Settlers Park, Meridian
Sitting there on the cold bench at Settlers Park in Meridian, I found myself the 'seasoned mom' on the playground. Surrounded by women who had just joined the sorority of motherhood a minute ago, bits and pieces of their conversation flickered in and out of earshot. I was working and my daughter was hanging with her bestie. Other peoples' kids were running amuck and screaming their heads off, but my skilled 'mom-ear' had pretty much tuned it out.
Afternoons at the playground had become a rarity since our daughter started competitive gymnastics five years prior. At nine-years-old, our daughter splits her time between school and the gym, leaving little room for pitstops at the park. Proud of how many tasks I knocked out, I had just started to congratulate myself with a snack I swiped from my daughter's backpack when it happened.
From one moment to the next, my 'mom-ear' registered the sound of a truly hurt kiddo. A five or six-year-old girl in a pink jacket had just smacked her head off the thick metal pole of the swing set. Let me tell you, it was the hollow thud heard 'round the world. She hit so hard it echoed!
The reason? She'd just been kicked off the swing by another girl around her age. Rather than jump into one of four unoccupied swings or wait her turn, she pulled a Chuck Norris and roundhouse kicked the girl in the pink jacket. The moms were on the scene in an instant. Choke-sobbing, the girl in the pink jacket already had a goose egg on her forehead. Her mom quickly deduced that ice was all that was needed, while mini Chuck Norris' mom forced a reluctant "sorry" out of them.
Mini Chuck wasn't sorry. And even more annoying than that was the response from the mom of the pink jacket girl. She kept trying to force her daughter to say "it's okay" or "I accept your apology." The hell it is!
This is where I put my two cents in. If pink jacket girl were my kid, I wouldn't force her to accept anyone's apology, let alone a bogus one. Second of all, no, there's nothing "okay" about the goose egg that's doubled in size at this point. Third, forgiveness can be a difficult concept for mature adults to process. How can we expect our kids to fully comprehend it?
Thanks for Apologizing
I'm not suggesting adults or children should hold grudges. I'm saying there's a way to respect the injured/insulted party's feelings while treating the offender graciously whether they deserve it or not. I raised my daughter to embrace the concept that her feelings are valid and her own. No one has the right to distort them. If she's not ready to truly forgive the offender, this is typically her reply to them, "Thanks for apologizing." That's all. It's nothing deep, but it strikes the balance I'm describing.
To my mind, forgiveness is for the injured to process in their own time—it's meant for their healing, not the offender. However, something as simple as "thanks" can teach them grace and how to end a crappy or hurtful situation. But that's just one mom's opinion.
Settlers Park is awesome, and so are more of my favorites below!