In the Middle

Kids have a way of putting things into perspective in terms that are simple and direct ...

My oldest daughter was telling me about the kids in her class the other day. It went something like this: "I really like this person, that person is kind of mean, I don't like him very much, and well, that person, she's in the middle."

"In the middle?" I said. "What does that mean?"

"Mommy," she said with the exasperation of every seven-year-old who is not understood by her mother. "It means there's things I like about her, and things I don't like. They all even out. So she's just in the middle. I don't have a problem with her. We play sometimes, we're just not really good friends."

"Wow, that's a great concept," I said meaning it.

"I mean most people are in the middle. I only really, really like about three people. I only really, really don't like about three people. So that leaves everyone else in the middle," she said matter-of-factly.

I thought about this very practical way of sorting the people in our lives and it makes total sense. If we're honest with ourselves most of the people we know at work, in our neighborhood, at church, at our children's school are simply "in the middle." We don't dislike them, but we don't really hang out with them. It's nothing personal, they just happen to fall into our "middle."

If you're lucky, you have a handful of people you really, really like in your life. Again, if you're lucky, you only have a handful of people you dislike in your life. But everyone else – well, they're "in the middle." The thing that I like about this simple concept is that it casts no judgment on the many people we come in contact with every day who are in this category; it just acknowledges that we can't possibly have strong feelings one way or another about everyone. It wouldn't be practical.

Once again I'm learning about life from the wisest person I know, my daughter.


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