My Son’s Apology

461 days of loving more, 32 days of loving more year 2

I guess you could say I am kind of a superstitious person. I always avoided cracks when I was a kid, you know, so I didn’t break my mother’s back. And um, okay, I can’t think of any other superstitions that I followed growing up. But now that I am a mom, well, I can list a thousand superstitions. Here are my top four:

1) If the baby is sleeping through the night or even well – you don’t say anything, period. My mother-in-law still doesn’t get this. She calls and always asks, “and how are the kids sleeping?” I literally close my mouth and hum until she gets it and changes the subject. I just don’t want my night’s rest to be jinxed, ya know?

2) If your kids haven’t had the stomach bug or a runny nose for weeks – you don’t say anything, period. My husband didn’t get this until the great Stomach Bug Disaster of February 2012. We were at Friendly’s one night and he so bravely announced: “You know, we are so lucky we haven’t ever had the stomach bug hit our house.” I kid you not, less than ninety minutes later #2 started decorating the cream rug with macaroni and cheese. #1 followed and then #3. And yes, they each passed it back and forth to each other. For two weeks. Eh hem. Like I said, you just don’t talk about not having the stomach bug!

Shhh…don’t say a word!

3) If your kids are playing nicely and you are actually able to sit back and enjoy the moment – you don’t say anything, period. My mother still doesn’t get this. Okay, none of our family gets this. Simply stated, with four boys six and a half an under, if there is ever a moment like this it is beyond impossible, no, it is impossible to not jump for joy and do a boogey dance. And without fail, the boogey dance generally inspires one son to join in and then in the process he elbows his brother in the face and he starts yelling and then his brother follows suit and the last one starts crying because it is too loud. Like I said, you just don’t say anything if there is peace, you just enjoy it. Silently. To yourself. As long as the minute lasts (okay, or two minutes!)

4) If bedtime is going smoothly – you don’t say anything, period. I forgot this one tonight. Big time. Bedtime was going so smoothly for a Monday night that I couldn’t resist but think to myself “You are rocking it Orange Rhino.” Um, mistake! Tonight’s bedtime story totally made me think that superstitions’ are indeed real. (Yes, I know that they kind of aren’t real and that crazy bedtimes can just happen, but still….) Anywho, I can say one thing that I do know for certain to be real: not yelling can lead to great moments.

Putting four kids to bed by myself is always a challenge. Pre-Orange Rhino days, I used to come out of bedtime with sweaty palms and a heart wiped from racing, sometimes from loving but more often than not, from yelling. I used to rush, rush, rush bedtimes and it made it so miserable for all involved. I used to yell “Brush your teeth! Get dressed! Hurry up!” all too frequently and it truly made bedtime go longer. Tonight though, as I chased my naked 21 month old down the hall to coral him back towards the bath, and then reached out with my free arm to swoop up my 3 ½ year old trying to escape, I smiled and thought to myself ever so smugly, “You know, I feel flustered but I am staying calm. I am not yelling. I got this bedtime in the bag. You know tonight, I will post ‘How I Survive Bedtime’ because right now I am encapsulating that post.”

Carrying this thought in my mind and a wiggly child under each arm, I proudly went to the bath. #2 got in without being asked. Score. #3 got in without being asked. Double score. #4 got in without much fight. Triple score. Bedtime continued like this for the next 10 minutes. Teeth brushed, pajamas on, books read, no problem. Then I went to tuck #2 into his own bed.

As I tucked him in, he started getting all fresh telling me to “go away” and “get out of my room now” to “be quiet.” You know, now that he is 4 and 350 days or so apparently, fresh is the new way to talk. Ugh. I tucked him tightly, told him that was no way to talk to his mother or anyone, that it was rude and hurtful and that I would indeed leave. He did politely reply,

“I didn’t hear the words come out. I didn’t know it was rude. I couldn’t help it.”

He pulled the sheets over his head as I calmly walked out. As I started to shut the door I heard, “now I am all embarrassed.”

I calmly and lovingly replied,

“Well, now you know those words aren’t acceptable. Do not talk to me that way again please. I love you, good night.”

I walked out and went to tuck #3 and #4 in. I had JUST settled both to sleep when I heard #2 start shrieking at the top of his lungs, which is a definite no-no once lights are out. Lights out means quiet. Period. Clearly not tonight. Harumph.


#4 started crying, #3 started whimpering “It’s not fair that he is still awake!”

