A few weeks ago I was helping Cootieboy get to bed when he pinched my arm. I had been tickling him and rather than asking me to stop, he opted to pinch the inside of my upper arm – it was VERY painful. I howled in pain and protest, and he got upset when he thought I was about to leave the room altogether.
“Don’t go!” he said, “I don’t want you to leave!”
“I’m not leaving,” I said, “I got up to turn on the light so I can inspect my arm – that hurt!”
After confirming the appearance of the tell-tale bruise, I turned off the light and got back onto his bed. We talked for a few minutes – a stilted conversation at best, given the fact that he had pinched me moments before. Then we said a quick bedtime prayer together, and I went downstairs.
A few minutes later, from the top of the stairs, I heard a tentative voice call “Mama?”
“Can you come here for a minute?”
I got up and went to the bottom of the stairs, looking up at my son.
“Can you come ALL the way up?” he asked softly.
I climbed the stairs, and when I came even with him he reached out, threw his arms around my neck and whispered, “I’m sorry for pinching you.”
I squeezed him back, kissed him on the cheek. “Cootieboy, that means a lot to me that you apologized – I really, REALLY appreciate it because I know how hard that was for you to do.”
He gave me one more squeeze around the neck, kissed my cheek and said, “I love you,” before turning to go back into his room.
Too often (and yes, I know this is an over-generalization), men don’t apologize. They think it’s unmanly, or a sign of being weak. And for the most part, my son is the same way – he HATES to apologize, even when he knows he’s done something wrong. And so that’s why I was so proud of him for that apology – because it was one of the first times an apology wasn’t offered on demand, or required as a way to dissolve an argument between his sister and him. This time around, it was honest, earnest and heartfelt. And that made it all the more sweet.