From day one, we have taught our girls that they need to be able to apologize and say, “I’m sorry”. We’ve taught them that if they hurt someone, even if it was an accident, that they need to apologize. I had no idea that as we was teaching this lesson to them, that they would soon call me out on this.
Although the adoption agency only had a few short weeks to prepare us for the girls, they did make an intentional effort to let us know that we were exemplifying to the girls how they should behave. If we made a mistake, we should apologize. When we are sad or feeling a strong emotion, we should let them know. All I could think of when we were told this was, what? I should apologize? Nope. I make no mistakes. (Ha!) And that’s where the problem lay…
Before I share a particular incident, I am hyper-aware that females say “I’m sorry” or “Sorry” simply because we’re trained to apologize for anything and everything. I do not want my girls to apologize simply for being. And I’m not teaching this to them. Instead, Chris and I are vigilant in teaching them that when they hurt someone- intentionally or not- that they need to apologize.
Potty training sucks.
When MW came home with us, she was close to turning three years-old. We had been told by her host families that she was ready to go through potty training. However, since they only hosted her for a few days at a time, the families were unable to make any headway with her.
After the first two weeks of brining the girls home, Chris and I decided it was time to get MW out of diapers. We were ready to have only one girl in diapers. The first week of potty training went as expected. She would go occasionally and would sometimes tell us when she needed to go to the bathroom. Once we discovered that a sticker chart was incentive enough for her, she started going regularly.
The next two weeks went well. During the third week, I thought she may be ready to be in underwear full-time.
And that’s when it happened.
Bears can fly.
To be honest, the first few weeks of having the girls were extremely tough. We were all learning each other. I was discovering how I would respond to my kids as their mom. And Chris and I were exhausted. All the time.
I kept my cool for the most part. But there were times when I overreacted. Chris received the brunt of these overreactions as I wanted to be as calm as possible with the girls.
But this particular instance, MW had gone too far: she brought her teddy bear to the bathroom.
The nerve! All this potty training and going to the bathroom by herself. And she had the gull to bring her teddy bear into the bathroom? At first, I calmly asked her to put teddy on the kitchen counter. She refused. I asked a couple more times. She then used her super high-pitched whining voice to start complaining and saying no and telling me she needed teddy to go to the bathroom.
I don’t recall what I said. I probably told her that she did not need teddy. Or perhaps I told her teddy was leaving the building. Maybe I simply told her to give me teddy.
But as much as I cannot recall what I said, I remember vividly what I did next: I grabbed teddy out of her hands, hurled him out of the bathroom and sent him flying across the kitchen.
Mommy, say sorry to teddy.
I walked out of the bathroom, closed the door, and left MW to do her business. I’d like to tell you that I instantly felt remorse and guilt for throwing the bear out of the bathroom. But I didn’t. I still just wanted MW to go to the bathroom.
After she finished doing her work and calming down, she opened the door and walked into the kitchen.
And that’s when the guilt occurred. Not on my own. Not because I felt bad in and of myself. But because my two year-old called me out on throwing teddy.
“Mommy,” said MW as she walked over to her bear, “you hurt teddy. Say sorry.”
Well played, MW. Well played.
I then apologized to the bear. And MW also made me give him a kiss.