These past few days, our family has taken evening strolls around our new neighborhood. As we approach people on the sidewalk, most are wearing masks (even the runners) and will step into the street to distance themselves as we pass. We give each other a quick nod, and though our mouths are covered, we can see the smile in each other’s eyes. Then we go on our way.
It’s a refreshing gesture of kindness and respect. They see a family with small kids and know it’s impossible for us to move to the side. So they take the courtesy of going into the street so we can continue on the sidewalk. Though it’s a minor inconvenience for them, it’s a much appreciated gesture. There’s a mutual understanding that we’re not in the most ideal situation, but they’re willing to take a few extra inconveniences of wearing a mask and walking in the street to keep us safe.
It’s a nice perspective shift from the raging debates online. While it’s good to have conversations around it, I’m intrigued by the views that wearing a mask and social distancing is somehow a communist muzzle on personal freedom. They see the safety measures as problems. The people we encountered walking on the street saw them as opportunities. Opportunities to be kind, to self-sacrifice, and to serve others.
Though our 2-year-old son doesn’t like wearing the mask, he does it. When there’s no one around, we let him take it off. But as we approach people, we put it on. We do it as a courtesy to protect other people from him. He gets it. When he sees people, he’ll tell us, “People. Wear mask.” And he sticks out his chin for us to put it on. He knows it’s something he has to do and doesn’t complain about it. And there is A LOT he complains about.
So maybe shift your perspective. No one likes wearing masks and social distancing. It’s not going to be forever. But it’s needed for now. It’s not everywhere – just when there’s people around you. Instead of rage fighting against it, see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to sacrifice a small convenience to be nice to other people, like holding open a door. If my 2-year-old can wear a mask around other people, so can you.
One of our favorite bedtime books is “What to Do With a Problem.” On one page, it reads, “My problem held an opportunity! It was an opportunity for me to learn and to grow. To be brave. To do something.”