Recently, my oldest child did something that shocked and moved me. I had walked into the living room and found something out of place that my kids had no permission to touch. Alex (nearly 7) was standing there when I discovered the misdeed. I got disproportionately angry, probably because of a lot of recent failures to listen to and follow instructions, and I gave him a hard “Gibbs slap“. Alex then informed me that he was innocent, and that Joel was the perpetrator.
I suddenly felt incredibly guilty. A contributor to, and consequence of, my anxiety and depression is my poorly-controlled temper, which I’ve struggled with for too long. Alex didn’t deserve that smack, and even if he had been the troublemaker, my reaction would still have been excessive. I anxiously awaited a good opportunity for a proper apology.
A short time later I found my opportunity, while we were both upstairs. I called him into my room, and I began to apologize the way I’ve taught him and his siblings. At the end, I asked, “Will you forgive me?”.
That’s when it happened.
He cocked his head to the side, pulling it away from me slightly, and knit his eyebrows in amused incredulity.
“Of course! Why wouldn’t I forgive my daddy?”, he said, chuckling.
And I suddenly wanted to cry, overcome by shock at hearing that coming from my most difficult and least empathetic child, and because I felt so undeserving of that kind of unconditional forgiveness.