06/12/2012 05:44 pm ET Updated Aug 12, 2012

I Tell My Kids That Mean People Suck

Let's get one thing straight here: I'm an optimist. I'm never confined by the glass half-full thing. My glass is always brimming (granted, it's usually a wine glass) because life is too darn short to spend so much time wondering "what if." I'm a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin and The Happiness Project. I get daily quotes from Positively Positive. I want to believe that people have the best intentions. I want to think that everyone is filled with love and kind thoughts. But this world doesn't have unicorns (although you can get your fill on Etsy) and rainbows are fleeting. You know what really bugs me? Mean people.

Here's the scenario: I'm driving the minivan with a kid in tow. Some "gentlemen" (benefit of the doubt, people) in front of me has his right blinker on. I notice that some folks in the right line are nicely giving him space to move over. They certainly don't have to, but they are doing it anyway. The thing is, he doesn't move over. It seems that he isn't even aware that he has his blinker on. I decide to honk. It's a friendly short tap, not to be confused with a prolonged honk symbolizing anger and frustration. This wasn't that kind of honk at all. My plan is to point to his blinker and give him a heads up. Except, I was never given the opportunity. The kind sir raises his hand through the sunroof and gives me the finger. This makes me crazy. I roll down my window and tell him, "your blinker is on," to which he replies "$%^& You!" My 8-year-old is watching the whole thing go down. He could see that I'm pretty pissed. Here I am trying to do something nice and I'm berated for my kindness. I'm not perfect, but what gives?

Flash back to last summer. I'm driving home from the aquarium with three kids in tow. I'm in the carpool lane and we are just cruising at a decent speed. Suddenly, everyone starts breaking and the next thing I know, we are in a six car fender-bender with my car located somewhere in the middle. I'm hit from behind and I hit the guy in front of me. It's a mess. Two of my boys are freaking out and one is magically still napping. We start taking down information and I call a tow truck to get me physically out of this conundrum on the dreaded 405. Everyone is being super nice, which is unusual for LA freeways. And then it starts: "Get the fu#$ out of the way" people in other cars start yelling at us. "Move your fu#$in car." Um, I'm on it. Except that my car is planted firmly between two other cars, and oh yea, I'm a bit shaken up. No matter. People are honking and cursing and it is the absolute worst.

My 6-year-old tells me about a kid at school, let's call him "Abel," that is just plain angry. Abel goes up to kids and calls them "nerds" and "dummies." My boy says "he just likes to be mean." I know the kid in question's mother, and she happens to be very amiable. I tell my son to treat other people with respect, and I'm sure Abel's mother says the same thing. Some people just get off being rude. I used to apologize for them. I would say "maybe he is having a bad day" or "he's trying to get attention and this is the only way he knows how." But now I'm not so sure. And I'm tired of defending them. So I tell my kids that some people are mean. And mean people suck. But you know what? We are still going to be nice and we are not going to let them ruin our thunder. But they do suck, sorry about it.