Friday, March 2, 2012

Hurt Feelings and Forgiveness

I wrote this about a year ago. It's so wild how quickly kids pick up your sayings.  (And people tell me I'm too sensitive!)  ~ Leah

My 17-month-old was already buckled in his car seat. I’d grabbed my two-year-old who was more interested in seeing any hint of desperation on my face as he ran from me in the record-high summer heat.  I swooped him up and tickled him all the way to his car seat, imagining this as the best distraction to get him buckled in.  I sat him down and in the midst of the laughter; I was secretly delighted with my lighthearted manipulation.  Then abruptly, like Jekyll to Hyde, his little hand struck me with a force I didn’t know he had; he’d smacked me right in the middle of my face.

I looked at him with confusion as I could see him trying to process the severity of his actions.  With a questioning half-smile, he searched my face, an expression I’m sure he’d never seen on me before.  We were just laughing and having fun. What had possessed this little man to just throw out a whack like that?  And in my face!  I was hurt…and confused.

I firmly explained to him that we do not hit.  No matter what!  I think I said it three times, actually, just to be clear.  I went around shutting the door next to my youngest son.

“And furthermore,” I ranted as I returned to his side. “I think what you did was really mean and you really hurt my feelings.  Really!”  I slammed his door.

I think that was the first time I ever used the phrase “hurt feelings” with him.  He got quiet.   I was still reeling, and a few minutes later, as I drove down the interstate, I looked at him in the rearview mirror and saw a sweet little boy fast asleep, his head bobbing down on his shoulder, the way only a child could be comfy.  We arrived at the farmer’s market and he woke up with a charming smile.  As I strapped him into his side of the double stroller, he looked at me pointedly and said, “I love you, Mama.”

Forgiveness has never come so easy.

An hour or so later, tired from the fun in the sun, I told him he couldn’t ride the mechanical dragon at the grocery store because he hadn’t been listening when I told him to sit in the cart.  He dissolved into tears, and then desperately shouted, “Mama, you’re hurting my feelings!”