Thursday, January 26, 2012

The gift of remorse

February is Autism Awareness Month so you'll be seeing a lot more posts about working with and around it at our house. I'm jumping the gun by posting this, but I was too happy to wait.

Monday, my 6 year old son showed remorse. It was the first unmistakable, undeniable, and unself-centered sign of remorse ever. He had broken his brother's beloved pop gun. With his brother crying in the background, I showed my Autistic son the broken pieces of the toy and said, "You broke this pop gun. John is crying because you broke his pop gun." He'd been smiling nervously, responding to the tension of the moment, but then his face changed. Tears welled up and his eyes darted to the room his brother was in. He touched the pop gun and then looked away. I seized the moment, drinking in the fact that here and now he was sorry. "Simon, you can fix this. Go hug John to say sorry."

My son John was surprised by both the tears in Simon's eyes and the hug. He stopped crying instantly. He's well versed in Autism and knows that the self-centeredness of his brother is not intentional, even if it can be hard to live with at times. Even though his all-time-favorite toy of the moment was gone, in moments he was smiling and proud of his brother being sorry for it. Of course it helped that I promised to replace the toy the first chance I got. The problem wasn't as large, the hurt wasn't as powerful now that Simon had showed he suffered over it, too.

Autism always gets me thinking. Forgiveness does not require remorse on the part of the forgiven, but it sure does help. When the wrong doer doesn't take up his own cross of remorse, we have to bear it with the thought that the person who should be sorry isn't. That makes the hurt a little bigger, sometimes a whole lot bigger.

I know that this is obvious. I know that you already know this, but some insights into ordinary things are bigger in real life. We get used to remorse in those who wrong us. We forget that it is a gift, that it is, in fact, optional. I am going to try to remember this the next time someone is sorry at me. I want to be thankful for it and not just expecting it.

Like my sons, I can learn.
Accept an apology like a gift...thankfully and politely

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