#SorryNotSorry: Teaching Your Child Empathy

Kids today. With their emojis, text messaging, and hashtags. If I can't keep up now, how will it be when my daughter's a teenager? I was never cool and always old, which is what I believe the kids call "the whole package." Where others rub some funk on it, I rub some Julie Andrews on it. Still, I must make an effort to learn. #hero
 
Ready to learn along with me? Then let's floss and fly.

"Let's floss and fly this mofo."
---Tom to Maggie Tulliver in
George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss
#littleknownfact

My four-year-old---aka, my boo, my bae, my shawty---is already cooler than I am, as evidenced by the desperate slang-slinging of the preceding clause. And that's fine, I mean,chill, but I need her to take me somewhat seriously while she's young so I can teach her good manners. I don't want my daughter to be---in the immortal words of Rudy from Fat Albert---like school in summer, i.e., lacking in class. #KickinItOldSchool

WWJAD (What Would Julie Andrews Do?)
As always, Julie Andrews is my guide. Whether I'm channeling singing super nanny Mary Poppins or singing super governess Maria von Trapp, I strive to be a Model of Good Behavior (MGB). Only without the singing. #offkey #stopsingingmommy
 
We started early, presenting the holy trinity of civility---please, thank you, and sorry---before my daughter could even speak. We exposed her to sign language via the Baby Signing Time videos led by walking primary color Rachel Coleman.

A-S-L. American Sign Language to those over thirty.
Age, Sex, Location to the young and happening.

To the accompaniment of excruciatingly catchy tunes, my daughter learned that if she made a fist, and after punching Mommy with it, rubbed it in a circle over her chest to show "sorry," Mommy would stop making the angry face and perhaps give her juice.
 
Bat-Hearing.com (and a #Parentfail)
When my child began to speak, we emphasized verbalization of the trinity. She learned to say "Sorry," but she also tacks on an, "I forgive you," conflating asking for forgiveness with dispensing of same. So her actually "meaning it" may take longer. I may not be the best MGB in this regard. Encounters with the ice cream truck reveal Mommy's insincerity. 
 
Either my daughter's hearing is preternatural or I'm losing my own---perhaps due to age, perhaps due to the repeated battering my eardrums endure from the screams of a certain preschooler---but she always hears the ice cream truck before I do.
 
BTW, you know you're old when the Mister Softee song brings sorrow instead of joy. Like Pavlov's dog, my daughter hears the music and salivates. I hear it and panic. Dear one informs me of the truck's approach and I say, "Sorry, honey, we can't have ice cream before dinner." (Or after dinner, for that matter, but let's cross one bridge built over a river of lies at a time.)
 
Am I insincere with my "sorry"?
 
Am I faking regret over refusing her sugar before bedtime?
 
Are haters gonna hate?
 
#Sorrynotsorry
She's starting to "get it." Not the feeling remorse part. But when others don't feel it. Sometimes, when she's in the bath, I sneak away to catch up on e-mail or read my book to the end of a chapter. When she calls me, I keep saying, "Be right there," until sooner or later she calls me on it and I say, "Sorry, honey." The other night she said, "You're not sorry, Mommy." I had to laugh. Mommy was pwned! I only felt slightly ashamed, and may or may not have finished my chapter.

Oh no he didn't. (He did.)
 
So my child is a keen observer of human nature. However, empathy for her subjects may take longer. For instance, at the park, where my presence is required on all the playground equipment, she'll hover behind another kid at the top of a slide, and if he's taking too long to go down, she'll turn to me, and with wide-eyed innocence, say: "Can you push him?" #DoMyDirtyWorkMinion. What's sign language for "Screw this kid, it's my turn"? Though I guess you can't really sign that if your hands are busy shoving an unsuspecting toddler.

WWJD
Such delinquency may be beyond Julie Andrews. Perhaps I'll need to go oldest old school with What Would Jesus Do? Something Christian, I suspect. Apologizing and meaning it. Playing well with others. I'd stop short of turning the other cheek. Those playgrounds are rough and I want her to stay frosty. Besides, someday she may have to ride the subway like her mom, and let me tell you, turning the other cheek will burn you out pretty quick in New York.
 
Jesus may have been tempted for forty days and nights in the desert but he didn't have to ride the R train at rush hour. Let's imagine the son of god standing on the platform, the crowd getting antsy. Somebody says, It'd take a miracle for this train to come. And as everyone served up J.H.C. a heaping dose of stink-eye, he'd look away, whistling the theme song to Highway to Heaven (You don't have to believe in God to know Michael Landon's his favorite. #truth #drop some knowledge).

The Fonz explains the finer points of
"sitting on it" to Potsie and the gang.

IDK
This is shorthand text messaging for I Don't Know. You can also make it a hashtag. This is good since my ignorance is the only thing I have that works across all platforms. As my daughter gets older, I also imagine that this is the acronym I'll find the most handy.
 
In conclusion, #winning and #blessed. GTG. TTFN.

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