It’s been a week. At times like this I think of a line made famous by my then- toddler sister: “Whew, I had a hard weekend last night!” We feel you Lindy, we feel you.
Lately there’s been a lot of apologizing in the Madesko house, and explaining and forgiving. We’ve had a lot of missteps (on accident & on purpose; the highlights being my favorite pair of sunglasses and a fancy glass ball) that we’ve had to navigate together. For us, apologizing to and in front of the kids has always been important. When you show accountability to your kids, they get a more full understanding of what apologizing actually means. Its easy to say SORRY when you’re 3 and you’re mom asked you to say it. There are other ways we help them understand; explaining empathy, relating it to themselves (you get it) But what helps them understand the most is seeing and experiencing you express responsibility and remorse. Same goes for other interpersonal relationships. You can say you’re sorry all you want, but your actions and behavior will be the true tell. Talking to each other about our feelings also helps the opposing parties understand the other, and understand the whole picture. Zara’s ASD lends her mind to be very literal; “Are you hungry?” “No, I’m Zara.” so we try to talk straight to the facts. It can be hard to get the message back and forth, but We are learning as we go.
It’s flat out impossible to be a perfect person; thus impossible to behave like a perfect parent: Never yell, always know how to react, not project, never misunderstand, always be patient etc. Are you Snow White? Me neither. She also ate that super shady apple so- not the brightest. It’s great to strive and hold a standard, but be realistic. So instead of saying “I’m never going to do _____ or______ – get used to apologizing and owning your shit, because no one can do it all, all the time.
When you mess up, it’s important to own it. Across all the relationships in my life, including the one I have with myself, accountability is the bulk of the message. We can be quick to defend our own perspective or actions, but often situations take in a larger scope, and explaining sounds a lot like excuses when you are missing the element of ownership. Zoom out the lens and consider the whole picture.
What’s that? Some examples? YOU GOT IT.
“Please tell your sister that you’re sorry you hit her. When she knocks over your toys it makes you upset and mad, but we don’t hit eachother because it hurts. She has an ouch now, can you please give her a hug or a pat when you say sorry?”
“I’m sorry Daddy, I forgot to get your favorite pickles at the store! I know you’ve been looking forward to them. I understand you feel sad. I will remember next time, I promise!”
“Sorry I broke your glasses Mommy, maybe we can get new ones at the store! I crushed them with my foot. I’ll be careful next time when I’m jumping. We’ll get new ones Mamma, at the store, we can go to Red Store (Target) don’t cry, we”ll be fine at Red Store.”
“Is it too late now to say sorry?” No it’s not Justin, it never is.
Our Bieber lesson this week, was after Zara smashed a blown glass orb I had just bought. I explained to her- “this is made of glass, it can break very easily. We have to be careful and touch it gently and put it away. It’s for mommy’s Halloween costume, but I’m going to put it up safe here with the decorations. Do not touch please.” Later Lela and I are in the back playing with chalk; Zara comes blazing through the door, and SPIKES the ball to the ground. Glass everywhere. I’m like WTF?!?! I panic a little, we are all barefoot, I- L I T E R A L L Y just explained to her it’s importance and fragility like, whyyyyyyyy?!
So I yell. “GET BACK, and GO TO YOUR ROOM” “I’m sorry mamma” “No Zara- GO” I’m holding Lela with one arm- trying to stiff arm Zara with the other across the pile of shards because she’s trying to hug me to apologize. I should bring them in, gather myself, and explain what’s happened. I don’t, I just go siren mode. After, it’s fine, I’ve cleaned it up, Zara is in her room; crying. It’s my fault really, if it needed protecting I should have put it all the way away behind a closed door. I know she can get to the mantle if she really wants to. I wasn’t watching her, the door was open but I couldn’t see her. She’s 3 years old, I am an adult. Or trying to be. I go up there, I apologize. I tell her I’m sorry I yelled at her. Breaking that ball was a naughty thing to do, but I shouldn’t have yelled and made her upset. She explains she wanted to play, I tell her I understand but that it’s glass and it will break, it’s very dangerous. I want her to be safe, and to please do her best to listen to me when I say we have to be careful. I say I should not have put it on the shelf, I should have put it away. I am sorry, she is sorry, we are sorry. We hug, say “I love you” a few times, we move on, it’s all OK.
As most things in life, it’s easier said than done. The main thing is practice. As the Colonel from the movie Spirit (Zara’s fave) says, “Discipline, time and patience are the great levelers.” The guy’s mostly an antagonist asshole, but I do like that line. So basically, keep trying. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. When I yell or react too harshly or “lose” an annoying toy- I apologize. Sometimes it’s the best I can do, and it teaches my kids accountability and respect, and teaches me as well! I will 10/10 keep making mistakes, let’s hope they forgive me. I’m still sad my jeans don’t fit right, but I do love those kids, so I forgive them. Still waiting on that apology though…
Apologize, forgive yourself, love yourself- repeat.
*Will sometimes accept: “Sorry, not sorry”
*Accountability Side note: When I started this project, my intentions were; to post a few times a week, to do my best, and remind others to do the same. Just three weeks in, I’m realizing sometimes one post is the best I can do. I have apologized for falling short, and forgiven myself for being human. Self care Sunday came at a good time- Lela is taking a great nap and Zara is content with a rare “quiet time” because she nightmared (word?) about spiders all night 🕷