That video up there is just so very pathetic and his lisp with the word, sorry, so very cute. My dear, sweet second-born decided not to listen to me while we were in the checkout at the grocery store. He did so knowing the consequences for his actions would be missing out on watching Dora while Liam played the Wii. Rather than keeping his bottom in the shopping cart, he stood up and pulled handfuls of candy from the checkout lane. I was calm and measured when I told him in no uncertain terms that he was therefore missing out on Dora when we got home. He responded by crying so loudly and dramatically it would have appeared that I pinched him or carried through on some other threat of bodily harm. The checkout employee smiled at me sympathetically, other shoppers just avoided eye contact and Liam continued prattling on to anyone and everyone around us about Very. Important. Things.
Jack carried on with his crying and sobbing until we were loaded in the car and halfway home he sadly squeaked out, “I’m sorry for making a bad choice at the store, mommy.” This was without prodding from me and I hadn’t made any comments along the bad choice line, he picked those words all on his own. I reiterated that I forgave him and I was glad that he was sorry, but he still wasn’t going to get to watch Dora. Cue: more dramatic sobbing.
Once we got home and the groceries were unloaded, I gave the boys a snack (monkey drinks, as they call them) and Jack repeated his apology. So I had him say it one more time for the camera (which you see above). He seems perfectly remorseful and properly sad about what has taken place, right? But what if I told you that seconds before this apology replay, he was laughing wildly with his brother while they made raspberries at each other. Would you think he was truly sorry then? Yup, me neither. And despite his utter cuteness, he did not get to watch Dora that evening. He was very sad, I was very righteous.
Truly sorry will come when he doesn’t display behavior he knows he’s not allowed to do. But it may not come the next time this happens and the same consequences are doled out again (or maybe the time or two after that). Kids will never learn right from wrong if they get what they want for simply apologizing (no matter how pathetic and cute they are doing it). Following through on threats is a skill I’ve had to beef up as my kids get older. Because it would be so nice to avoid the tantrums in the store and the endless crocodile tears that flow when something is lost as a consequence but what’s even nicer is to NOT have the bad behavior happen in the first place and at the end of childhood to end up with two boys who are respectful and don’t act like entitled spoiled brats. Please remind me of this whenever you get a chance because in theory, this is wonderful but in practice, much harder to keep up with. Parenthood, it’s not for the faint of heart.