Saying Sorry

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.
“What happened?”
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.
“Nope!”
“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.”

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