Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Learning About Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a tricky concept to teach. I don't like to force my kids to say “I'm sorry” unless they really mean it. I also don't let the forgive-ee brush off the apology with a simple “That's ok.” Because it's NOT okay. Rather, I teach my kids to wait until they really mean it, and then tell the offender, “I forgive you.” Sometimes it comes immediately; sometimes it takes a few days. But when it comes, it's sincere.

A few weeks ago, Luke had the time of his life with a huge bottle of baby powder. I can only imagine that it was calling his name. However, the result of his festivities was a sibling's room that was now covered in a layer of sweet-smelling powder (every single surface was covered!), and a lesson in asking for forgiveness.

I was in the kitchen when I noticed it was quiet in the living room. Too quiet for Luke to be in there! He couldn't have been gone more than a few minutes, but as I walked into the living room, he was walking up the steps from the basement where Victoria's room is. He had an extremely guilty expression on his face, and I immediately noticed that he was covered with a fine layer of powder. He smelled wonderful! Like when he was a newborn! He resembled Pigpen from Charlie Brown, with a fine cloud of powder trailing behind him. However, when I asked him what he'd been doing, and he said “nothing,” I knew I needed to investigate.

When I opened the door to his big sister's bedroom, I was overcome with hysterics! It was like a blizzard in there! I couldn't help myself. I laughed until I had tears rolling down my face. I only wish I could have witnessed the fun time that Luke had in that room by himself with that brand new bottle of baby powder. (He later told me he was playing “Smoke & Fire!” -- as he squeezed the plumes of “smoke” into the air.) I also laughed because I'd been asking Victoria to clean her room for several weeks, and now I was going to get my wish! You see, should would never allow ME to clean it (she's 18....her room is her sanctuary!).

I couldn't let Luke see me laughing about his antics, because I knew that in a few hours Victoria would be home from school, and he would need to learn about asking for forgiveness.

When I went back upstairs to talk with him about what he'd done, he was sitting in the middle of the living room floor with a blanket over his head, hiding. He was so afraid that his big sister was going to be angry and think he was a “bad boy.”

I hugged him and assured him that, yes, Victoria would likely be very upset. But, I explained to him, you can't hide from what you've done. I told him that when Victoria arrived home from school he would need to tell her what he had done, and tell her that he was sorry. Then it would be up to her to forgive him. I warned him that it might take her some time, because he had made a very big mess, but I was sure that she would eventually forgive him, and that no matter what, she would always love him.

As for Luke, well, he thought that telling Victoria he was sorry might work; however, he still stayed under the blanket for most of the afternoon, just in case.

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