Meanwhile, I started thinking, “It’s not fair that bedtime ain’t over yet!”

I headed towards #2’s room, my feet hitting the floor a little, okay, a lot more heavy than I wanted them to. My hand grabbed the doorknob rather aggressively and my racing heart made it blatantly clear to me that a yell was desperate to come out. And then this little voice stopped me:

“Mommy?” the little voice squeaked, “Mommy, is that you?”

The softness soothed my heart and reminded me to quiet my growing yell. It reminded me that yelling had no place at this moment. That it wouldn’t accomplish anything. That it would just get the other boys all riled up.

I slowly opened the door, my heart still racing a little, but not nearly as much. Before I could even start in with my bedtime lecture about lights out, #2 said,

“Mommy, I’m sorry I yelled for you. I just really need to tell you something. I’m sorry I told you to get out. I didn’t know it was rude. I’m sorry.”

It was the most sincere, sweet, and loving apology, an apology that I most certainly would not have heard if I had barged in yelling. My son’s apology made me feel that I am indeed doing something right as a mom. My son’s apology made for the most perfect ending to tonight’s bedtime. My son’s apology made me realize again that great moments happen when I don’t yell. 

If you liked this post, here is a direct link to another bedtime story that had a great ending as a result of The Orange Rhino Challenge:  “Is Yelling Really Worth It?”
And here is the link to “How I ‘Survive’ Bedtime”


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7 thoughts on “My Son’s Apology

  1. To Screaming Mummy: Try not to feel too badly. I once escrorted my 6 year old across the yard to the bus stop in his stocking feet because he would not put on his shoes…oh yea, there was about 4 inches of snow on the ground. I thought “natural consequences” (but I warned him that would happen and I did pack dry socks in his back pack.) I felt horrible, but have been working on not yelling us out the door in the mornings. Sigh

  2. thank you for sharing this story. i am bawling as i read it, because i am still at the “screaming mummy” stage…… i so want to be the calm mummy, but this horrible woman that i am at the moment won’t get out of my house……….. this morning my 8 year old daughter has her 2nd day of 3 days of tests at school. i so wanted the morning to run smoothly like yesterday. but instead, both Miss 8 and Mr 5 went as slowly as they could, giggling instead of eating, complaining how cold it is instead of getting dressed. generally mucking around. i just lost it. they left the house on time, but we were all cranky. now i am beating myself up about it, because she has to be calm and focussed at school, especially today and tomorrow. i hate the mother i have become, i hate yelling all the time, it achieves nothing. i hate that i feel completely powerless to make them actually DO anything. nothing seems to motivate them (i have introduced chore charts where they get 10 cents per chore, but they don’t seem to care less if they get money or not). how do you actually make children get up and get ready for school on time?

  3. We have two kiddos to put to bed. I cant even imagine 4. Kuddos to you. But it is a source of daily stress….you never know when bedtime will go well and as scheduled or when you will all be up till ten pm snapping at your spouse! Whew!

    I also abide by the “don’t say anything, period.” My MIL does the SAME thing……JEEZ! But she just loves us and thats why she asks!

  4. “great moments happen when I don’t yell”….. Ahhh, THAT is going to be posted on my wall. Thank you, really. I have been trying not to yell for quite some time. More seriously lately. I resonate with you in so many ways… I wonder why I yell!? It doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is just working on not yelling. Your quote above is a mantra I can say over and over when I feel my temperature rising. Thank you. I appreciate your candidness about the realities of mommyhood. Bless you.

  5. I’ve had lots of great moments when I haven’t yelled and something special happened. BUT this is not about that…Just wanted to share this story: The VERY DAY I was telling someone that we hadn’t had any broken bones in our house, my then 5 yr old jumped off the top of his bother’s crib to the bed next to it, missed the bed and broke his elbow apart so much it needed surgery to put pins in to get it back together. (You have boys, you know you there isn’t a reason WHY he was jumping off the crib…) Also, 6 months later, he fell of the jungle gym and broke his collar bone. I’m keeping my mouth shut! 🙂

  6. That just made me smile 🙂 I also put 4 kids to bed. Yes mine are a
    Iittle older but my 3 ye old can be a challenge. I use to rush bed time and them realized it should be relaxing. I now encourage my 3 sons to look at books while I put the 3 yr old to bed. And you know what…I haven’t yelled since 🙂

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