When sorry seems to be the easiest word*.

sorrynotsorryOne of the joys of toddlerhood, so far, has been hearing Freya learning to talk.

When she comes out with different words, sometimes even a cobbled together sentence, it feels like a reward for all of those months I spent jabbering about anything and everything (intermittently singing the wrong words to nursery rhymes) while she sat there, often with a look on her face that screamed: “Will you fricking shut up for five minutes, woman. I NEED TO THINK.”

However, it has been interesting, or maybe eye-opening is a better way of describing it, in highlighting the way I interact with people – rather like looking in a mirror under really harsh changing room lights.

While I get a little thrill every time she says “please” or “thank you” without any prompting and smother a chuckle when she says frustratedly: “Come ON, daddy” my heart takes a dive when she says “sorry” (sowee) when she’s hasn’t done anything wrong – a lot.

At first I thought it was because I’d made her apologise a few times after she had purposely hurt another child or snatched something they were playing with but I didn’t make a big deal out of it  – at least not to the point where she would be saying it as much as she does.

And then I realised…it’s all me. She must hear me say it on average half a dozen times in a day – even when I’m not sorry.

Take yesterday, as a “treat” I took her into the city on the bus but an older woman was sat in the wheelchair/pram section with her huge wire-framed shopping trolley and only moved when I pointed out, nicely, that I couldn’t leave Freya parked in the walkway. She huffed and she puffed and grumbled to her friend about it even though she only had to move one seat, less than a foot away –  and I stood up the entire way so she could leave her trolley where it was. I must have apologised three times – even though I really didn’t think I was in the wrong. I mean, the alternative would have been for us to get off the bus again. I suppose I could have taken Freya out but I think it’s safer for her to be strapped into her buggy and goodness knows how I would have got her and the heavy folded buggy safely off the bus again. I would have certainly needed someone to hold on to her for me, which isn’t ideal.

I say sorry for things I don’t need to be sorry for all the time; if someone bumps into me, I say sorry. If someone is holding a door and I don’t feel I’m getting there fast enough, I say sorry. If I disagree with what someone’s opinion I say, I’m sorry but… The list goes on.

I know why I do it, I’ve been taught that it is polite and particularly to respect my elders – even when they are wrong – but it has also become just something to say. And I know a lot of, mainly, women have the same “verbal tic” – it even featured in a shampoo advert that went viral.

Now it’s clear that Freya has picked up on it I need to stop – or at least not do it as much. Obviously there are FAR worse things she could be saying but I want her to know she only has to apologise when she has actually done something wrong – and for it to mean something.

Anyway, sorry if this post has offended anyone…oh. This might take some work.

* Sorry if you have that song stuck in your head all day now. Gah! Someone send help.

 

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13 thoughts on “When sorry seems to be the easiest word*.

  1. I’m an offender of this too 😩 I hate it even more when you’re talking to someone and they keep pointing it out too. Adam also says sorry a lot for no reason – I never even thought this could be why.

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  2. Your post won’t offend right thinking people.

    This is the best article I’ve come across recently about women’s and girl’s speech and why it’s so important to empower them – the earlier the better.

    There was also another article that said women should remove “just” from their vocabulary. It’s a qualifier that dilutes the message and puts the speaker in to the role of Oliver begging for attention. I still have to proofread everything I write and check what I say, because it litters my speech.

    You should never feel you need to apologise for wanting to raise a strong daughter. You’re an awesome mum. Freya will grow up knowing her worth and even better, knowing that she can be confident and assertive while being compassionate and considerate. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.

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    1. Thank you for this lovely comment, Rose. I’m going to have to look out for “just” now. I fear I probably say it too. Thanks also for the link to that story. I’ve bookmarked it so I can keep going back to it.

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  3. I am so guilty of this, I didn’t realise that it would impact on any future children though! It’s incredible what little sponges they are! That lady on the bus could possibly do with learning the word though…! xxx

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    1. I’m no expert so many not all children pick up on it but I have no doubt Freya has. She says it all the time and looks really sorry too 😦 Yeah, lady on the bus was not my favourite person yesterday 🙂

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      1. Oh bless, there is something so tragic about a sorry looking child! I am sure she will grow out of it in time – especially now you’re making a conscience effort. The lady on the bus could do with learning from that nice chap on the train!

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  4. It is conquerable! I had a terrible sorry tic through childhood and beyond, but I’m through it. I sometimes think I’ve replaced it with thank you though – which when I analyse my use of it is a sort of “thank you for bothering with me” thing, which is back to the women not feeling worthy of the space they take up. We need to work through it one of us and one word at a time I guess, and posts like this really help.

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    1. That’s great to know, Caz. Yes, I’m sure I shall replace it with thank you – and I already say that a lot too! It’s been very interesting to see how I speak and interact through her eyes. I hope you had a blast at Latitude 🙂

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  5. Sorry is a good word and should be introduced into conversation more by both sexes. People are frightened to use the word these days as for many it is seem as an admission of guilt. In South Africa people say sorry all the time. if you bump into a table, they’re sorry you’ve hurt yourself, if you drop something they say sorry, as in sorry you did that. it’s a way of acknowledging someones misfortune and in a caring way rather than saying whoops or laughing at someones misfortune

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