"First, she did something really horrible, and then she came up in the last class and said, 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean it.' And you know what I said? I said, 'What. Evah.'"
[Is "What. Evah." not one of the most annoying bits of tween and teen talk out there? Whatev.]
* * *
I don't know how it works on your elementary school yard, but at the school I've been frequenting for nearly eight years, it works like this:
Perpetrator perpetrates act against Victim. Victim or Victim's friend goes and tells the Yard Duty Supervisor what perpetrator did. Often, Perpetrator will follow the relater of the incident to the yard duty as well. Yard Duty sorts out who did what to whom. Perp is made to apologize to Victim. Victim is made to accept apology. Perp and Victim separate and go on their merry ways.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Generally speaking, the apology is so freakin' hollow as to be laughable. The Perpetrator isn't sorry. He's sorry he got caught. He's sorry he had to come talk to the Yard Duty. He's sorry he has to say he's sorry. He's sorry he might get benched. But he's not sorry he did whatever it is he did.
And the Victim? He doesn't really think, "That's okay." He thinks the Perp should be punished severely. He thinks the Perp should get what's coming to him. He thinks the Perp is a dick. He thinks it sucks that he has to accept an apology that is so contrived and meaningless.
* * *
I explain to the vanload of kids all of that. I tell them that what's wrong with the policy at the school is that it lets people do whatever mean thing they feel like and then it absolves them. But so many times, the Perp isn't contrite. And each time we absolve him (with or without accompanying
I tell them that we know when an apology is genuine. We forgive and let go when we feel it is. But there's no need to forgive someone who isn't genuinely apologetic. There's no need to forgive someone who will just go and do the same thing again. I tell the kids that we've all done bad things, made mistakes, hurt others, and we know when we've been genuinely sorry and when we've not been. And we can also tell the difference when someone is genuinely sorry they've hurt us and when they're just gaming us.
I told Daughter what she already knew: She is old enough to decide when to forgive and when to say, "What. Evah."