Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Love Letter from My Daughter

"Mom, I think that you hate me."

What did I do to deserve such a lovely note? (Though, I should say I applaud her pre-K penmanship and grammar skills.)

This morning, the Boy and the Girl performed their usual morning antics while we waited for the big yellow bus to come scoop the Boy up for school.  By 'antics,' I mean that they both zip around on vehicles of their choosing.  He rides a Spider-man scooter, while she rides a Disney Princess bike equipped with (heavily abused) training wheels. 

They both like to go fast.

They both like to ride the same route.

It was only a matter of time before these preferences resulted in injury.  The Girl sped up the (slight) hill while the Boy raced down.  They clipped each other's handlebars, and he tumbled off the scooter. 

I was hauling plastic garbage bags of yard waste around to the curb (cue: "I Am Every Woman,"), so I saw this all from a few yards away.  I gave him a second to decide if he was hurt. The tears were kind of a tip-off that he decided yes, he was hurt.  Closer inspection revealed scraped palms, a wounded knee,  and a bruised ego.  For the latter, I asked the Girl to apologize.

Now, I didn't want her to apologize because she did anything wrong, but because I am trying to instill a sense of empathy.  When one of my kids hurts another -- accidentally or purposefully -- I want them to be sorry that it happened, and sorry for the hurt the other one feels.  The Little Guy is excused from this since his verbal skills would just confuse the others. Unless he's asking for pizza, goldfish crackers, 'Wiggles,' or 'Scooby Doo,' then he's clear as a bell.

The reason I'm insistent on these apologies is that I've run into (not literally) people who think that apologies are warranted only if they intended to do harm.  Accidents are the universe's fault, so why apologize for those?  If you mow over an old lady to get to the checkout lane that just opened up at the grocery store, well, there's no need to apologize, because you didn't mean to break her hip.

Those people are jerks.

Since I am the boss of my house (well, co-boss), I get to mandate that apologies are offered when injury results from intent OR accidental commission.  And the Girl, well, she has started declaring that she thinks we hate her if we make her do something that goes against her grain.

My response?

"No, honey, I love you, and I want you to grow up and have friends and people who like you and love you.  And if you're unkind to people, you won't have that."

Please don't think I say this beatifically while a short blond banshee wails that we hate her because we didn't give her the 47 pieces of chocolate that she wanted.  No, my calm explanations are at the low points of a dramatic sine wive.  At the zenith?  I usually have to excuse myself from the room so that I can go calm myself down.  And then after we all calm down, there are giggle fits and hugs and kisses.

I don't envy my husband ten years from now, when she's in the thick of puberty and I will likely be in the throes of menopause.

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