Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Personal Note...

...and a request for advice.

Two days before Thanksgiving, while picking Ethan up from preschool, it dawned on me that the family of one his classmates might be alone for the holiday. They only have 1 child, so it would be just the 3 of them. I asked and, sure enough, they had planned for a quiet holiday. I apologized for not thinking of them sooner and asked the mother if they would like to join us. She said she would talk to her husband about it. When I called the next day she said they were going to go ahead with their dinner at home (she had already thawed the turkey) but suggested they come over to visit after dinner. I agreed that that would be great, gave her directions to our house, and we agreed that we would talk the next day after our dinners.

She called me on Thanksgiving just as we were sitting down to dinner. I SHOULD have suggested they come over in an hour but for some reason I said I would call her back when we were finished. Well, dinner came and went; so did dessert, conversation and games. Guests left and Eric and I went to the kitchen to clean up about 8:30. It hit me then: I had completely forgotten to call her back. I called immediately, but what could I really say? I had forgotten them and that is all I could say. I apologized profusely. I could tell from her voice that they were really hurt. I don't blame them one bit for being hurt. Their 4 year old daughter had been looking forward to playing with her friend from school. What could they have told her?

I called her again on Sunday to see if they might want to come over. (That had been discussed before as a possibility.) I was told they were busy. I rather expected that.

Ethan went back to preschool yesterday. I debated whether or not to tell him about the mess I had made but decided not to. I don't think he could process the information correctly and I was afraid he might make the mess worse. When I picked him up from school he said "Ellen booed me today." I immediately told him what I had done and explained that Ellen had her feelings hurt by me. Today when we picked him up Anna asked "Did Ellen boo you again?" and he said "Yes." I suggested that he should tell Ellen that his Mom forgot to call and that we are really, really sorry. I don't think he will do that, although I can never be sure.

Does anyone have any suggestions of something I could do to make up for the mess I've made? I've been thinking and thinking about it but I am pretty much coming up blank. How would I feel if the roles were reversed? Pretty awful, and not in the mood to do anything with the offender. If nothing ever gets fixed I guess it won't be the end of the world - after the year of preschool is done we won't ever have to see Ellen or her family again. But 6 months seems like a long time for a little girl to be reminded of how she and her family were hurt, and a long time for my son to endure being "booed" by the girl who was his best friend in class.


SprinklerBandit said...

Ouch... that's a really tough situation. I wish I had a good suggestion, but I don't. Hang in there.


Mrs. Sinta said...

Well, don't beat yourself to death over this because the truth is that you are a human being. You made a completely unintentional mistake.

It is hard when our kids suffer for our mistakes. However, life is filled with offenses, and the only way to deal with them is to forgive people and move on. Young children can learn this concept.

Look up some Bible verses on forgiveness and reduce them to just 2 or 3 words that you can teach to Ethan. Post them on the fridge or whatever. He will need to learn to forgive. We learn to do it by practicing it. Short Christian story books about forgiveness can help younger children as well. Don't give in to bitterness.

As far as the relationship with this family, I would suggest giving them a gift. The Bible says that a gift in secret pacifies anger. You might pray about giving them an inexpensive, but thoughtful Christmas gift that would touch their hearts, and enclose a card that expresses your regret at the hurt which you caused. (Homemade cookies in a tin?) Also, watch during the year for an opportunity to serve them if you see a need. That can really soften a heart.

In the end, look at it as an opportunity for growth. Someday you will have the opportunity to extend forgiveness to someone who unintentionally hurt you, and you will be a more gracious woman.

I hope that helps!

We all know you are wonderful and thoughtful and kind and would never hurt someone intentionally in that way! Think on that. One mistake does not define your character. Character is defined by who you are, day in and day out.

bristowmom said...

Mrs. Sinta,

Having had very little sleep last night (and that being poor quality) I am particularly suseptible to tears this morning. It only took reading your comment to bring them on. Thank you for solid advice - I will take every bit of it to heart and try to act on it. Thank you.


KC said...

I particularly loved Mrs. Sinta's comment as well. Good advice, especially about offering a gift to say "I'm sorry". I think that is very thoughtful!

Busy moms often get side tracked, especially if you have more than one child. My mind is constantly racing sometimes between grocery lists and who's turn it will be in carpool next, and I have forgotten things like this before too.

So feel comforted, that does happen to others too. Hopefully the other mother will have a soft heart, and forgive too.