Monday, May 28, 2012

i'm sorry.

There are some kids that just love to act as the moral compass for themselves and all of the other less gracious children that roam our earth.  Their parents have raised them with a definitive answer to what's right and what's wrong and they know EXACTLY where the line is.  And they also know where everyone else's line is...and they aren't afraid to make wrongs right.  When I was little I believe we called the "tattle tales".
I have that kid.
Oh no no no no....not the kid with the moral compass, but the kid that those kids are drawn to like a magnet.
I have the kid that kids love to tattle on.

If I walk up to any situation and hear the phrase, "Are you his mommy?" I can pretty much recite word for word what is coming next.
To be fair, my kid is clumsy, and rammy (Firefox says that's not a word, but I beg to differ.), and can be somewhat careless.  He is also ornery and doesn't always listen.  These aren't great traits to have on a playground full of responsible, level-headed, moral compassing older children.

So Sunday when I walked up to our playground here and was approached by a girl and a boy that had to be around 6 and 7, I knew what was probably coming.
Girl: "Are you his mummy?"
Me: (apprehensively) yyyeeeesssssssssss...
Girl: "I was going down the slide and he was climbing up it (which I had seen her do just moments earlier) and he stepped on my hand and kicked my leg.
Boy standing beside her: "And when I was sitting at the top of the slide he pushed me down."

Okay...let's pause for a minute.
I know what my response should be.
I know this.

What I wanted to say: "GET A GRIP!  You're SEVEN!  He's THREE (and will be four in four days - but that's beside the point)!  He's a little clumsy and careless and it was probably an accident - except the pushing down the slide part....BUT YOU'RE SEVEN!"


Don't worry.  I didn't say that.  Instead I made Miles apologize to the kids, although I could tell by the look on his face that he was totally confused about the entire thing.

Why did I not make excuses for him?  Because friends, I wanted to.  I wanted them to understand that he is just a little boy with a lot of energy.  I wanted them to back off.  I wanted them to realize that tattling is annoying.
But instead I made him apologize to them.
Because although I'm 95% sure that the first complaint was an accident, and the second was probably him trying to be playful, it somehow hurt these other kids.  And I want my son to learn that apologizing isn't just for when you did something naughty, which I'm pretty sure is what he thinks at this point.
I want him to learn that apologizing is also important when you had the best intentions, but they were ill received.  I want him to understand that his actions affect others around him and he needs to be gentle and loving, and every once in awhile he needs to take it down a notch.
I want him to be an asset to society.  I want him to be the change we need to see in the world.
I know adults that could stand to apologize every now and again....even when they had the best intentions.  I know an adult sitting in this desk chair that could swallow her pride every once in awhile and send out an apology, even when something was simply mis-represented.
And I can think of a whole lot of us that could benefit from an occasional and deserving apology.