When my little girl was an infant, people always said to me—little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems. Back then, my little kid difficulties seemed overwhelming at times—lugging around changes of clothes and diapers, draping rain covers and blankets on my infant son as I ran his stroller to school through torrential rain to pick up his sister from kindergarten. The logistics of infancy just seemed crushing at times.
But now with my daughter in her first year of all-day school, indeed, those big kid problems have arrived. Namely, arguments and conflicts with classmates. She’s coming home with complaints and sometimes even a little tearful meltdown or two about someone who yelled at her, who “took” a friend away from her or a boy who won’t stop bothering her. While I try to sit down and talk her through the various situations she drags home from school, I felt a little unprepared at first–how do I get her through these conflicts? How do I arm her with the resolution skills that will get her to work on the problem herself, without always running to the teacher or having her father or I write a note to the teacher? And while I still talk about each situation with her to try to figure out what happened and why certain incidents occurred, along the way I came up somehow with a general, easy-to-digest philosophy for her to take to school: “Only be with people that make you happy. And choose to do things that make you happy.”
It’s something I tell her almost every day in hopes that she doesn’t feel she has to play with a child in her class who bothers her regularly, or join in a game the rest of her posse wants to play at recess. I know it sounds incredibly simplistic because we can’t always just be with people who make us happy. But I do think there’s value in using that philosophy as a measure to determine—who should I play with? Who should I avoid? What kind of people do I want to be around?
And while I’ve been using this saying with her for weeks, it suddenly occurred to me the other day that this little philosophy could be applied to my very own life and some of my grown up conflicts. That I too should surround myself with people who make me happy. And for me, happiness means heading out to gatherings and events with fun and friendship-filled people and avoiding the soul-sucking conversations of the droner-oners or the non-listeners or the constant-one-uppers in my life. Fortunately, there are not many—but there are some and I feel as if I’ve seen the light. Why am I not practising what I preach to my very own kid?
Clearly, I’m not the only one thinking it—in case you missed it, here’s Jimmy Kimmel’s speech on surrounding yourself with only true friends—albeit on Facebook in this case—through his National UnFriend Day campaign. This most definitely makes me happy.