What’s something everyone does but few do willingly? Say those two simple words: “I’m sorry.”
We all screw up and make mistakes—you know, throwing out thoughtless remarks, making cruel assumptions about someone because of race, gender, or social status, or lying about something when you know damn well you did it. Worse is when we do those things to someone we love. As parents, we know our kids look up to us, yet as adults, we’re so far from perfect, and we all make mistakes.
I’ve done it. There was an incident not long ago where my daughter had to remind me to say I was sorry to my son. And she was right! When I look back on it, being caught up in a moment of craziness with the pandemic, hearing about recent lockdowns and the uncertainty they caused, I overreacted because of Christmas presents. Christmas presents? But it wasn’t about the presents; it was about a moment where I was feeling too much, with the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the school that’s currently causing my daughter some grief—so much so that I wanted to scream, “Stop!”
You know when you’re stuck in that moment of fear, and you snap, but you wish you could take the words back? Well, I’m big enough to admit when I screw up, saying or doing something I shouldn’t. I apologized to my twenty-year-old son, but as he stared at me in confusion, I realized he didn’t have a clue what I was apologizing for, as he hadn’t heard what I’d said. Right, the young male stopped listening after the first word!
But there are bigger things, too. I can think of so many. What hurts the worst is being judged or accused or categorized because of who you are, because of something you didn’t do. For us, this has happened too many times, but the incident I recall now happened at the beginning of December, when our septic backed up in the house. Now, if any of you have experienced that nightmare, you’ll understand what I’m talking about—because it brings “shit” to an entirely unpleasant and too real level.
The plumbing company was called, and accusations started immediately from the plumbers. Because I have teenagers, I was advised they probably shoved things down the toilet and plugged up the system, because that’s what teenagers do. Everyone knows that a septic is different than a city sewer system. In a city sewer system, you dump anything and everything down, but for a septic tank, the term “septic safe” means just that. However, the thing is that my kids are well aware of how to properly use a septic system. I was adamant, but hey, the professionals refused to believe me. So I stood there and swallowed the comments they directed at me, at my kids.
After some digging, it was discovered that only one part of the septic tank had a cover, and the other one, the main one, which has to be emptied, had been ignored for over five years. It was packed full—and no, it wasn’t plugged with things that shouldn’t have been put down there. When we moved here a year and a half ago, I specifically asked if the tank had been emptied, and I was assured it had been taken care of by the local septic guy. It turned out the local septic guy, who charges half price and cuts corners, had emptied the part that didn’t need to be emptied and didn’t bother with the main tank.
I was speechless when an apology never came after all the hurtful remarks. My kids weren’t impressed and were rather annoyed about having been accused of jamming up the system just because they were teenagers. After all, aren’t all teenagers considered thoughtless and careless? Regardless, a call was put in to a registered company, one that was actually licensed and insured, employing skilled workers who understand what they’re doing and don’t cut corners. The tank was completely emptied, and a new cover was put on. But even after all that, with their accusations to my kids, to me, I never heard anyone say, “I’m sorry.”
As I said to my kids, I wonder how many lawsuits could be prevented if people would just say those simple words, “I’m sorry.” Sometimes, all anyone ever wants is for someone to admit that he or she was wrong.
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Tomorrow is Release day for The O’Connell Family Christmas!