November 19, 2004


Annika made me laugh with the list of advice her dad has given her. My dad also has a very dry sense of humor, and he's always been a sort of hands-off type of dad. He never intimidated any boyfriends, he never preached, and he wasn't the house authoritarian (that was our mama). So when he spoke, it was usually something memorable. Some of his wisdom was simple ("Never drive barefoot") and some of it was more complex (He made me figure out how much money I would have to pay on student loans each month if I chose to go to a private school instead of a state school.) But there is one "dad saying" that stands out for me.

Dad has an expression that drives some people nuts: "If you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it." Several people think that expression is absurd, but I know what my dad means by it, and I hate to hear him say it. Sometimes we know we're doing things that will hurt people or get us in trouble, but we do them anyway. And then we expect a "sorry" to fix everything. Dad doesn't buy it; you shouldn't have done it in the first place. I would often break my curfew in high school and then come in and say I was sorry. Of course I wasn't sorry and I had stayed late on purpose, so sorry doesn't cut it. Sometimes I would egg my parents on and then say 'sorry' in a huffy voice. That doesn't cut it either. The funny thing is that my husband has sort of picked that expression up and uses it when we argue. Whenever I sheepishly apologize, he echos Dad...and usually gets a punch in the arm.

I think about Dad's expression a lot. Obviously there are times when a sorry is sincere, but sometimes we shouldn't be allowed to get away with hurting people on purpose and then apologizing. If we were sorry, we wouldn't have done it.

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