Post-It Notes To My School Boy: Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

I'm not proud of myself today. It's one of those days when you feel like you've done a horrible job at parenting -- yes, those days when you start to question your capacity at mentoring, guiding and nurturing little souls. You ask yourself why parenting didn't come with a lifetime supply of patience -- like, maybe a well that never runs dry -- one that you can run to when you're about to run on empty.

I was preparing Io in advance this morning for his Mathematics seat work and was discussing how to derive equivalent fractions through graphical representation and numerical manipulation. It sounds complex when I say it, but it's really easy --I don't even know why it's still in a Grade 4 curriculum -- I've taught him this in 2nd Grade and was confident that he'll breeze through it, like he usually does.

Alas, I was about to be disappointed -- and terribly frustrated. After giving him a thorough explanation complete with my usual over-the-top gestures and verbal emphasis, he went out carrying his book and illustration board, telling me he'd do it outside so he could also get some air. Thirty minutes later, illustration board remains empty, save for some lines I made out as possible doodles.

I was naturally upset. And everyone close to me know that I'm about as incendiary as dry leaves in the hot summer sun. All it takes is a little magnifying glass to turn me ablaze. And nothing upsets me more than deliberate disobedience coupled with blatant evasion. Simply put: if I teach you something I know you're completely capable of understanding but you choose to listen passively for whatever reason and eventually forget it and decide not to do it (disobey) to mask ineptitude, I'd be very upset. I'm the sort of person who would be willing to run through a topic ad infinitum until the other person gets it. But once you tell me you've got it -- you better, or else...

"Are you telling me you wasted half an hour of precious day time doodling instead of answering pages 208-209 of your Mathematics book? And didn't I tell you to grab your scratch papers and write your answers there? Why in heaven's name are you using that cardboard instead? You have red colored chalk all over! You've been obviously erasing that red chalk using your forearms! Who taught you to do that? Why do you think erasers were invented? And why do you think we have 2 of them at home? Are you tired of school? Bored with it? Or worse, 'burdened' by it? Maybe you shouldn't go to school today. Or maybe, you should stop going to school altogether because it's such a drag! Maybe walking around barefoot, begging for alms or salvaging trash for pennies sounds more exciting! Maybe you've had it too easy all this time that you can't appreciate what a glorious blessing and opportunity schooling is!"

Obviously, I wasn't asking real questions, just rhetoric. Every word was uttered to appeal to his guilt in hopes that they'll eventually knock some sense into him -- an 8 year old boy -- to magically come to a realization even some adults barely experience in a lifetime.

I was asking too much from someone very little. I was putting words in his mouth, judging him by his apparent nonchalance as he scribbles on his illustration board. I forgot that I'm talking to a little soul. Smart and capable as he is of understanding words and reading between the lines, even of sarcasm -- that ain't no way to treat a little boy -- a boy whose heart's sole desire is to please his parents -- but whose 'little boy' problems are getting in the way of fulfilling that desire.

I'd like to tell you that I immediately apologized to him for saying hurtful things but I didn't get the chance. We were too pressed for time since he needs to leave for school in 30 minutes.

Now, all I have is this Post-It note to tell him that I too needed some kind of realization. We were never meant to be perfect. Young and old, parents and children alike make mistakes not because we choose to but because we are bound to make them. And that what's important is not to be distracted by the mundane and mistake perfect scores for learning or perfect behavior for character. And that, unlike Bruce Wayne, we are defined by who we really are inside, not by what we do for the moment -- that our feelings, words -- even our decisions are but fleeting glimpses of our being but in no way does it represent our whole self. We will always be influenced by people and circumstances in how we act, think or speak at a certain time.

And it's okay because that's what makes us human, it's what gives us the opportunity to look at things in hindsight and learn from our missteps. And that as long as we never lose sight of our goals and righteous desires of our hearts, God's love and forgiveness will be a bright beacon that will always lead us home.

Tomorrow gives us another chance to say sorry but why put off for tomorrow what you can do today -- or an hour earlier. It may well be the hardest word, but it's definitely not impossible.

Is there a person you know in your heart you need to say sorry to? Say sorry today -- and mean it -- for once, for always. One of these days, you just might find yourself on the receiving end.

Hugs and warm wishes everyone!

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