I trust everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving day full of family, friends, food and hopefully, relaxation. It was a somber holiday for the family and I – still dealing with our loss, but we had a great time with the family. I did struggle a little with today’s post (which coincidentally is why I am posting later than I would have liked) which was originally going to be my take on “Black Friday” – by the way, thanks to all of you out there that completed my survey regarding Black Friday – a lot of great insights.
I was going to talk about how “we” spent just north of $11billion (with a “b”) dollars, the day after we gave thanks, and the messages we are sending to our children when the media and pop culture at large, “convince” us that rather than spending time with the family and reflecting and loving one another, we should be waiting in line to buy stuff we already have – on Thanksgiving night! I was going to talk about how the “Black Friday Night Fights” was a trending topic on Twitter and posted fight videos on Youtube have north of 2 million views. More specifically I was going to talk about the desensitization of our culture to this type of violence, in the name of buying something whose price was artificially inflated and then put on sale to convince us we are getting a “deal”, and how we just simply bystanders to this violence or, better yet, taped it and posted it to Youtube. I was going to talk about the “men” who were taped fighting over some shoes in the mall as everyone stood by and watched – and what this is doing to our society and how we as Dads should combat this behavior…but that would just be way too easy now wouldn’t it?
Instead, I wanted to talk about something that happened to me over the weekend and how it might just apply to the craziness of “Black Friday”. Just like most of us on Thanksgiving day, I found myself traveling on the freeway with my daughter, off to visit the grandparents. After a wonderful visit, it was time for us to head back home to have dinner with more family members. As is customary when I drive on these crazy freeways, I referred to my handy traffic app and to my shock (sarcasm) I discovered that there was an accident about 4 miles ahead that had practically shut the freeway down. The only way to circumvent this traffic inevitability was to stay in the far right lane – and pray that it not be too painful. Flowing steadily in the far right lane for some time now, and feeling quite proud of myself for having such foresight as to avoid the traffic snarl, I noticed a minivan pacing alongside me. At a certain point I sensed the driver of the minivan looking right at me but as I turn my head I noticed that the driver isn’t looking at me but rather, through me! As the driver begins to merge in to my lane, I lay on the horn, as if the harder I pushed it, the louder it would sound but the driver kept merging! Realizing the potential for a bad accident, I hit the brakes (while still continuously honking) making room for the driver to continue their merge and the driver kept going as if nothing happened.
I continued to follow the driver, while still honking, as if that was going to do anything, and then testosterone kicks in and I quickly (but safely) swerve alongside the driver so that we are pacing each other once again. Now, it doesn’t take a psychic to predict the words or actions that would have “normally” taken place at this moment but rather, something else happened instead. As I was contemplating the various options in my arsenal of irrational revenge for such an egregious act, my inner dialogue, also known as my daughter, came through louder than the horn of the car. With a simple precocious question and a hint of annoyance she asks, “Papi, why are you still honking?” I was mentally stopped in my tracks.
Her question was so on point! Why exactly was I still honking? Why was I contemplating the right mixture of offensiveness and revenge? What could I possibly say that was going to make sense to this toddler and explain my behavior? It was at that moment that I realized that as her Father, there was no excuse for the behavior I was displaying. The only appropriate thing I could say was, “Sorry baby.” Later during our drive I went on to explain how the other drive made me upset because they were not driving safely and that I did not want her and I to get into an accident – to which she responded, “Papi, when you are talking I cannot hear my movie!”
But this got me to thinking that there are times when our children will not necessarily understand or comprehend our behavior, but that will not stop them from questioning us and as Dads we better have a really good answer! I imagine what the conversation would have been like with her, if I had carried out my act of revenge on the other driver – and she had witnessed it all. What example would I would setting? What message would she be internalizing about conflict. We experience these scenarios almost daily but it goes beyond how we choose to handle them but rather, how we would want our children to handle these types of situations. Hopefully by taking a moment to think before we act, our children will emulate our behavior and become more thoughtful in their responses – so let’s strive to be more mindful and vigilant Dads!
Until next time.