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Thursday, April 01, 2010

The I in Sorry

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On Sundays at church, I am currently a teacher -- a teacher of children. Small children. Like, 18 months old all the way to 3 years old. It's a class called Nursery. Many people view Nursery as a place to which an adult gets cast when there is Nothing Better For Them To Do, others view it as The Babysitting Class, and these views could not be more inaccurate. From The purpose of the nursery class is to help children learn the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and live it. The nursery class should help the children increase their understanding of and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, have positive experiences in a Church setting, and grow in feelings of self-worth.

In Nursery, we do have a schedule: we spend some time playing with toys (after all, the children have just spent an hour or so in Sacrament meeting -- did you know that Mormons go to church for three hours on Sundays?), and then we clean up, wash hands, have a prayer, have a snack, have a lesson, do an activity (coloring or the like), have singing time, and play with puzzles.

Nursery is a place where very, very important principles are taught. Just look at the titles of some of the lessons:

~ I Am a Child of God

~ I Can Pray to Heavenly Father

~ Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Love Me

~ I Love My Family

Recently I was typing up a teaching schedule for the next few months and a certain lesson's title stood out to me.

I Will Say, "I'm Sorry"

What a vital thing to learn. The teaching manual includes an Introduction For The Teacher, which for this lesson includes: Whenever we do something wrong or make a mistake, we should admit our fault and try to correct it (see James 5:16). Our willingness to humble ourselves and apologize can soften hearts and prepare us to come unto Christ (see 3 Nephi 12:23–24).

My son is 3 & 1/2 years old. He's not in my Nursery class at church, but he knows how to say, "I'm Sorry," although from him it's more of a monosyllabic version of, "Saw-yee." At times when my older children have not been getting along with each other, I'll force suggest that they apologize to each other, and the result is a less than half-hearted and mumbled, "sry." Also with the older children, we're working on not over-using the word Sorry when dealing with an uncomfortable situation: "Sorry, I just -- sorry, could you, I mean...Sorry, Mom, I just have something to ask, and, sorry, just...sorry." (We all know people who do this, no?)

As I was considering this lesson, it occurred to me that perhaps there should be a similar lesson for adults. Not just, I Will Say, "I'm Sorry," but instead, I Will Say, "I'm Sorry I . . .". A lesson in taking responsibility for hurting others, or whatever else we do (not that we need to apologize for everything we do, but we do need to own what we do). A main bullet point would be teaching that an apology is not saying, "I'm sorry you . . ." as in, "I'm sorry you got offended," or "I'm sorry you feel that way." (Of course, "I'm sorry you are going through this difficult time," is a whole other ball game. You know that.) I've been on the receiving end of this "I'm Sorry You" stuff, and it's a really crappy feeling. Instead we should all practice saying, "I'm sorry I did that." And the like. Not to go overboard and be martyrs, you understand, and certainly not to allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, but simply (or not-so-simply) to take ownership of that which is ours.

And we could finish the lesson by dipping our goldfish crackers in our cups of water while waiting for singing time to begin.


Melissa said...

Its amazing how those words can go a long way in making a situation better. I wish we could all say that easier :)

Nicole said...

It takes a lot of humility to say sorry for something you did. I guess that's why we're supposed to learn how to do it starting at age 2. I have also found that the lessons are always applicable to me when I teach my Sunbeam class. Thanks for the thoughts. Miss you all!!!! And good luck at the conference!

cabesh said...

I love structured nursery. It's so important! We use the nursery manual for FHe--we're on the second round with it. Those lessons are good for not only our 3 year old, but also the 7 & 5 year old.

On saying "I'm sorry I....." and taking responsibility we had an Enrichment on healthy relationships (taught by the stake "Improving Marriages" teachers) and two major themes were taking responsibility for our actions and apologizing. It was fantastic. Our sisters want them to come teach it to the men also.

Camille said...

My 2-year-old apologizes just like Gigi (SNL) - no joke. My 5yo suddenly starts crying out of the blue and I'll say in a low, very drawn out voice, "Caitlyyynnn". Silence. "Caitlyyyynnn". Then she'll look at her sister with a sly grin and mutter "sorry".

Very cool post! We can definitely learn a lot from a toddler. And I'm glad to hear your perspective on the nursery calling. It's one I hold in high regard out of any other calling in the Church!

TheOneTrueSue said...

I love this post.

I hate it when people say "I'm sorry you were offended." You'd be better off saying nothing at all.

I rock at apologizing. Being fairly oblivious gives you plenty of practice.

La Yen said...

That was great.
My favorite is when Lil ~J comes up to me and says "I'm offense, but...can you take me to the store?"

One day I will act REALLY offended.

Gerb said...

It is all so true. I was always amazed at the things I learned when I was the Nursery Lady. Those lessons would be good to review in some of the adult classes, I think. We just need reminding.

Vern said...

That last sentence says it all. Can I pick my nose and eat it for the "All Things In Moderation" lesson?

Emily said...

I love that you take nursery seriously. It's true many parents look at it as on-site daycare, but some of the nursery leaders do too, which leads to a very chaotic couple of hours.

And the end of your post was spot on: we all need to complete the incomplete sentence "I'm sorry..." Then it shows you truly are sorry for whatever it is you did or didn't do. Finishing it off with soggy goldfish crackers just sweetens the deal!

By the way, we have Sacrament meeting LAST. Let me tell you how much fun it is to try to get your kids to sit reverently after two hours of Primary!

Brandie said...

Great post. I just got released after 18 months serving in the nursery. I enjoyed most of it. It started to get really hard the past few months. After reading your post I am sad I got released. There is much to learn from 18 month olds and especially from 2 year olds who scream that's Jesus when they see his picture. If only I was that excited when I saw his picture.