The Hardest Thing
The hardest thing to do is to say, “I’m sorry for what I did” and then stop talking.
Especially when apologizing to a 3 year old.
I want to say, “I’m sorry, but you need to listen when I tell you to stop” or “I’m sorry, but that was a special thing that you were holding” or “I’m sorry you are crying, but you weren’t listening to me.”
But none of those things are a true apology. None of them communicate that I’m actually sorry that I roughly grabbed something out of her hand and hurt her.
I want to justify myself as trying to save something that I thought she would rip. I am the parent, after all…surely *I* can grab things when I want them. I have a good reason! And it was a critical situation!
But that’s not modeling appropriate behavior. That’s not showing her the way I want her to respond in the moment.
So I hold her as she sobs and say, “I’m sorry. Momma shouldn’t have grabbed the blanket from you like that. I’m sorry.”
And then I stop. And I take a deep breath. And remind myself that this, *this* is modeling behavior that I want her to use. It’s not easy and it’s not fun, but it’s real and it heals relationships.
I’m reminded of the moment later in the day when she tenderly examines my eye after accidentally poking me with a board book. She apologizes and wants to know how badly it hurts and asks if she can make it feel better. I’m hurt and frustrated, but I smile because she’s trying. She’s trying to make amends. She practicing the skills she sees.
She doesn’t say, “I’m sorry, but it was an accident!” or “I’m sorry, but you moved and got in the way when I was jumping on the couch with this book” or “I’m sorry, but you should have listened when I said ‘move.'”
It’s hard, but worth it.