Recently, my daughter learned a lesson in not holding grudges – the hard way.
We spend a lot of time with one of her closest friends, visiting various playgrounds and just generally being out and about enjoying all the great activities this area has to offer. The girls have been friends for years – they bonded quickly due to similar family backgrounds – and both are very outgoing and spirited.
Anyone who has spent any time around kids knows that, if you put a couple of strong, independent girls together long enough, there is bound to be trouble once in a while. (I guess that’s true of adult women too!)
That was exactly the case one Sunday afternoon at the park. They were playing with a group of kids they had met at the playground, and it seems like both girls wanted to be in charge. Most of the time, the girls are able to work through things like this and figure out a way to take turns or otherwise make everyone happy. But this particular day, “happy” was not in the cards for anyone.
Some harsh words were exchanged (for nine year olds), and the girls left the park that day angry and not speaking to each other. The other mother and I spoke to our respective daughters, and decided to give them a few days to cool down before getting them together to try to talk it out. Neither girl wanted to budge. And then something unthinkable happened.
My daughter’s friend suddenly got very sick. After multiple visits to Urgent Care, she was sent to the Emergency Room, and ultimately spent several nights in the hospital. (She’s on the mend now, don’t worry!) Children are not allowed to visit the pediatric unit of the hospital, and my little girl was now devastated that she couldn’t see her friend, to whom the last words she had spoken were hurtful and mean. Suddenly, that grudge she had been stubbornly holding was replaced with guilt.
She did make a very nice card for her friend, in which she apologized for her part in the fight and asked for forgiveness. I delivered the card to the hospital, along with some gifts (and food for mom!). We haven’t gotten the girls together yet, as our friend is still recovering (at home now, doing much better), but I am confident they will be the best of friends again soon.
My daughter tells me she will never walk away angry like that again. I know that’s not always possible – even adults “go to bed angry” with each other – but now, maybe she will make more of an effort to not say hurtful things in the first place, or apologize sooner when she slips.
This is one of those lessons that can be so difficult for a single parent to teach children. My kids don’t have the “advantage” of seeing two parents work through their differences in a healthy way. Resolving conflicts is something I talk with them about when it is necessary, but they don’t see me doing it as an example to follow (maybe they should come to work with me and watch me in action there…haha!).
I am sorry my daughter learned this one in such a difficult way, but I am glad she learned it.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly on Wednesday.