Yesterday there was a big accident in our house (it might have happened on purpose but only God and Noah know for sure). While I was helping Grace in the bathroom, Noah broke Buzz Lightyear's leg off, right at the knee. Buzz is Grace's favorite, favorite, favorite toy and when she saw what happened she was totally crushed. She cried at first, but it didn't last long. She was too devastated to cry! She told him that she wouldn't be his big sister anymore and I heard her singing under her breath some words from the Taylor Swift song "We are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together." She was actually so sad and mad at Noah that she didn't want to be around him anymore.
Even though he said he was sorry, she went upstairs and lay down in my bed reading magazines by herself for the next 35 minutes before she came downstairs again. She didn't want to talk to anyone. She kept saying "no big sister..." to herself over and over again. It was heartbreaking.
My clumsy attempt at triage failed (the superglue actually made the repair much more difficult) so Buzz was given a long nap before Far came home for a surgical consult. Buzz's full leg has been amputated at the hip right now and the chief surgeon is still working to save and reattach the lower leg (it seems a small piece of plastic was lost during the break). We should know more by tonight. But that is not actually why I am writing this.
When Grace came downstairs again she said, "I am really sad and mad and grumpy so I don't want to talk to Noah anymore."
In that moment I decided to try and teach Grace about forgiveness. It is something I've been trying to work on with her lately (even just ordered a Berenstain Bears book to help!), but Grace has not had a big "a ha moment" in understanding what forgiveness is. I thought THIS could be the moment. I give myself credit only for recognizing the opportunity. The rest was all Grace.
Me: It is totally OK for you to feel sad and mad and grumpy for as long as you need to. But at some point, I think you should forgive Noah.
Grace: What is forgive?
Me: Forgiveness is when, even though somebody does something to hurt you or make you sad, you accept it when they say they are sorry and you stop being mad at them.
Then she thought about it for a few minutes. She mentioned her feelings again, I validated them again and mentioned forgiveness again. Then she asked WHY she should forgive him.
Me: If you forgive Noah, it will make you feel a lot better because then you can let go of all the sad and mad and grumpy. If you keep those feelings inside they can make you tired and stop you from having fun and playing. But if you forgive him then you let go of them and they are gone. Then you feel better!
Rose also chimed in and said, "And if you forgive him, you can forget about what happened too."
She thought about those things for another few minutes. And then another few minutes. Then she went over to Noah and she hugged him and said, "I'm still your big sister. I forgive you."
He hugged her back and she hugged him more and they ended up in a pile of hugs and giggles.
To no one's surprise, I almost cried.
And here is the kicker: even though Buzz is still broken and she told a lot of people about him yesterday, she is actually not mad at Noah anymore! She hasn't blamed him once or talked about what he did wrong or anything. She REALLY did let go of those feelings!
I am not sure if I am the only one who finds this to be completely amazing - but to witness my 4-year old actually understand such a mature concept was very powerful. It was also a great reminder that maybe I could become a more forgiving person too. I am sure I need some work, especially in the "forgetting" department!
So please excuse me if I am bragging a bit, but it was a very big moment. I record a lot of things in this blog because every year it is published into a book for our children to have as a record of their childhood...and this is REALLY something I want Grace to remember when she is older. It was a moment that I will never forget.
Let's just hope that when Buzz "wakes up" again, she can teach him to forgive Noah too!