“Hi, little boy.”
Graham cut his eyes at me as a four-year-old stranger stood waving at him.
When the boy left, Graham (who was both unamused and also five years old) told me, “he thinks I’m little. I’m not.”
My son was offended because in his mind “little boy” was a put-down.
But this smiling little four-year-old stranger saw things differently. In a world of adults, he saw someone else, just like him, and he was happy about it.
The funny thing is, we don’t outgrow this. Even into adulthood, we continue to believe that everyone we meet sees the world as we do. As if they’re making all the same assumptions. But this is almost never the case.
And the result usually looks something like conflict: insults, fights, and so on.
But what if our first assumption wasn’t that they’re seeing what we’re seeing. What if our first assumption–the one we give the benefit of the doubt to–was that they aren’t trying to hurt us?
How many of our daily headaches would evaporate with that one change? (And how many new friends would we make?)
My guess is, at least a few. And that, I think, is worth it.