|Get the best of Oprah.com in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters!|
How to Get Along With Other People
We have all been there—on the sidewalk, in the supermarket, at the mall—when a mother starts in on her kid, say, a four year old, clinging to a stroller that holds a toddler sibling, yelling, "shut the hell up....shut the HELL up." The daughter hangs her head and the toddler starts wailing and the mother tells her, too, to SHUT THE HELL UP. And then the light changes or the elevator comes and they're gone.
We wish—god, we so wish—we knew how to respond at such moments, because they come around again and again. And not just what to tell the mother, but to ourselves, too. Because sometimes we overhear people saying what we know (really, what anyone would agree) is the exact wrong thing to say to a child, not always so loud and sometimes with best intentions but still, the kind of thing that makes you think, What is wrong with people—no, really, what is wrong with them? And what's wrong with me, standing here like a fool?
Leigh Newman has found an answer—not the answer—but one that makes it a little easier to share the planet with people, not as she might want them to be, but as they actually are.