The most impressive superpower any person can yield in a fight is three words: I am sorry. If these words are used with sincerity, you will be victorious in battle. A brilliant combo move would be “Forgive me please”. Most opponents will be stripped of all anger and lust for victory when using this secret weapon.
I learned this lesson from my son, over the weekend.
We were having breakfast and my son was behaving abnormally bratty over a specific mobile phone upgrade. His reasoning and unhappiness stemmed from the fact that mom and dad didn’t want to get him the latest and greatest version of whatever brand he was using. (How unfair are we?) Parents need to understand that 12 year olds have to stay “with-it” and “all my friends have it”. The weird thing is that he doesn’t even have all the mobile phone numbers of the people he has on his BBM contact list, but he needs a better phone, one that will put my business smart phone to shame.
“You just don’t understand,” flew around the table numerous times.
I am a patient man. I think. Maybe not. After 15 minutes of bickering, patience left my body in one swooping motion and resided on another planet. It was like a scene from “Ghost” when the people die and the ghost version raises from the body. I still retained enough willpower to control my anger and not say anything, understanding how spectacular it would be for a father to make a scene in a public place. My wife realising that I went into shut down mode, continued the debate. She showed amazing control and angelic patience whilst reasoning with our beloved son, who turned into one of the Kardashian sisters, right in front of our eyes. I was angry.
People weren’t watching; but if they did they might have been concerned with smoke spewing from my nostrils and white knuckles clutching a fork-and knife. Eventually, the parent and son reached agreement. (Never doubted my wife…) This breakthrough was like the sun coming out after forty days of rain. It must have been the exact same feeling Noah had when the dove returned with the olive branch. There was clarity and harmony and serenity. Unfortunately for me, I still felt like Cain, wanting to kill someone. The cloud of anger and disappointment didn’t move one inch.
So now we were strolling through the mall and chatty son was clinging on to grumpy dad. He was hanging on me like we were Siamese twins. He was oblivious to the fact that he did something that infuriated me to the point of levitation. But the wife knew.
When we finally got home, my anger diffused slightly and I was left with a feeling of disappointment and concern. Questions twirling in my mind. Are we doing the right thing for our kids? Are we making the right choices for them? Are we guiding them on the right path to adulthood? Or would they turn out be spoiled adults, throwing tantrums because a waiter brought them sparkling instead of still water.
My wife treaded carefully and decided to poke the scab that was growing over my mood and asked if I felt better. Well to put it bluntly: The Tsunami rolled in. I spilled over about brats, spoiled, other kids doesn’t have anything, when I was his age and so on and so on. She just nodded, listening to my ramblings, not contradicting me once. (Isn’t she amazing?) She just hmmm-ed and aaahh-ed. Under normal circumstances this would be a testosterone injection into our squabbles, but she actually meant everything honestly and even agreed with some of my concerns. I felt better after our talk but now I was just groggy. The cloud didn’t want to dissipate.
An hour later I was getting something from the fridge when my son came charging around the corner jumping in my arms with a bearish hug. I was totally dumfounded.
“Dad, I am really, really sorry for my behaviour this morning. I must have sounded like a spoilt brat.” He blurted out.
The weather in my soul cleared up immediately, the cloud shifted. I lifted him high and everything I was concerned about evaporated like mist. I was proud and astonished.
“Did mom put you up to this”, I tested after putting him down. (and holding my back.)
“No, why? Did you guys talk about it.”
“No, we didn’t”, I lied. Because by him using those three powerful words, he took a big bazooka and blew all my questions and concerns and doubts to smithereens. All that was left was the ruins of love and pride.
“Thanks for the apology son, I appreciate it, and I forgive you.” He smiled turned around and ran back to the TV room, and I was left with a moist eye from the onion I was cutting, obviously.
The war was over.