“I Can’t Say Sorry Because I’m Eating”
First course: quesadillas, second course: apology
The saga of Kina’s questionable behavior continues, as your intrepid editor once again finds himself the target of his daughter’s ire—this time, because of quesadillas. Since the point of today’s issue is the resolution of our disagreement, I will not belabor its cause, other than to say that I had made a perfectly delicious plate of enfrijoladas out of some leftover beans, poached chicken, and nice tortillas; that Kina had enjoyed each constituent part of this dish in the days leading up to yesterday’s dinner; and that I should, accordingly, have seen this coming.
Fast forward through an enormous tantrum, through me frying up three more tortillas, sprinkling them with the remaining cheese, and tossing them on a plate (“A new plate! A clean plate!!!”) Let the camera linger on my sour face as I clean the skillet, as Kina screams “I want Daddy to eat that one!” in the living room. Cut to my silent entry into that living room, to Kina’s wary gaze upon me, to our mutual silent consumption of high-quality tortillas. A medium shot, perhaps, of Laurea and Kina, as mother asks daughter to apologize to father for yelling. A closeup of Kina, mouth stuffed with cheese, as she utters today’s top headline: “I can’t say sorry because I’m eating.”
But! Signs of progress! A few minutes later, we launched together into an exploration of feelings and conflict that I didn’t really have any time to write down. The shape of that conversation: Kina now knows why people fight, that it’s hard to keep from being frustrated (even for Daddies and other non-Daddy grownups), that it’s harder still to stop fighting and say you’re sorry, but that it helps to be able to say you’re angry—even if it doesn’t stop you from being angry—because maybe the other person can try not being angry first. The look of contemplation on Kina’s face was one of those rare moments you get to experience as a parent of your child realizing something you may only have recently come to understand yourself. She still has a very small prefrontal cortex, so I do not expect my child to become the Dalai Lama by this Friday, but I did feel a lot better about myself and my kid than I had thirty minutes earlier.
That she followed up by telling each of us that we had a “good heart” felt like a tremendous gift. She has a good heart too, this one. We have good hearts here. Lucky us.