Friday, June 22, 2007

So Sorry

The Boss is the epitome of the apologetic female that women's empowerment advocates would like to squelch.

She grazes my leg with her fast moving form on her way to the television. "Sorry!" The Boss says.

She pushes her doll stroller in its usual circuit around the first floor and bumps a pink plastic wheel into the doorjamb. She is repentant. Her emphatic "Sorry!" is administered with haste to the offended molding.

The dog prances right into her, yet it's The Boss who pipes up with "sorry!"

Animate or inanimate. Affronted or non-plussed. Giver or receiver. The Boss does not discriminate in her desire to restore balance wherever she perceives it to have been set askew.

The thing about raising a toddler is that facts I didn't even know about myself become readily apparent. She must have gotten this "sorry" thing from me. The proof is in the pronunciation. All my life I've been the only person in New England who says "sore-y" instead of "sorr-y." I've heard that's how some Canadians say it, but that doesn't explain anything. None of my forebears are Canadian, and all my current bears are well removed from the border. But I must've learned it from someone, just as The Boss has learned it from me.

I am not conscious of being so sorry. But I must be, in an oft-articulated way, for The Boss to have taken on the concept with such a vengeance. As I ask these questions of her strange contrition, I must now ask them of myself: Why is she so sorry? For what is she apologizing? For whom is she apologizing?

I know women are more likely than men to say sorry. I know that women are more likely than men to change their intonation at the end of sentences so that every statement ends up sounding like a question. That is not the kind of placating and uncertain language I want to teach my daughter, yet I do it every day. I do it without even realizing it. I see in The Boss's new expression what I need to work on, myself.

So The Boss learns from me and I learn from her. We are liberated together, for the first time.

11 comments:

Redneck Mommy said...

I say sorry the way you do.

But then I'm Canadian.

This just means you are tres cool like moi!

Wink, wink.

Chris said...

Yeah, you're sorry alright.

slouching mom said...

Aww. I'd love to hear her say sorry to the doorjamb.

Or sore-y, as the case may be.

Take comfort in this: she could be saying things that are, um, not so nice:

Like my boys, who repeat things I say to other drivers while driving.

Y'know, things.

Christine said...

So true. Many years ago, when my son was not even two years old, the bottom of a grocery bag broke as I was leaving the store. I started to swear, but stopped myself. My sweet boy finished it up for me. The old ladies in the checkout line behind me looked at me and I knew they knew he'd heard it from me by the disapproving looks on their faces.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Chicky does the same darn thing. If I'm pulling the knots out of her hair she feels the pain and says "sorry". Maybe she's just sick of hearing me saying it.

But she says sah-ry. Chicky is New England all the way. ;)

Lawyer Mama said...

Ooh, I say sorry reflexively all the time too.

But hey, it's better for her to say sorry too much than never at all.

And let's not even get into where my 2 1/2 year old learned the term "ass clown."

myminivanisfasterthanyours said...

I so totally related to this, and I hadn't even thought before that my 2 yo always says "sorry" because I do it. That's it, I'm sorry no more!

Really enjoyed this entry :)

Mrs. Chicken said...

I even say I'm sorry for saying I'm sorry.

The Poo says it, too.

It is a hard habit to break.

jen said...

i read an article once that talked about how women use the word sorry much more than men - and we use it for all sorts of things that don't require it, or were not even our fault. a dude bumps into us, and sorry! we say. the men don't.

it's disempowering somehow, like we are excusing our inconvenient existence. since then i've tried to be conscious of how much i say it. you know, i say it a lot.

Motherhood Uncensored said...

Ugh. I say it when people bump into me. And Q says it for falling down. It's just when she hits that it's not automatic.

Go figure.

We're working on that over here.

Major Bedhead said...

Boo says sorry all the time, too. Although she says sahh-ry, like Chicky baby. New England girl all the way.