I’ve come to realise recently that Man and I are expending more energy and time trying to teach the kids values, now that they’re older, and more wayward. But the greater realisation for me was that the teaching has not been a 1-way affair.
I’ve decided to start a new series of blogposts, to document the valuable lessons I’m learning from the kids, and also to remind myself that I still have a long way to go in this journey of life.
The first lesson I learnt in this series came not from my 5yo, as would have been expected, but from my 3yo. This lesson is called Forgiveness.
It has long been observed and confirmed that Megan has an insatiable curiosity that is highly tactile in nature. It has been blueprinted in her DNA somehow, and somewhere. Her first instinct is to touch anything, and everything. Because of this, she has gotten herself into trouble on countless occasions. And I have subconsciously come to expect trouble from her.
We were just back from the library last Saturday, and the Man and Matthew have neatly arranged the library books in the designated ‘library book shelf’, as usual. Everybody then went about settling down back home, but Megan lingered at the book shelf.
As I emerged from the kitchen a few minutes later, I saw her pushing our own books from the other shelf in, instead of their usual position at the front edge of the deep shelf. And she was already onto the third shelf of books.
I flipped and totally lost it. I screamed at her to stop, then briskly strode over. I immediately lifted her ‘naughty’ hand and smacked it real hard. She became angry and pouted. Incensed at her for not knowing what she had done wrong, I smacked her hand twice more. She burst into angry tears, folded her arms across her chest, and stormed to the arm chair, climbed onto it and sat with her back facing me.
Her display of indignation despite her being wrong further fuelled my anger. I started scolding her, what she has done wrong, and why couldn’t she stop touching things for once.
The Man, alerted by the shouting, asked what was happening. I stormed into the room, describing what had happened, and feeling indignant as well that Megan dared to be angry when she was apparently in the wrong. Megan was still sobbing loudly.
The Man, ever the calm and reason in the family, then told me to explain to Megan why she shouldn’t be pushing the books deep into the shelf. He also revealed that he had arranged and pushed the library books deep into the shelf, changing the usual practice of arranging the books at the edge of the shelf.
Bending down to peer into the library book shelf at the bottom, I realised it was indeed true. I was deeply chastened, and horrified at what I had done.
Megan had observed her father and brother pushing the books deep into the shelf, and had decided that all books should be arranged in the same way too. Seeing the other books at the edge of the shelf, she proceeded to push them deep into the shelves, like the library books.
And I, a much, much older grown-up, failed to understand what she was doing. Instead, I lashed out at her, jumping to the conclusion that she was up to mischief again because of her track record.
I went to Megan, still folding her arms across her chest and sobbing, and immediately gave her a hug and said I was sorry. Then I took her hand and led her to the shelves, squating and explaining why she shouldn’t be pushing the books into the shelves, the shelves being dusty, and books being difficult to access and all. Then I apologised again for not knowing her intentions, scolding and smacking her instead.
What she did next had me humbled to my core. She put her arm around my shoulder, patted me, and said “It’s okay, MaMa”. Then she gave me a big hug. And she was back to her smiling, loving self.
That is forgiveness, from the heart. And she has a very big heart for such a little girl…