I will make this apology to you on Sunday night, when I continue reading the adventures of Bad Kitty. It will happen right after I read to your sister from Anne of Green Gables. I will apologize, and I will ask you to remember this. I want you to know that admitting failure is both important, and ok. You will fail. Even as an adult. I also want you to learn from my mistake.
I made a bad choice on October 15. At 9:30 am that morning, having known for about 12 hours, and about 8 hours before you would know that your dad was dying, I got on to a conference call for work. Your mum and dad were making calls to their family. it was hard, difficult. I got you fed, I cuddled your sister, I started the process of negotiating clothing choices with you.
And you had a meltdown. Your shirt was too . . . something. It was an autism thing, a little boy thing, an “everything is wrong and out of sorts thing”. It was too much and your brain went into overdrive.
Here’s what I needed to do. I needed to interrupt the senior business SME, I needed to tell them that my family needed me, that I was on vacation, and I needed to hang up the call. I needed to put the phone down, the work away, and I needed to just be with you.
Instead, I tried to do both things at once. I tried to comfort you and get you dressed and still pay attention to the conference call.
You needed me. You needed Aunty Smarties, who has loved you since before you were born. You needed the Aunt that reads to you, sends you letters, is delighted by your kid drawings. You needed my full attention because in that moment you needed to be the most important thing in my world.
And you weren’t. You were an important thing. One among others. I allowed the fact that this project is on fire and my need to save things get in the way of the one thing I had to do. Which wasn’t about saving anyone, it was just about being present.
Here’s the thing. The thing I won’t tell you now, but I will tell you later, when you remember this apology as an adult. When I was 15 I tried to kill myself. They rushed me to the hospital, the hospital tracked down my mother. She arrived a few hours later, throwing the curtain open, demanding to know how I could do this to her, did I not know how busy she was. And I promised – I promised myself and the world that I would never do that. I would never put work ahead of people. I would never make my list of things to do more important than the people around me.
I broke my promise. I failed. I failed you and I failed me. Your mum and dad talk about Jesus, but I’m an agnostic. I think about being the person that Mr. Rogers wants me to be.
Great Nephew that I love beyond bounds – I was nowhere near that person at 9:30 am on October 15th. You deserved better. I failed. I am so very sorry.
Every single person who figures into a child’s life has had a less than stellar moment. Every. Single. One.