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Sorry sorry sorry

October 10, 2013

Hope did something this week that made me gasp outloud… normally it would be for sheer joy or delight at her achievement, or because I feel totally overwhelmed by how much I care for her… but this wasn’t like that at all … I gasped outloud because I was horrified by something she did.

It wasn’t when she tipped all the cat treats out on her Godmother’s white carpet and stuck her chin out in a ‘so what are you going to do about it mother’ kind of a way. It wasn’t when she coloured in the top of her plastic dinner tray, I actually quite enjoyed that. It wasn’t when her nappy exploded and the contents went all the way up her back and down her thighs and all over me though that was rather trying, but I blame Pampers for that. It wasn’t even when she woke me for the millionth time in the night the other day to tell me how much she likes horses although I still feel sleep deprived because of it.

No … yesterday Hope did something deliberately.

We’d gone back to the petting zoo she’d so enjoyed earlier in the month so she could ride on a horse again. Before the horse ride we went into the guinea pig pen. She loved playing with the high speed furry fellows. Last time the zoo keeper commented on her gentleness, this time, her confidence had grown and she kept trying to pick them up. One poor guinea pig was held up like a small rag doll for a few seconds before it managed to squirm its way from her grip, others were able to scamper off under the benches. She kept uttering sounds of glee and delight when they took the proffered bits of carrot or lettuce, and I sat back, relaxed and happy and also slightly smug if the truth be told as other children hurtled past, traumatising the guinea pigs, my daughter was the gentle one, the pretty one with her hair up in a tuft on top, stroking the creatures as their bits of broccoli.

Then the unthinkable happened. She had been pottering after them, trying to feed them and trying to pick them up … they had all outwitted her, but one in particular had refused all offers of carrot and even turned its nose up at a bit of apple. Hope saw it, walked up to it and I saw her lift her foot, “Hope”, I called warningly, thinking she might tread on it by accident. No, she looked at me, lifted her foot again and kicked it. The poor rodent rushed away, thankfully it had already started scampering before the full force of her purple shoed foot made contact. I gasped outloud, “HOPE NO”, and picked her up immediately, blushing furiously, hoping nobody had seen what had happened, hoping the guinea pig was ok. “No, Hope, no, you don’t kick animals, you might hurt them. That wasn’t kind. You have to be gentle with animals”, her initial look of shock turned to one of defiance and she looked away. “Hope look at me, that was very very naughty”, and with that I just stood there feeling a little unsure what to do next. I took the remaining bits of carrot and broccoli from her and put them in the little food box and shoved it out of the way, then, and I’m really not quite sure where it came from, I said, “you say sorry, that was naughty”.

I’m not quite sure who I was intending her to say sorry to. The other children in the pen, their parents, me, the zookeeper … but then it came to me. “You say sorry to the guinea pig, you kiss it better and say sorry right now”,

Hope slipped down onto the floor and looked at the guinea pig who had come back to see what all the fuss was about and to see if he could pick up some of the discarded carrot. She bent right down to it, kissed it, and before it could recover from the surprise or finish the carrot, she said, “Sorry piggy pig. Sorry sorry sorry” and then she appologised to several of its friends and turned round, pulled herself up and put her arms up around my shoulders. “Mummi sorry … ” she then sat quietly for a few seconds before looking back up and saying very sweetly, “Horsey?”

I made her wait another half an hour before she went on the longed for horse ride which annoyed her intently, but she did say sorry again every time we passed the guinea pig enclosure. When she did finally get her horse ride, she did so well that instead of going on one horse for one lap of the little paddock area, she was taken (for free) on each of the three horses for two laps each. One of the horses was a stallion taller than I was. She sat there like the Queen of Sheba or Princess Anne, every inch the blue blooded royal, and every inch the horse woman.

She kissed each horse her ride was over and she kissed me. “Hope horsey, Hope happy”… we both left happy, but I was shaken by her naughtiness. She has two cats and a dog to play with at her Godmother’s house and she plays well and gently with them, but the kicking incident did serve as a reminder not to be complacent with her around animals; another might not run as fast as the piggy pig had and get really hurt or it might turn on her.

I guess it’s all part and parcel of growing up as a small independent person and I’m sure the terrible twos will herald more gasps out loud and more difficult behaviour, but this will be the action I remember, as well as her response to it. It’s also caused me to think about discipline and my reaction to incidents. I don’t want to be ‘shouting mummy’, I don’t believe you have to shout and punish to encourage good behaviour, but I’m not sure exactly what the best approach is either and I won’t tolerate her doing that kind of thing again to animals, other children, adults, me or inanimate objects, so I need to get my thinking cap on.

Maybe we’ll get a piggy pig when we get home … or maybe we’ll wait another few years as it will be yet more for me to do! What I need to do is find a petting zoo near by that has small critters which other small critters such as Hope can pet (or is it pat?).

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