Everybody is Somebody's Baby
Today's subway ride was a harrowing test of my patience and my belief in the goodness of humanity. I could make that statement just about every day, but I digress. A man wedged himself beside me, pushing his arm on top of mine and jamming his elbow into my ribs as he turned the pages of his paper. I sat in silence, uncomfortable, but not shocked as this was not the first time my personal space had been invaded so egregiously. The man was oblivious to the debate that raged inside my skull as I contemplated whether to say something.
"Get off of me!" I wanted to shout. "Don't make a scene," I warned myself.
Then, I thought of some of the character work we teach in our reading units. We teach kids to consider alternate points of view and to think how a scene would go from a different character's perspective. I began to see this man and our ride on the subway differently. I considered his background, and I thought perhaps he came from a culture more accustomed to close physical contact between strangers.
I thought about how my interpretation of our interaction isn't the only right way. I thought about how much I touch my baby son (constantly), and that in my culture we touch each other much less as we get other. Then I thought about this man's mother. At one time, he was a baby. Someone gave birth to him. And someone, either his birth mother or someone else, fed him, clothed him, and helped him grow into a man. At one point, he was the center of someone's universe. Who am I to treat him like he doesn't matter?
We all have a mother. Even if she didn't raise us, she grew us in her womb and gave birth to us. She gave us life. The next time I consider lashing out at a stranger, I will remember he was once someone's baby. I will treat him how I want my baby to be treated, as he traverses the world fifty years from now.