Laura on Life: The apology
Itís rare, but every now and then, I find that I have to apologize to a member of my family for writing something obnoxious or saying something in anger that I didnít really mean.
Itís hard to admit when Iím wrong because Iím the all-powerful Mom; the one whoís always right. That kind of power tends to go to oneís head sometimes. However, when I have done something wrong, I always apologize, no matter how difficult, because that is how I want my kids to conduct themselves.
They know that an apology can sometimes spare them from harsher consequences. Itís much easier to say ěIím sorryî than to spend a day in their room or be banned from some fun event.
Once these same children grow up and become adults, however, they donít have to pay those kinds of consequences if their apology is not forthcoming. If they have done something for which they need to apologize to a parent, it takes an act of God for most of them to accept the fact and act on it.
My oldest son and I share the same stubborn streak. Itís rare that we disagree, but it happens. When it does, we can usually come to an understanding without any bloodshed.
He is a good writer, though, and has been known to slay lesser creatures with a flourish of his pen. Fortunately, heís never honed his skills on meÖ until last week.
A boiling cauldron of a bad cold, a bad mood, a bad week at work, and a bad attitude rendered him unable to stem a flow of words that he knew would hurt me.
At first, the clichČd words popped into my head: ěAnd after all Iíve done for him!î Then, a fast-paced movie of my life with this child of mine (who is now a 28-year old man) raced through my mind. I realized, he has not changed all that much. The only difference is that he shaves and has a job nowÖ and I canít send him to his room anymore.
I remember when he was a kid, he could talk to me about anything. I always gave him the chance to tell me the things that were bothering him by taking him out for ice cream, just the two of us. Each of my kids has always been given that opportunity on a pretty regular basis. We believe that ice cream is a tongue lubricant.
Whatever he may think about me now, itís not always clear. One might think he has made it perfectly clear with his pen, but I thought I knew him better than that.
It took him two days to come to the realization that he had screwed up. One never looks forward to eating crow. He may even have tried to rationalize how it might possibly be my faultÖ or at least, not his fault.
However, like I have many times before, he eventually came to the conclusion that he owed me a major apology. Though he lives over an hour away, he made a point to come to my house to ěmake things right.î
Stubborn as I am, I wanted him to grovel a little. I didnít want him to get off too easy, because then we might have a repeat of that awful week.
When he arrived at my doorstep, pale, with his shoulders hunched and hands in his pockets, I said nothing. I glared at him with red-rimmed eyes and dared him to say the wrong thing. The wrong thing would be anything except ěIím sorryîÖ or so I thought.
After clearing his throat, he looked at me, eyes pleading for understanding, and said ěWant to go get some ice cream?î
As it turned out, I did, indeed, want to go get some ice cream.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more information.