I think being part of the human tribe is hard, but for my seven-year-old Buddha, it seems kind of cake-walky. It’s not that nothing bad ever happens to him. I mean, a few weeks ago he breathlessly announced that he was pretty sure he’d met a bully at school. Yet his thrilled expression matched that of someone who’d spotted a Yeti. Some boy had cornered him at the water fountain and said, “ME NO LIKE YOUR NAME!'” (Maybe it was a Yeti.) My son happily added, “I just ignored him.” He saw the whole situation as an opportunity to exercise his willpower and kindness.
If my genetic matter had any bearing on the situation at all, there would have been some spitting of warm mouth-water into certain people’s too-close-together eyeballs. But that, of course, is half the reason I’m so fascinated by his insights into a life well-lived. He really addresses some of the most basic and troubling challenges of living among others. Case in point: what he shared with me during the three-minute car ride from school today…
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU MEET SOMEONE WITH A BAD NAME
Mom, they moved me to a new bus this week.
OH? DO YOU LIKE YOUR NEW BUS DRIVER?
Yeah, but I feel really bad for her, because she has a really bad name. It’s MISS DIRTY. That’s a REALLY bad name to have. Well, actually, I guess it’s not so bad. It’s kind of pretty if you just say it—misterdee! But then if you think about what it means? Well, it’s a pretty bad name, so I feel really bad for her.
SO, IF YOU THINK SOMEONE HAS A BAD NAME, SHOULD YOU SAY SOMETHING TO THEM ABOUT IT?
No, because that would hurt their feelings. Just pretend you didn’t notice.
WHAT IF YOU SAID, “HEY, THAT’S A REALLY NEAT NAME!”
Sure. You could do that. It would probably make them feel good.
BUT ISN’T THAT A LIE?
Sometimes there’s such a thing as a good lie.
WHAT’S A GOOD LIE? LIKE, IF SOMEONE ASKS, “DOES MY BUTT LOOK REALLY BIG IN THESE PANTS?” DO YOU SAY, “NO WAY”?
Pretty much. Yup.
CAN YOU GIVE YOUR OWN EXAMPLE OF A GOOD LIE?
Like, maybe if someone’s really naughty, you tell them, “Hey, there! You do a really good job following the rules!”
HONEY, DO YOU KNOW WHAT SARCASM IS?