One of the things I learned from my dad as a little girl is that when you've blown it as a parent, when you've really blown it, it's good and decent to admit this to your child. I'm really glad I "caught" this idea while I was growing up, because it's served me well.
In our home, we "make amends" when someone has done something to hurt someone else. This reinforces the idea of taking responsibility for our wrong actions, and attempting to restore the relationship with the hurt party.
Why am I blogging about this today?
Today, I was feeling grumpy and overwhelmed by the clutter I was trying to clean, I had finally gotten the baby asleep, and was looking forward to having only one little person to take care of while I caught up on some laundry.
Just as I tossed several pairs of jeans into the washer, I turned around to see Mirth thrusting her doll "Baby Boy" into Lark's peaceful face. ALL I could think of is how hard it was going to be to get my baby back to sleep, and how my two year old had been told over and over not to interrupt her sister's sleep. I rushed over, grabbed the doll from M's hands and slung it to the floor, all the while growling sternly about how Essie was not to touch her sleeping sister.
Big tears welled up in Mirth's eyes, as she started her own upset chatter: "No throw my baby on the floor! No throw Boy! Mirth show Boy to Larkie, mommy no throw my baby down!!" She ran and grabbed Boy protectively, clutched him tightly and ran from the room.
That heavy "I've blown it" feeling settled on my chest. I tried to figure out what had caused that reaction (besides my angry tone. :-( )
Mirth had been showing her doll to her sister. She wanted to share with her, and was offering her most treasured possession. Assuming the best about Essie's intent was a start, and so I found her and dropped down to her eye level.
"Mommy's very sorry. I sounded angry with you, and I yanked your toy away hard. I was worried Lark would wake up too soon. Will you forgive me?" No response. I tried again. Still I was getting a funny vibe. Then I realized the look on her face was, "you're apologizing to the wrong person." My own voice muttering in my head "I can't believe what I'm about to do", and refraining from rolling my eyes or giggling...I picked up Baby Boy.
"Baby Boy, I'm sorry I yanked you away and tossed you on the floor. *Big kiss right on his plastic air brushed head* I like you a lot, and I'm sorry I hurt you." HUGE smile from Mirth. She stopped crying crocodile tears. Amazing.
In her head, Baby Boy is very real, and she's his mommy. She loves to carry him around in a sling and pretend to nurse him while I'm taking care of N'omi. She's emulating her Mommy. As upset as it makes me feel when she experiments with pulling her sister's hair and seeing her cry, it upsets Essie when she sees someone mistreating her "baby".
And that makes me feel good. She's learning compassion and kindness, even as she jumps on, pokes, and chews on Baby Boy. And maybe someday, when she's grown up and has her own toddler, she'll remember that her mom wasn't too proud to admit when she was wrong.
And maybe she'll find the courage to do the same.