Imagine the example this sets for a 4 year old.
A couple of days ago, Lila was climbing on/beating up Ben on the couch (as usual) and he moved the wrong way and accidentally pulled her hair (or hit her with an elbow, or something). She started crying and was very upset because she thought he had done it on purpose.
As mothers, we all know that there is no use in trying to explain to a 4 year old that it was not done on purpose and that there is no reason to be upset unless you really want to drag the tears out for 45 minutes. It's best just to say sorry and give a kiss to make it better and move on with your day.
|It isn't a game.|
"Say you're sorry, Daddy." I told him. "That's what you do when you hurt someone."
You might want to sit down when I tell you his response.
"I didn't hurt her. She did it herself. What should I apologize for?"
Go ahead. Let that sink in for a minute.
|You should note that THESE boys are about|
8 years old.
Obviously shocked that he would even need to be told to apologize, let alone debate the issue with me, I went on. "Ben, she needs to know that when you hurt someone, the right thing to do is apologize. You don't claim you didn't do it. You don't tell them to get over it. YOU SAY YOU'RE SORRY. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE DO WHEN THEY HURT SOMEONE WHETHER THEY MEAN IT OR NOT...."
"Yeah, but I didn't do anything. She did it." I suddenly realized that I am teaching morality to not one, but TWO children.
"Ben," I said. "When she accidentally knocks someone over in school even if they bump into HER, should she turn to them and say 'I didn't do anything. I don't know what to tell you,' or should she instinctively say, 'Sorry, let me help you up?'"
Eyes rolling, and with a dramatic sigh that I mostly recognize from my 4 year old drama queen, he belts out, "FINE! Sorry."
|This is what he was really saying.|
"She isn't even REALLY crying!" REALLY BEN??? This is what you are going with? "She is only making a big deal of this because YOU are."
"Um...No. If you had just apologized and rubbed her head where it hurt this would have been over, but since you are acting like a bratty child, she still feels bad because you clearly don't care that you hurt her."
"I DIDN'T HURT HER!!!!" He is still sticking to his story. "Plus, I just said I was sorry and she's still crying."
What the hell kind of person did I get involved with? Am I going to find the bodies of mutilated squirrels in the basement? What kind of animal doesn't just try to make their 4 year old feel better?
|This song is stuck in my head now.|
"Ben, you need to realize that you are showing her how to treat people. If you don't want her to be a total asshole when she gets older, you need to do a better job of not showing her what an asshole acts like."
At this I went over to Lila and tried to change the subject.
He walked out of the room pissed off.
We haven't talked about it since.