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.