“Well then you’d better go and play on your computer.”
Those are words any twelve-turning-thirteen-year-old would love to hear. Right?
Goldilocks is the epitome of an empath. She could feel the anger and sarcasm hiding behind the words she’d been hoping to hear. She dutifully went – and played – but her eyes betrayed her pain.
The thing is – I wasn’t even angry with her. It’s true that I don’t often ask for help with meal prep. And I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with a twelve-almost-thirteen-year-old knowing the basics of how to prepare meals. But I also know how sensitive her sense of smell is, and I admire the strength of character with which she can say, “No, I don’t prefer to do that.”
And the way I’d asked certainly wasn’t an instruction. “How do you feel about trying your hand at chopping some onions?” Yep. Definitely a lot of wiggle room there.
I was just frustrated by the day I was having. And I used – no, abused – my power over my innocent, sensitive, precious girl to unload some of that frustration.
I had two choices. I could act as if nothing had happened. Or I could apologise.
With two small words, I could fix two big things. I could acknowledge what I’d done, admit that it was wrong, and ask for forgiveness. And I could also validate her emotions. With that “sorry”, I could say, “You didn’t imagine it. What you sensed was real, even though what I said was what you wanted to hear. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t right. And your empathy is spot on.”
That little apology – and the big hug that went with it – set everything right.
And to think: my pride could so easily have cost me that magic window into Goldilocks’ soul.