Four words took the cake for me last week. They found themselves making their way across my lips multiple times in one day. And I learned a little about not only why I needed to use them, but how.
“I am so sorry.”
It all started with yet another crazed morning. Or maybe just a regular morning with a few added extra bumps. For whatever reason, little Jack just couldn’t peel himself from in front of the cozy fire to put on his clothes. So by the time everyone was racing for the door, we realized that the little schnook stood barefoot.
With no time to send him on the search, I raced upstairs to find his shoes. I knew he had a pair of socks on the counter, so i didn’t bother to find those. With kids scurrying to find stuff, I went to grab the socks. But they weren’t there. I was sure I had seen them.
“Where are those socks?!” I yell.
One of my stragglers responded. “Barton got them.”
Just to set the stage, we have sock challenges around here. It never matters how many I buy, a pair can never to be found. Especially for a certain 12-year-old girl, whose day is made when she finds a matching pair.
Thrilled to see a match sitting on the counter, she grabbed and went. It didn’t matter that the pair could fit a five-year-old because with socks, what’s the difference. High on her good fortune, she headed to the door in matching socks on top of which she had already donned her shoes. She was happy.
Until her mother entered the picture.
“Hey! Did you get those socks off the counter?” I frustrate at her.
“Yes.” Her innocently replies.
“Well, those are Jack’s!” I snap. “He needs those back. They’re the only pair I can find for him… Here take these.” I say as I thrust at her a couple larger socks that I had found in the laundry room as I was mad-dashing to find shoes.
Knowing we were in a hurry, she dejectedly took off her shoes and gave me the socks. My goodness, even writing it makes me feel horrible. I can’t believe I did it. Right then and there I made her feel terrible.
Without so much as a word, she obediently put on the socks I handed her. In fact, she didn’t really say much the rest of the morning.
It didn’t take long for my apology to surface. But in the moment, my words were too little and a tiny bit late. When she got out the car at school, I was still floating “Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me?” To which she meekly, almost dutifully, replied yes as she got out of the car.
I couldn’t shake it all day. And I realized that not only had I zipped her in front of everyone, looking like I was putting one sibling’s needs over hers, but I had almost forced her forgiveness of me. At least I was batting a thousand.
After mulling it over, I decided I needed to give her the chance to tell me how I made her feel. I don’t want her to feel second-class over a ridiculous pair of socks. But who knows how a 12-year-old girl will feel on any given day? This is one weed that needs pulling before it plants itself and adds to any tween/teen funk.
So, when I picked her up later that day, I use the car time – you know the sequestered/don’t have to look anyone in the eye time – to giver her room to speak.
“Honey, I’m still so sorry about this morning.”
“No it isn’t. I didn’t mean to put Jack ahead of you. And I think I might have made you feel that way.” Pause. “Will you tell me how it made you feel when I took the socks?”
She sat there.
“It’s okay,” I urge. “It had to have made you feel something.”
“It did.” And then it came, “I already had my shoes on and everything. It’s hard enough to find a pair. Then you gave me socks that didn’t match. One of them is Dad’s and the other is an old knee sock that only comes up to here.” She pointed at her mid-shin. “I’ve been trying to lose that sock for years. I lose all the others, but can’t seem to lose that one. … So I had to go the whole day with two terrible socks and … well, I’m sure no one noticed. Or at least I hope that no one noticed. But I did. It was gross.”
There you have it.
I couldn’t justify a thing. All I could do is now apologize once more. Now at the right time. After she had told me how I wronged her. And I did. “Oh, honey. I blew it. I really am so sorry.”
She smiled at me, and I knew it was done. The weed was gone. And she laughed. “Just don’t do it again,” she smirked.
“I will,” I laughed back. Because we both knew that I would. And that she would. It might not be socks, but I’m sure either one of us will flake in a new way tomorrow. As long as we can talk about it, we’re good to go.
Next stop – Target. I hope each and every time I see her socks, I’m reminded to be aware of my actions and to be ready to make amends.
Maybe in doing so, these kids can see that wonderful healing power hides in admitting you’re wrong, in accepting apologies and in being honest about our feelings… always better than wallowing in self-pity.
A good lesson for me, too.
Thanks for walking the road with me.