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2022 Apr

A Kind Word

Here’s how we can set a good example for our kids.

When you visit another culture, it’s often the small things that are most surprising. Here in Mexico, where Peter and I are at the tail end of a working vacation in San Miguel de Allende, we have been pleasantly surprised at how patient the locals are.

One example is how people behave at intersections. In my experience as a driver in the U.S., the rule has always been every man for himself. Rarely does anyone slow down enough to let you merge onto a busy highway. In traffic situations, it’s even worse with people getting angry, shouting obscenities, and making hand gestures at other drivers when tempers flare. I admit even I have shouted at other drivers during moments of frustration.

Here in Mexico, for the most part, drivers are extraordinarily kind. There’s an unwritten rule called one-and-one, which applies when two traffic queues are trying to merge onto the same lane or when drivers are trying to cross a busy intersection without a stoplight. As its name implies, people calmly stop and wait for the other person to go in front of them before they move through the traffic jam. I’ve never seen anything like it. Drivers stop for pedestrians, too.

Our kids observe us all the time, and my point in telling you this factoid about Mexico is that the way we behave directly influences the attitudes and values our kids develop. We can talk about good manners and behavior until we’re blue in the face, but actions speak louder than words.

Next time you’re out in traffic with your kids, show kindness to the other drivers. In fact, show kindness to all the human beings you meet throughout your day. A friendly hello, a smile, a kind word—these actions will show our kids what we really value. And don’t we want them to grow up in a world where people are consistently nice to each other instead of the other way around? It all starts with you.

Happy spring and thanks for reading Tidewater Family Plus!

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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