Have you ever tried to fold up a stroller and get multiple small children onto a bus, find your Metrocard and put it in properly (without losing sight of the children or dropping the stroller), get those children settled into seats and the stroller stowed away without bumping into anyone, and then keep those children reasonably quiet for 15 or 20 blocks? In the rain? Without help? Everyone on the bus seems to be looking at you in annoyance: annoyed at how long it took you to get onto the bus and anticipatory annoyance for the noise the kids are about to make.
One rainy day, after doing all of that, my attention turned to someone else, sitting in a two-seater with two kids who were soaking wet and crying. She was trying everything to calm the kids and quiet them down. They were inconsolable. Two people got on the bus and sat behind her and immediately started loudly complaining about the kids. She became more desperate to quiet them. They got more hysterical.
What if, instead of complaining and criticizing her, those people had offered to help her (as we and others on the bus did)? What if we reacted with generosity instead of judgment? Read the rest of this entry →