previously posted on 23Summers
I love my mother but I don’t like her. Well, let me try to clarify that. Its not that I don’t like her. But if she were a regular person that I may know from work or something, she would be just that. I wouldn’t hang out with her or text her and have conversation. She’d just be Joyce: a woman that I work with. Last night we had a conversation (more like a debate) that only proved to me that for every thing we have in common, there are 100 things that we don’t. We’re like wearing timbs in the summer time. It might have been trendy in 1999 but in 2013 it’s forceful and sweaty. I sometimes feel bad because I know she wants to have a good relationship with me. She tries to talk to me and wants to engage with me but I often feel like Kanye and she’s paparazzi. Out of respect for her and to spare her feelings, I didn’t say out loud that I don’t want to talk to her at all most times. But by me trying to spare her feelings, I come off as cold and heartless to her. How do you tell a mother that her misogyny and over protectiveness is why her first born locks herself in her room when she’s home to avoid talking? The fact that she thinks I don’t care about her feelings is a result of me sparing them and I will always look like the bad guy. But I’ll take the L I suppose. We just cannot communicate and we’re both frustrated. The difference is that I’ve basically accepted the fact that I probably won’t have the relationship that other young women do when they can say their mothers are also their best friends. My mother still wants it. I feel like I’m trying to break up with her but she won’t let me.
My 8th grade teacher (who was also my ballet instructor for 7 years and math tutor in high school) served as my replacement for a mom/bff. I always admired how she is with her own children who are around my age and she treats me like one of her own too. I can tell her any and everything. She listens without judgment and still delivers sound advice that a mother would give her daughter. I know it hurts my mother to hear me call my teacher “Mom” and maybe I shouldn’t. But part of me wants to show her that this is how I wish we interacted and I hope she would try and chill a bit. She doesn’t though. She’s always wearing her white wig, black robe and has her gavel in hand when she comments on everything from my clothes, friends, and even my sexuality (she’s not sure if I’m gay or straight because I kiss my friends on the cheek).
My mother is an awesome mother and I would be lying if I said that she was a terrible parent. She sacrifices everyday for my brother and I and does everything she can for us. She cares even if I feel like it’s too much at times. As far as moms go, she’s got that down. I just can’t talk to her. I’m writing letters to my future daughter and I can only hope that when she reads them, I will be a combination of the kind of parent that my mother is and the kind that my “Mom” is. I don’t want my daughter to feel that she can’t talk to me because of how differently we see things. I want to her to feel like I’m listening and trying to understand and I hope she will do the same. I hope she will love and respect me as well as like me. I know very little about parenting but I know what its like to feel like you can’t be yourself in your own home. It sucks.
Summer is here! Aside from being grateful to have survived one of the harshest, bitterest, coldest bitch fits I’ve ever witnessed Mother Nature throw, I’m happy to report that I’m working full time once again and getting tanned while doing so. Yes, I’ve returned to working at the summer camp that I was with last year that is based at the school where I worked during the cooler months of this past school year. A few of my regular kids are still here with a couple of newbies. And, as always, kids will be kids and that means that their shenanigans will provide material for this here blog.
The first week of camp is already over. I did my share of yelling at them when they appeared to have lost their God-given minds. They did their share of making me laugh hysterically during times like when they all started to nae-nae in unison while yelling, “aaaayyyyyeeeee!” with their hands up after hearing the beat to We Dem Boys drop from the radio (I may or may not have joined in). And as expected, they’ve inspired another blog post.
On the first day of camp, a barbecue was thrown to welcome to children to the summer camp program. There were hot dogs and a rented moon bounce. Aside from writing a grand total of 7 incident reports due to kids being kids and hurting themselves, it went smoothly. When I returned to work the next day, the moon bounce was still in the school’s backyard. My kids noticed and spent the day pleading with my co-worker and I. After hours of hearing, “can we go to the bouncy house pleeeeaaasssseeee???????”, my co-worker, Mr. Levon, caved and brought them to the backyard. I’d almost fought a 5th grader a few minutes earlier, so I escaped to a quiet room for my lunch break. Some peace and a few French fries were necessary. But my cool was blown soon after I returned to the children in the backyard.
Not a soul was in the moon bounce they had spent all day begging to play in. Instead, they were sitting and sulking.
“Someone took the sand and threw it everywhere.” Jalen reported with a broom in his hand. “But I didn’t do it.”
I looked to Mr. Levon for answers.
“A few of them decided to open the sandbox meant for the smaller children to play with back here, and threw the brand new sand that was just put in there this morning EVERYWHERE. And when I asked who it was, nobody wanted to confess.”
Of course they were throwing sand. Of course no one wanted to confess. I shook my head and looked at them.
“Well I guess they’ll never go outside again. It’s only day two and you guys are acting like animals. Whatever.”
After listening to the school’s Assistant Director scold them and ban the kids from ever playing in the backyard again, I led my group of kids back to their classroom.
“Ms. Noëlle, so we’re never gonna go in the bouncy house again?” Carrie asked.
“But that’s not fair!” Nassan whined.
“Ms. Alaya doesn’t trust you guys back there anymore. I wouldn’t either. You guys have to prove to her that you can be trusted to play in the yard without destroying things. Maybe you guys should write her apology letters for throwing her brand new sand.”
“But I didn’t do anything!” Kamar whined.
“But you guys are a class and need to take responsibility for one another. No one tried to stop whomever it was. So if you didn’t throw sand, apologize for your class’s behavior.”
And so they wrote and I read 20 apology letters addressed to the school’s Assistant Director. But while reading, I noticed a trend with every letter. The children apologized alright, but their apologies were filled with “even though I didn’t do it” and “it wasn’t me though.” Not a single letter simply said, “I am sorry.” They all filled their letters with excuses, pleas and finger pointing. As I read, I shook my head and thought seriously about making them start their letters over again. Then it hit me. I know adults that apologize just like these children.
Here’s the thing about saying you’re sorry: you just do it. Of course it has to be sincere, but you don’t need many words. Your apology doesn’t require additional explanations. If you’re wrong and apologizing, do that. Eat that shit. Nobody wants to hear, “I’m sorry” followed by some bullshit justification of your shitty behavior. No thanks.
“I’m sorry, but…” does not read as being genuinely apologetic. It comes off as “I’m only going to say that I’m sorry to shut you up because I truly believe that I have no fault here and here is why I’m not wrong.” And if that’s how you feel, why bother apologizing at all? Keep it because I sure as hell don’t want to hear that.
It’s not always easy to admit fault whether you’re a child or an adult. The difference is, however, that as adults, we are supposed to know better and therefore, do better. We’re human and we fuck up. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen a lot. But when you know your fuck up needs to be apologized for, apologize sincerely and skip the reasons and excuses. Trim the fat off of that “I’m sorry.” Be a responsible adult and take responsibility for what you did and that what you did was wrong.
In the end, the children delivered their letters to Ms. Alaya and were forgiven. They got one more day to injure themselves in the bouncy house before it was deflated and packed away (praise God!). And I now have a reminder for why I must only apologize when I mean it. Sometimes you have to take the L. Save your breath. Keep your excuses. Don’t point fingers. Just say, “I’m sorry.”