“Cinderella’s mean step sisters talk like that.” The truth of her statement was like a punch in the gut.
Sometimes I amaze even myself with the patience and understanding I exhibit when it comes to the habits, distractions, and pace of life of a three year old.
Today was not that day.
I was tired. I was out of coffee (and patience). And I was tired. (Wait, did I already say that? Sorry, I’m tired.)
I asked her to go to the bathroom. She didn’t drop everything that instant and run so I barked out my orders again. She went. As.slowly.as.is.humanly.
I decided to employ the intimidation technique, so I stomped up behind her (hoping it would scare her into running to the safety of the toilet, I suppose.) It backfired. Instead of running she froze.
So I moved onto the “encourage her along” technique by gently holding her shoulders and guiding her in the way she should go. Let’s just say it didn’t go over well.
Using a tone I’m not proud of, I told her to get in that bathroom ASAP. Or else. Or something like that.
She went in and I stood in the kitchen, head whirling. Where had that come from? That was no way to talk to anyone, least of all my precious little girl. I felt awful.
Should I apologize?
I knew I had been selfish. Impatient. And had not spoken kindly.
But should a parent apologize to their kids? Even their three year old?
In the next few seconds my mind made a pros and cons list.
Reasons not to apologize:
- Cuz I’m the mom, that’s why.
- Maybe apologizing will diminish her respect for me, undercut my authority, and make her think she has the upper hand
- Listen to her talking to herself happily in there, she’s already moved on. Why bring it up? Maybe I didn’t act as badly as I felt I did.
But I had. And I would have apologized to any adult had I treated them that way.
So I did.
I got down to eye level and told her that I had been very impatient and had not talked to her kindly. I told her I was very sorry. She forgave me.
A minute later she quietly said, “Cinderella’s mean step sisters talk like that.”
I always thought I was sweet little Cinderella, but today the bossy, bullying step sisters within me had been exposed. And toward my baby girl.
I’m so thankful I chose to apologize. Because the way I treated her was not ok. I don’t want her to think it was ok. I don’t want her to treat other people like that. And if or when she ever does, I want her to know it’s ok to genuinely apologize.
And we lived happily ever after. At least until the next time I run out of coffee…