We're trying to teach our kids that "being right" isn't always the most important thing. This morning, I forgot that lesson. I was in the kitchen fixing breakfast for the Boy, and Princess was eating her cereal. We were trying to be funny, all of us saying things that sounded funny and made us laugh (I can't help myself sometimes). My kids have a tendency to drive a joke into the ground, and what started funny was now getting annoying or hurtful. In trying to get them to drop it, I kept getting ignored, and louder and ignored, and ahem louder and ignored. Finally, I slammed the cabinet door - it got their attention, and scared my little girl.
I was right, but I didn't need to scare her like that. The look on her face was fear, then really really sorry that she'd disappointed me, then really really heartbroken that Daddy had slammed the door and scared her. I was "right", and the slammed cabinet door might be justified in getting their attention. But as I explained myself, with tears welling up in her eyes, I had to apologize in the same moment of time. I was hugging her and holding her in thirty seconds, and she still needed to know that dropping the funny thing - see, I don't even remember what it was - was the right thing to do on her part, and their ignoring Daddy was wrong. But I told her I was sorry for scaring her, too - sorry for making her jump and over-reacting on the whole thing.
We smiled, with puffy red still around her eyes she finished eating and brushed her teeth. We drove to school, chatting about how this was going to be a good week and a good day. Her Daddy had broken her heart, and had mended it, too, I hope. She's strong and sensitive, and I've got to remember that she's precious and gracious in all kinds of ways. My son was barely phased, and probably didn't remember anything of the situation. But I want my daughter to know that Dad loves her, and Dad makes mistakes, and still loves her and tries to make things right - while still getting their attention. It's a fine line, isn't it?