Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Sorry


I remember being a child. My own children might find that hard to believe. They believe that I was a child. They buy into that. And while they are all imaginative little beings, they have a hard time imagining that I once walked the Earth as an infant, as a baby, as a child, as a teenager. They will ask me questions about my childhood, but you can see it in their eyes that they can’t totally believe my recall of it. These kids, who so easily believe in the tooth fairy and in Santa Claus and who create elaborate imaginary worlds of their own to inhabit, can’t fathom me as a child.

But I was once a child. I was. And if I spend enough time thinking about it, I can remember emotions I held, fears I kept within, and pain I tried my best to hide. I can remember being in trouble. I can remember annoying a parent or a sibling just to annoy them. I can remember plotting against other siblings. I can remember getting caught.

And I can remember how hard it was to spit out the words, “I’m sorry” and make them appear to be real so whoever was forcing me to apologize would feel I meant it. Why did they have to be heartfelt? Because if you couldn’t make the emotions appear to be present – when they were certainly not – then you continued to be in trouble. But if I could appease my mother and, less often, my father, then I could continue to go about doing my own little thing, unhindered, unpunished.

What brings this all to mind – besides the prompt from Sunday Scribblings this week – is seeing my own children struggle to attain the same convincing attitude so that I will get off their case. So they can continue to watch TV or play games or stay at the dinner table or stay out of their rooms.

Since I consider myself a pro at the art of apology utterances which hold no meaning beyond a pass key to freedom, the kids have a tougher go of it. I am relentless in doling out punishment until I feel they are, in fact, truly sorry. Are they sorry for whatever misdeed? Maybe. But they’re sorrier for themselves far more.

You know what? Sometimes, that’s enough.

[Now, go read others’ Sunday Scribblings. You won’t be sorry. A final postscript: All this was written having seen someone else mention that "Sorry" was the prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings. I just went over there and, in fact, the ladies were saying they were sorry, but there wouldn't be a prompt this week. In the end, it appears "Sorry" is the prompt. So look at the comments section to find others' links. Sorry for the confusion. Heh heh heh.]

20 comments:

Jo said...

A very illuminating take. I enjoyed reading.......I am always apologising to my kids, to set a good example, and my husband goes mad: never apologise as a parent is his motto. No wonder my boys are confused about apologies LOL.......

Jeni said...

One thing for sure, I'm definitely not sorry that I took the time to click into your blog this morning before leaving the house for the day. Great post!

khambagirl said...

You sound like a good parent -- one with boundaries, who also remembers what it was like to be a child.

gautami tripathy said...

Parenting is not an easy job. But you are doing a good job of it.

These questions will always remain.

Law of parenting..:D

Robin said...

I often wonder about just this - is an apology "worth" anything if it's coerced, or do we as parents have to coerce for now, in the hopes that it will someday sink in...

Josie Two Shoes said...

Yes, Patty, this whole sorry mess on Sunday Scribblings was a little confusing! I'm not sure why they didn't realize we would all want to scribble whether the links got up by Sunday or not! So scribble away we shall... and I can say for certainty that I am not at all sorry that I read your post! It brought back all those unfelt but necessary apologies of childhood! I like Jyankee's approach with her daughter... it is not enough to say that you are sorry, you also need to be able to express exactly what it is that you are sorry for, so that it is clear you truly understand what you did wrong. I wish I would have had that concept when my children were young!

Maria said...

I'm an adult and it is still very, very hard for me to apologize. In the Harry Potter books,the character of Albus Dumbledore says something like it is much harder to apologize to someone when you know that they are right then when you know that they are wrong....and I think that is true, if you think about it.

UL said...

Wise words, I always thought(as a child) that parenting would be easy, now that I am a parent(and I have a toddler), I wonder how my parents managed to discipline three of us...somehow your post prompted these thoughts, thank you. Really nice.

tumblewords said...

I can identify with so much of your post. Nicely written thoughts!

ABW said...

I can really understand where you are coming from. I was making my daughter apologize today until I felt like she really meant it, but it still didn't seem right. If only I could get her to understand what I was trying to get at....maybe someday....I hope and pray.

My kids love to hear stories from when I was young. I think they love to think about me being so little!

Just Jen said...

I'm sorry! LOL
I know what you mean, my youngest is often sorry he's in trouble, not sorry for the deed. However, he will not apologize no matter what until he actually is sorry. Once he sulked for 3 days before coming to me and saying he was sorry for doing such and such and this is why. Then the other kid wouldn't accept his apology. I think it took him too long and the other kid didn't think it was sincere because it took him so long to say it...lol he was then no longer sorry of course and angry at the other kid. Ah, the perils of childhood...LOL

Lisa said...

This was a great read. My three year old is just starting to try to use sorry as a manipulation tool or as a sarcastic means to get out of getting in trouble. Oh the look on her face when she sees it is not going to work.

Herb Urban said...

My daughter is going through a phase where she will say sorry for just about anything. She'll sat it to us, her stuffed animals or other random objects. But getting to understand what it means and truly meaning it when she does something wrong is not quite as easy.

I really enjoyed this post.

Gill said...

It bugs me like crazy when one of my daughters glibly says sorry, when you can see very well that they don't mean it and are just using the word to get off the hook! Nice to know I'm not alone.

WorksForMom said...

This was so much fun to read Patois. I can identify with you so much on this.

Isn't it amazing that children can't believe we were children? I remember thinking that about my parents.

cjh said...

I haven't really ever checked out Sunday Scribblings before. I like it. Dare I say more than 10 on Tuesday? Gasp! I may have to get in on it.

mitzh said...

I can definitely say yes over and over again, while reading this post.

My daughter always gave me the I don't believe you, kind of look whenever I told her what I was like when I was her age.

Joseph C. Harris said...

Great Post. I like it that people took the sorry and ran with it. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog.

Gina said...

It is funny, because I am certain that Mr. P cannot wrap his mind around that fact that I had a life that existed pre-Mr. P. Much less an entire childhood!

jenica said...

you always make me laugh. i remember having to apologize to clara, a forced friend of mine. i was mortified and angry that i had to do it. if SHE hadn't been so stoopid, then I wouldn't be dealing with this *hassle.* yeah, i was six. ;-D

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