Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sincere Apologies

It happened.  It took a few weeks, but the inevitable has happened. 

Cael got a time-out at preschool.

I went to pick him up from school last week, and as the children filed out according to whose parent/guardian was there to retrieve them, I noticed that Cael was not being called even though I'd been noticed by the teacher.  When there were no other children to be released, Cael was summoned and I was informed that there had been an "incident".

I'm SO proud.

"Cael had to have a time-out today."

This is where I probably should have said something like, "Oh, I'm sorry!" or "Oh, no.  What happened?" but my sarcastic and cynical side just may have taken the conversation another way.

"Haha, great.  What was it this time?"

Probably not the best way to start our parent/teacher relationship.  And while I'm sure I pinned myself right then and there as "that mom", we moved on to the nature of the infraction.

"Cael was knocking down towers." 

I was waiting for more.  Cael was knocking down towers AND... broke a window?  Cael was knocking down towers AND... punted a piece across the room and into a friend's tooth?  Cael was knocking down blocks AND... passed gas loudly and said, "Did you hear THAT"?

"Okay."  I said, trying to think of a diplomatic way of saying, "If that's the worst thing he did today, you best be jumping for joy!" until she laid out the rest of the story.

"Well, Cael was knocking down towers.  But I had to give him a time-out because he thought it made it better by saying 'I'm sorry'."

Wait a second.  Isn't that what "I'm sorry" is for?  Making things better after you've made a mistake?  Sure, there are times when an apology doesn't come close to righting a wrong like grand theft auto or arson, but since when is block-busting a federal offense?

I thanked the teacher for letting me know, and assured her that I would talk to him at home, but for the entire ride home I was confused and thought that a time-out in reaction to an apology was seriously out of line.  I thought about it as we had lunch and I thought about it as I let the kids play for a few minutes before naptime while I washed the dishes.

"Ahhhhhhhh!" I heard Graham wailing from behind the sofa. 

"I'm sorry!" Cael shouted in a playful, upbeat tone.

As Graham recovered from what appeared to be a faulty vault attempt over the couch by his highly motivating coach, Cael announced that he needed to go potty and headed off the in direction of the bathroom.  I heard the door latch and immediately there was a loud thud followed by a tiny, muffled cry.  I walked over to the couch where Graham had been but he was not there.  Opening the door of the bathroom, I saw Cael perched on his crown and Graham curled into a quivering ball on the bathmat.

"What happened here?"

"I needed to move Graham because he was in the bathroom and I needed to pee."

"What did you do to him?"

"I pushed him into the tub."

"Why would you do that!?" I said, scooping up Graham.

"I don't know.  But I'm sorry!"

"You know, Cael, saying you're sorry is a good thing to do when you've made a mistake, but it's not an excuse to be mean."

"Okay.  I'm sorry, Mommy!"

It was becoming clear to me that Cael has a case of "I'm-sorry-will-get-me-out-of-murder", and his preschool teacher saw it coming down the pike much earlier than I did. 

So in the future, when one of my son's fine educators gives me a heads up to one of Cael's undesirable behaviors, I'm going to do my best to take it to heart.  But until then...

I'm sorry.  Like, for real.


  1. Love it! We have been working on this one for a while now. Saying your sorry is important, but bad behavior still has consequences.

  2. Heidi- It is a tough one for them to learn, and trying to teach them to be sincere or to apologize for an accident is torture! Good luck to both of us!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.