The Forgiving Heart of a Child

One of the greatest lessons my children have taught me is forgiveness. Kids have the grand ability to forgive. For instance, yesterday I was vacuuming my living room (it happens from time to time) and my five-year-old son came in. He started saying, “Don’t hit me with the vacuum.” And, “Don’t try and get me, I know you are trying to get me.”
Well, this was kind of cute at first, but after a few times of indulging the game, acting like I was going to vacuum him up, I gave him the message, OK, that’s good, let me vacuum please. But he wasn’t ready to stop our game. Not only did he not stop, he got even more rowdy about his sport. I got rather annoyed and decided to take a breather. I walked away to another room.
When I came back he had taken up the vacuuming for me. This was nice, but really, I wanted to get the whole down stairs done and in my mind he was just hindering my progress. In fact, I started to feel like I was being a bit bullied.
And worse, I could not get him to understand that I was not playing a game anymore, I wanted the vacuum and I wanted it now. So what ensued was a battle for the vacuum cleaner where I became a child myself. I started a tug-of-war and it ended with me smacking his hands off of the vacuum handle. Silly, right? But it turned even uglier. While I was smacking at his hands I told him, “Just GO AWAY! Go, go, go away.”  Then, of course, I felt horrible.
I waited until I finished the vacuuming so I could decide how to handle it. First, I needed to calm the heck down. Second, I needed to decide if I was going to apologize, or if I was going to operate as if the way I had acted is just how parents get when a kid won’t take the message after repeated attempts of trying nicely to give them the message.
I decided I would apologize. I do believe I overreacted. And even if I wasn’t in the wrong, I decided I would let my son know that I am human. I often tell him not to smack at his sister when he is upset with her, but I went and did the same thing to him.
I found him in the dining room with a Lego ship he had built. He was toying with it when I went to him and said, “I think I over reacted to our little vacuum incident and I am sorry.”
He had tears in his eyes and a frown going. He would not look at me. “OK. You just smacked me on the hand. For nothing.”
“It wasn’t nothing to me, at the time. I felt like I wasn’t being heard. I told you I didn’t want to play anymore. I wanted to vacuum, and the way I saw it, you wouldn’t listen,” I said. “But I do feel things went a bit far and for that, I’m sorry. And, if I hurt you when I hit your hand, I’m sorry for that too. Hitting isn’t a good solution to any problem.
Then I said, “Can I give you a hug?”
He turned to me, smiled, and forgave. “Yes!” He had a big hug for me. We were good. Although, he did add, “If you smack me like that again, I’ll call three police cars and send you to Poot Jail.”
Apparently, Poot Jail is, “a place where bad people go to be locked in a cell and a bunch of people poot on them and they are unhappy because it smells so bad.”
I think from now on, I’ll keep my hands to myself. Poot Jail sounds like a place I would rather not visit.  Thank goodness for his forgiving heart.
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