Do you mean it every time you say you are sorry? Sometimes I feel like saying sorry is like saying I love you, a way to stall things for a while,. You know it is what you are supposed to say when you hurt someone, you are aware that is how you are assumed to feel when inflicting pain on another, but sometimes you are just not sorry.
There are endless social conventions that dictate how we treat each other. I am not saying that is a bad thing… I think the angriest I ever get is when I hold the door for someone and they just walk through like they own the place and don’t say “thank you.” I mean… “Hello!!?? It actually is not my job to do hold the door for you. I was being fucking nice you arrogant ungrateful entitled little shit face.” But don’t worry. I don’t say that to their face. I only say that behind their back while kicking them because I am polite.
Even though manners are an important part of how we function in a society, it is also semi restrictive when it comes to dealing with the complexity of our emotional selves. Maybe saying sorry to someone isn’t as relevant as why you did the act in the first place? I am way more concerned with someone’s motives for hurting me than I am if they superficially apologize. Without discussing context, the core issue is never addressed, and the event is more swept under the rug than actually cleaned up.
Pontificating on this issue is all fine and dandy as a functioning adult, because ultimately I know when it is appropriate to sorry even when I am delighted with myself and not sorry at all. But trying to figure out how to teach another human about saying sorry and actually feeling regret (or at least faking it) has proven to be quite challenging.
I know this is going to surprise you, but sometimes The Munch can be a real douche. For example, she and her cousin Calvin were jumping on the couch and having a grand old time, except for the fact that Calvin kept creeping onto The Munch’s cushion. Munch obviously did not like this, but rather then telling him to move, she sat down, raised both her legs in the air, and donkey kicked him off the couch. He did a full front flip and landed on his back.
“Munch, you can’t kick Calvin! You need to say that your are sorry right now! You hurt him! He is crying!”
“I am not sorry!”
“Munch if you don’t say sorry I am brining you up to your room.”
“No! You say sorry!”
I picked her up and brought her up to her room. Now she obviously didn’t want to be in her room, and she wanted to be back jumping on the couch. So she started crying.
“Noooooo! WAAAAHHHHHAAAA. I WANNA GO DOWN STAIRS!”
“No Munch. Not until you think about what you did and are ready to say sorry.”
“I WANNA GO DOWN STAIRS. I WANNA SAY SORRY.”
So I brought her down stairs and she looked at Calvin…
Now this wasn’t’ exactly a snotty “sorry” but it wasn’t exactly sincere either. Pretty obvious it was a sorry to appease me so we could continue living life. Even though I knew this, I didn’t really know where to go from there, so I let her keep playing because she did do what I asked of her.
Then last night I was brushing her teeth, and The Munch wanted to use her gum toothbrush. The way it works is you put your finger inside this plastic thing and then brush way… with your FINGER INSIDE THE THING OKAY? At first she was doing it herself, and kind of chewing on it and screwing around. After a few minutes she asked me to do it. So I naively put my finger in and started brushing. And then this little shit bit down as hard as she could!!!
“OW OW OW OW OW MUCH LET GO!! OWWWWWWWWWW”
For a second I thought I had birthed a rabid pit bull with lockjaw. When she finally released her grip she just kind of stared at me.
“Munch that really hurt. I think you should say sorry.” I looked into her eyes and she looked into mine, and I didn’t know if she was going to cry, or if she was in shock from my yelling. I tried to read her thoughts but they were all muddy and full of Elmo. I then figured maybe it was a total accident and I had just traumatized her by yelling?
“Munch, did you know Mamma’s finger was in the gum brush?”
“Wait…. So was it an accident when you bite me?”
Ooookkaaaay then. I again made her say sorry, and she did, but I also didn’t think she really meant it. I guess even though I can tell her to say sorry, I can’t seem to make her feel sorry.
Then… to top it all off, I told The Munch Calvin was coming over and this was her response…
“I am not going to kick Calvin off the couch today. I am going to kick him off in the morning.”
(This is Munch demonstrating how Calvin flipped onto his back).