When your neighbor (whose kids play with yours) is a name-dropper and social-ladder-climber who bad-mouths others, you need to find a way to deal with her. In “Life Lessons,” V. Calder has a unique solution: Rather than strangle her neighbor like she really wants to, she instead turns her energy toward etiquette lessons for her kids…
“I’m tired of being angry with you, of bristling every time I’m in your presence. I don’t like the way I feel when I’m around you, brimming with bitterness and on alert, ready to pounce just to protect my family from your ill-mannered gossip or hurtful barbs. I need to write this letter for me, so I can forgive you for past hurts and move forward, so that your negative energy doesn’t get in my way in the future. So how do I get to the next step? How do I continue being friendly without allowing your actions and words to trouble me or my family? I’ve finally found an answer to that, and it’s been within me all along: As a mother, I need to do what’s best for my family, and that means standing up for my children and teaching them how to stand up for themselves–even against you, an adult. So I have you to thank. After all, your unkind actions have allowed me opportunities to teach my kids how to navigate the tumultuous waters of human nature. I now ask them to remember how they felt when you said or did something hurtful, and then to put those emotions into effect the next time they feel like saying something mean to someone…”
V. CALDER is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer who specializes in writing about health, nutrition, and mind/body issues. She has written for magazines such as Men’s Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, and Walking, where she was an associate editor (and learned how to stride like a pro). As the mind/body editor of FitForAll.com, she not only realized the benefits of meditation, but she also got to work closely with Herbert Benson, MD, founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband and two children. Next on her list: Italy’s Amalfi Coast!
Read the rest of V.’s letter, and 35 others, in P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, now available on Amazon and in bookstores nationwide!