Thursday, 8 September 2016

Sorry seems to be the hardest word - A ReadItTorial

File this one under the "is it just me?" pigeonhole for an editorial that tackles a fairly prickly subject.

The inspiration for this blog post comes from a couple of sources. One was a pretty horrible anecdote imparted to me by a friend who shall remain nameless but still sits in a cauldron full of hot fuming hatred and obviously can't stop talking about the particular incident that caused them to boil over (rightly so in my grumpy old opinion). He was hit by a kid on a bike while out walking. Both he and the kid fell to the ground, the kid none the worse for wear but him with a fairly nasty and deep cut from where the bike hit him.

He upped and made sure the kid was OK - waiting for something to happen, actually waiting for the kid to apologise.

Does your child say sorry when they hurt others? Do they say sorry to you when they hurt you?

Read on...

For a few silent minutes the pair of them stood staring at each other. The kid, by now, back on his bike but seemingly caught in some mental block of not knowing whether to flee or fight, the adult waiting for that magic word. With not a single word between then the kid eventually shrugged his shoulders in a fairly non-committal way, tutted (to add insult to injury) and cycled off (presumably to look for the next near-OAP to run over while cycling merrily along on the pavement hunting for Pokemon or whatever was filling his stress-free mind.

My friend still seethes and the whole basis of his rant was that as kids, we might have been lippy and mischievous but we would definitely have been brought up to know better than to walk away from hurting someone with nothing but a shrug and a tut.

The other thing that inspired this post was seeing this sort of behaviour fairly regularly as Charlotte has grown up. Kids are always hurting themselves (and each other) unintentionally at school, at play, during activities and during family visits or when cousins come to stay. It's just one of those things that you come to expect as a parent - that get blown out of all proportion in a child's mind when they're telling you the story of what happened (if you weren't there to witness it of course).

Quite often the first thing we'll ask is "Did they say sorry?" or "Did an adult ask them to apologise?" and the answer is nearly always "No" - Obviously if you only have your child's word on what happened, you'll never really know the full story but we know Charlotte well enough to know that if a child had apologised or an adult had intervened and asked them to say sorry, she definitely would have reported that back.

But time and time again it's a "No" which made me reassess what we do. We always make a point of

1) Taking Charlotte to one side and asking her to apologise (if she hasn't already)
2) Talking about things later on, to help her understand why hurting people (physically or otherwise) is wrong
3) Apologising ourselves if parents are around or to the child if not.

The thing is, it almost feels like there's no value placed on an apology any more. People have become so used to always being right even when they're wrong, that it's commonplace to act pretty horribly to other human beings with no recompense or remedial recourse. We do it every day on the internet. We howl abuse at other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, little old folk in our way while we're shopping, animals that bark at us when we surprise them - you name it and you can bet your butt that even the most holier than thou amongst you have been pretty horrible to someone or something over the past week or so without bothering to apologise. Maybe even folk you purport to care about - and I think that's probably where the subject of our story had gone wrong. No one ever paused for a moment to tell him sorry, so why would he say it to anyone else?