflict I’d been having with someone. Even though this woman was on the periphery of my life, I was giving the conflict with her way more prominence than it merited. I couldn’t shake the malaise. It had probably contributed to my cranky.
Tessa, ever spirited, sprang to my defense. “Mama, you CALL that lady and tell her she’s a B-WORD and she should just SHUT HER MOUTH!”
I was shocked by Tessa’s force. It was as if my inner child, wounded from events of the last few days, were speaking through my child-child.
“I could do that, and I kind of felt like doing that,” I explained, “but if weapon-words did come out like that, in addition to hurting her they would eventually hurt me.”
“Besides,” I said, repeating to her what my parents had often said to me, ” you should never allow anything or anyone to lower the standards you set for yourself. If you think it’s right to behave a certain way, then you don’t let anything that another person does change what you know is right.”
“And another besides, Tessa,” I continued, “this lady has had a lot to deal with, a hard life.”
“What??” Tessa asked, and I told her some of the woman’s story, which caused her to softened a little.
“You know, don’t you,” I said, “that everyone is walking around with a story and that’s why we should always be mindful of being kind.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” I explained, “I didn’t know what kind of week this lady was having. You didn’t know what kind of day I was having. And when Sophie was mean to you this afternoon, she didn’t know that your hand was throbbing. If any of us had known, we might have been kinder. So why don’t we all just be kinder?”
She schnuzzled into me and we sat in silence, no longer cranky.
That night we slept well.