It’s surprising how different people can view the same situation with totally different eyes and opinions.
Last week, my younger one hosted a surprise birthday party for her best friend at home. Some 13 kids came over directly from school (and how blessed we are to live right across from it) but due to a weird ‘key-losing’ phase my daughter was going through, they were locked out. To while away time until I rushed home from work, they went to play in the park downstairs.
Now, this park has a board annoucing that it’s for kids under the age of 10 only, and my daughter and her friends were 12. Nevertheless, since no one else was around, they went about their business, screaming in joy and having a great time.
A cranky 30-something woman walking her dog came by and admonished them. “Can’t you see it’s for small kids only? Get away from here.” They looked at her blankly, their fun all spoilt, and started playing about more quietly. She then complained to the building’s guard and he reluctantly asked them to leave. Even he felt sorry for these bunch of kids, who were being discriminated against because they were two years too old. The playground fell silent once more.
The kids came back up and began fooling around in my floor’s corridor. An old lady, the wife of a retired army officer who lives on the same floor, came out of her flat and peered curiously. Expecting another scolding, the kids fell silent, but she smiled benignly and said, “How nice to hear some noise around here; our floor has been so quiet for years.”
I heard these tales later, of course, but at that very moment, I was busy applying a different perspective to my own circumstances. I had had to rush home the previous day as well since my daughter had lost her key for the first time, and since she’s extremely responsible otherwise, the only explanation we could come up with was that maybe someone took it. So my drive home had been in a total state of panic, worry and disbelief that someone could have stolen it from her bag. I had also been having a busy day at work, and so I had a total brain-overload. By the time I got home, I was a neurotic mess.
On the day of the surprise party, even though this was the second key she’d lost, I counselled myself as I drove back home yet again: “I cannot control what’s happening to me but I can control how I react to it. I will reach home in calm, not panic, and greet those kids with a big smile. They don’t deserve my worried, neurotic behaviour.” And so I stayed calm; greeted those kids with a big smile; opened the door; got a carpenter to come over and change the locks the same evening; had one extra key sent to my parents’ home in case of future emergencies; drew up a plan with my daughter and housekeeper; organised lunch for the kids; and managed to be back at my busy day at work totally unfrazzled. I even completed writing an article the same evening.
My daughter found one of the lost keys the next day, so now we have two lock-and-key sets. Double the trouble? Or twice blessed? I’ll go with the latter.