Zits by Jerry Scott
& Jim Borgman

On the way to the first day of school, I asked my daughter what it was like to be 14. She had turned 14 at summer camp, and I hadn’t asked yet.

“It’s good,” she said. “Fourteen is truly teenage. Thirteen isn’t.”

“I understand,” I said, not really understanding. Then again, I think 47 is really middle aged now, when 46 felt like it was and I’m not planning to live beyond 46×2. She’s really a teenager, one year late. I’m really middle-aged, one year late.

Then she added this: “You know Jeremy in Zits?”

It’s a daily newspaper comic that we’ve read for years. Jeremy is a disaffected adolescent, treating his parents with disdain at almost every turn. Perhaps it seems natural. Perhaps some think it’s cute. But around our home, we’ve discussed his behavior as unacceptable. “Well,” my daugher continued, “It isn’t inevitable that kids hate their parents during the teenage years.”

I liked hearing that. “I agree. It’s a choice…”

She turned to disagree, because it sounded like I was saying that the choice was hers alone, that it was her choice to like me, no matter what.

“It’s a choice that each of us makes,” I continued. “For me, I sometimes have to choose between having a good, kind-hearted relationship with you, or being right. Sometimes, the price of relationship is giving up being right.”

Today, at breakfast with my friend Deborah, we discussed this story. The lesson (do you want a relationship or do you want to be right?) seems applicable in all sorts of relationships: at work, at play, in the community, among family.

Are you willing to give up being right in order to have a stronger relationship with someone? This doesn’t mean caving on the most essential arguments. But some arguments aren’t worth having. And, sometimes — just sometimes — you might not be right anyway.