Driving home in the twilight tonight, my two youngest daughters in tow, we encountered one of those teachable moments.
I had just managed to avert a potent Clash of the Sisters, and was basking in the success of having steered us successfully away from the threat of punches to an invitation to "come up on my bed when we get home" from the top-bunk dwelling sister. It was glorious. And rare.
We were sitting at a red light, when my youngest asked for pain medication and a drink of water. She is currently in a wrist brace from a slight sprain, and her wrist was hurting. Also, she can't do some things, such as open a water bottle. I glanced up at the light, marking that it was still red, grabbed an ibuprofen from my purse, gave it to her, and then reached for the water bottle, opened it and handed it over. She took the pill, drank the water, and handed back the bottle.
In the time it took for those things to happen, which seemed quite brief to me, the light turned green. The driver of the truck behind me BLASTED his horn at me. I spilled the water. And then I stepped on the gas and began to proceed through the intersection. Mr. Angry Truck Driver Guy swerved hard to my right and passed me at just the right pace to allow him to give me a nice long glare as he drove by.
Daughter commentary: "MOMmy, HE'S giving you the STINK eye!"
Once he passed me, he swerved hard back to the left and in front of my car. Just to make a point I guess.
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Earlier today, a co-worker of mine dissolved into tears from two recent and unexpected deaths in her family.
Earlier today, my son called me with a plea for advice for handling an upsetting issue in his life.
Earlier today, I listened to a news story about an Iraqi student who lives in an ISIS-controlled area, who is now breaking the law by attending his state university; he leaves his house before dark each day to minimize the possibility that he will be arrested for pursuing an education.
And right at that moment, in my little minivan cocoon, I had, in a short five minutes, successfully prevented a nasty, soul-crushing fight between my daughters, and tended to an 8-year old's pain.
I kind of think that Mr. Angry Truck Drive Guy needs to take a chill pill and realize what's really important in life.
But my own reaction was interesting too. I wanted to speed up and RIDE HIS ASS. I wanted to ask him WTF was so important that he had to shatter my nice little moment with my daughters. I really wanted to pull right up to him, roll down my window and say in a drippingly sarcastic voice: "Hey, I'm soooooo sorry I made you wait an extra 10 seconds. I was giving my daughter pain medication for her sprained wrist. I hope we haven't made you late for something truly important. Have a nice evening, asshole!"
But my girls, they saw it differently.
They thought the guy was a whack job. They had a nice little laugh at how stressed out he got. Nothing was going to touch their groove, or derail them from their top-bunk plans. So that teachable moment thing? That was them, teaching me not to sweat the small stuff and to keep right on enjoying moments with the ones I love.
Here's my advice to humanity: whenever possible, whenever it occurs to you, several times a day if necessary, take a giant chill pill and control your stink eye. It's just not that hard to tend to the more important things in life, if you give it at try.
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We drove on, into the twilight, and soon right along the gorgeous San Francisco bay, and I was so happy to be with my non-fighting daughters on one of the first Fall-feeling evenings of the season.
Chill pills are the best.
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