My 5 and 7 year old daughters play a game occasionally where they smile or say hi to someone they don’t know (it’s usually an adult) I must add here that they do this from the safety of the car, when the window is down on a hot day and we are stuck in traffic or stopped at traffic lights. They wait to see if the person responds with a ‘hi’ or a smile back, if so, that person is labelled ‘Sweet’ and if they don’t respond if they walk on, that person is ‘Sour’. I think it’s a cute, funny game and I’m impressed that they came up with the names themselves. It’s so easy for kids to see things in black and white. That is all they know. If someone is nice and smiles and says hi – they are a sweet person – its that simple. But we don’t know what is going on in their heads, what kind of day they’ve had or what troubles they may be carrying around. Kids don’t care and don’t want to know, they live in the now, up to a certain point, until unfortunately some of them learn how to worry or get anxious themselves.
It struck me that life is sometimes that simple, that we all have stuff going on, some much more than others, in order to be more mindful and be in the moment, you can choose to be that person who smiles back at a child, who says hi, or you can chose to let your worries and woes take a grip and turn you sour!
I’m lucky enough to live in lovely little Seaside town, called Skerries, where lots of people say hi or smile as you pass them, while you’re out walking, it is such a lovely friendly place to live. I don’t know all the people I say hi to, because I’m not from Skerries, but I say hi anyway. And I’m getting to know more people all the time. Its like living in a rural town long ago where people are just people, acknowledging each other as they pass by. My kids sometimes ask me if I know that person (that I just spoke to or said hi to) and I say ‘no, I’m just being friendly’. Its so nice, and makes me feel part of the place. I find it strange when I go elsewhere, when I continue to do this, I forget where I am, and people just stare at me! They must think I’m crazy or that I think I know them. Anyway, my point is this…. We are all here on this planet together, I chose to see the best in people. I’m not ignorant of the fact that not everyone is lovely and friendly but what harm can ‘hi’ do? I still teach my children to be very careful and not talk to strangers, so I’m aware not everyone will agree on what I’m saying, there’s always an other side to every story. I coach a lot of children and teenagers who have difficulty making friends, perhaps they are joining a new club or hobby, or starting Secondary School, I can’t help but wonder if society trains us ‘not to talk to strangers’ and this, in addition to other things, affects our social skills. Making new friends, can be as easy as smiling and saying hi, no matter what age you are. Surely we can teach our children both; to be friendly, how to make friends and expect the best of people, but also give them coping skills and rules to follow if the person is not.
So my question is this – Are you sweet or sour?