Monday, August 31, 2009

Who's Sorry Now?

"The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven’s lieutenants." -William Shakespeare

Man oh man it's got to be frustrating to be a baby. A toddler. Excuse me... "a little girl," as my daughter now refers to herself. Put aside the daily struggle with the pooping and peeing in the pants. Ignore the language barrier that causes us as parents to turn into a couple of Jackie Chan sidekicks when trying to decipher what she just said. Not to mention her constant attempts to accomplish something on your own, for the first time, the second time, or just the next time... but can't.

Those are all frustrating. But the most frustrating? It's gotta be that we keep changing the rules on her. Poor kid.

Ever since she could talk, walk, and slap, we have ingrained in her head the concept of the apology. And now, she obliges. A conciliatory, sincere, often immediate apology often follows any wrongdoing. But now there are times where she's gone too far. And saying "sorry" just isn't enough.

One night my daughter was extra cranky and overtired. She wanted us to read her a book that she was holding, but my wife told her she'd have to wait until we finished getting her ready for bed. At that point our little girl proceeded to smack my wife upside the head with the book. And although the thought of this scene playing out in my mind still causes me to giggle (I'm giggling right now - evil), this behavior is unacceptable. I'll let funny stuff slide sometimes, but acting out sight gags from The Three Stooges simply crosses the line. That could be downright dangerous.

Why I oughtta...

My wife, always a buoy of calm wading in a sea of chaos, lost it. She had to leave the room she was so angry (as I suppressed my laughter). It was then I informed our daughter that she will be going right to bed and we would not be reading her a book.

"Soorrreee."

Nope.

And she didn't understand. I put her in her crib despite her vehement protests. She repeatedly screamed her apology in desperation "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry!" Once I calmed her down, I explained to her that while it's good that she's sorry for using a children's book as a weapon to nearly concuss her mother, that sometimes saying your sorry is just not enough. It doesn't make it right.

This, as you can imagine, did not go over well.

Consider her point of view: all she knows is to apologize if she does something wrong, and she is forgiven. It's the foundation of our faith. It's how we believe we get into heaven despite our faults, despite our sins. Geez, in less philosophical terms, to my daughter it's the quickest route back to getting a cookie.

Now we're saying, "Well, technically it's good you apologized BUUUT..." And that's a pretty big 'but.'

Now, I like big buts, and I cannot lie... but this is one of the biggest. We're getting into intent. And interpreting intent. The subjective, murky, gray areas that children cannot grasp. Espcially a 2 1/2 year old.

The same goes for "please." I don't care how sweetly you say please, my little darling, or how nicely you ask in a full sentence like I require. You're not getting a cookie before you eat breakfast.
Now I'm the one who is sorry. Sorry that my wife got blindsided with a book (snort snort giggle). Sorry that my daughter did all she knew she could to remedy the situation. And sorry that to us, it wasn't enough , and she didn't know why, and couldn't comprehend the reason.

Maybe we're the ones who are out of our minds.

2 comments:

  1. Not out of your minds. you did the right thing. She needed to know there is a consequence for those kids of behaviors, and that sorry isn't always enough, but is still necessary.
    It is a difficult thing to teach, but with consistency, she'll understand it.
    Good luck. Your daughter sounds like a firecracker, much like my little one. :)

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  2. Not out of your minds. you did the right thing. She needed to know there is a consequence for those kids of behaviors, and that sorry isn't always enough, but is still necessary.
    It is a difficult thing to teach, but with consistency, she'll understand it.
    Good luck. Your daughter sounds like a firecracker, much like my little one. :)

    ReplyDelete

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