Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Honest Mistake

The Monkey came into my room a little before 2:30 a.m.  I don’t remember him opening the door.  By the time I was conscious, he was standing over my bed talking in a rush...

“I had to come and tell you.  I’m so sorry.  I woke up at 2:02 a.m., but I thought it was 6:02 a.m. and I thought my friend was texting me , so I sent him a text to say that I couldn’t get online, but then I realized it was 2:02 a.m. and not 6:02 a.m., and I’m in so much trouble and I’m really, really sorry!”

It took me a minute to process, and by this time he was crying.  I checked the clock (2:27 a.m.) and then replayed the conversation back.  You got the time wrong (yes).  And you sent him a text message (yes!).  Are you sure you actually sent it and didn’t just dream it (yes).  You only sent one, right (yes). 

He was curled up next to me in bed in a little ball, face down in the mattress sobbing.

I was, thankfully, remarkably coherent for that hour of the morning.  I calmed him down with lots of hugs and kisses and told him that everything would be alright.  We decided that he could apologize to his friend at school and I’d send a note to the parents to explain what happened.  We also decided that texting should probably only happen when it’s really daylight outside, no matter what time you think it is. 

The Monkey and I have invented a “mistake script” that helps us when we realize we’ve done something wrong.  It’s a simple three-step process that pretty much covers the bases:  1) Admit that you did something wrong; 2) Apologize, if you’ve hurt someone else; 3) Decide what you’ll do differently next time.  The unspoken fourth rule of the mistake script, and arguably the most difficult part, is then to let it go.  Once you’ve done those things, there’s no reason to hang on to the guilt of that mistake anymore.

We went through the three parts of the script in the middle of the night, and then we went back to bed.

The Monkey’s honesty is a thing of beauty.  He spent twenty long minutes in bed last night agonizing over his mistake before finally getting up to come and tell me.  He’s not even reached his first decade and he’s already realizing that honesty is the better path.  He was still feeling guilty this morning, but those feelings quickly abated as his friend rushed up to greet him at school.

Parenting is difficult and it’s easy to feel like I’m getting it all wrong sometimes.  I’m hyper-aware of every minute I’ve been impatient…every time I’ve snapped when I should have listened…every lesson lost or moment missed.  I worry that I’m not strict enough, not regulated enough, not present enough.  I worry that my own shortcomings as a human being are going to do irreparable damage to this amazing little life I’m trying so hard to nurture.

And then, in a moment of complete honesty, I realize that no matter how many mistakes I feel like I make, maybe everything is going to be ok.

1 comment:

lip said...

I need you around to run me through the script. Usually I just do the agonizing to myself bit (Irish blood). You are amazing on so many levels that amazing little man of yours is quite blessed.