It’s odd how difficult it feels to apologize to my child; as though our culture suggests apology will admit some undetected weakness in myself and give my son pause to consider how he can further exploit this new knowledge for his own gain. Eww. That doesn’t sit well with my gut.
Kids seem to me to be desirous of keeping peace in a family but also having the freedom and need to explore and maintain their sense of power over themselves and others. I’d venture a guess that many adults feel the same way they just have more practice with a finer vocabulary and more complex cognitive function.
While the effects of sleep deprivation are playing its tricks on me tonight, the thought that continues to resurface today is the power of a sincere apology. I have apologized twice today for things I was doing the best I thought in the moment but in hindsight found regret.
The face of an angel can turn sour fast, taking a pretty firm stance in the face of feeling man-handled, as in the case of my deciding that today was the day we would conquer learning to nose-blow. That totally ruined our mojo for the morning. To my surprise and relief, the little black cloud hanging over his head dissipated instantly when I pondered out loud what that experience might have been like for him and that I was sorry our morning got off to a rough start and that I was sorry he felt that way.
I asked if we could do a “Scooby-Doo Ending” where we start back over from where we were still having a great morning and go from there.
He said yes.
It worked. Surprise. Our day went on awesome.
I can’t help but think this is profound. Someday I will have not children but grown men. Like most of us, I am doing the best I can with the information I have at this moment. Someday though they may struggle with something, or feel wronged somehow by how a situation was handled. Justifying my choices will not be what they need, but rather a willing ear and an apology. Someday when the topics are more complicated, instead of suggesting how they might have felt as when they are young, I will be able to ask how it made them feel. And then listen.
Apology without excuse can be a gift of freedom as well as a painful and scary gift to give. Today the only thing at stake was a refusal to blow snot and my delivery was halting and unsure. I can only wonder how unnerving and vulnerable it might feel taking on something real and hurtful. If today is an indicator though it could also be immensely valuable for my children.
So, tomorrow will be a bright new day and I get a fresh perspective.
Tomorrow I will let go of who says what age is supposed to be doing what.
Tomorrow is another chance for me to find humor and realize some lessons are better left discovered rather than micromanaged.
Tomorrow I will remember that we are on the same team.
I will remember that the light in this boy’s eyes capture who he is at his core.
Looking forward to tomorrow.