The Many Meanings of “Sorry”

I wrote the post below six years ago. If I were keeping track, I would have to imagine that “Sorry” would most certainly show up in the top 5 on the list of DC’s most used words.

Some of the time, he IS sorry for something or another, but as I have said and written many time before, he really does not understand what “sorry” means. For him it is just something to say when he thinks he’s done something wrong, when he going to do something he shouldn’t and for many reasons that really don’t have anything to do with being sorry.

This morning, I, (“grace”) tripped over the coffee table, broke a coffee cup – spilling the contents on the way down and smacked my arm on said table hard enough so it was bleeding. DC told me he was sorry. In cases like this, I am never really sure if he thinks he has done something or is he reversing things and really thinks that I should say that I am sorry for falling over the table. Or… as a speech therapist once told me, is it his go-to word that he uses when he does not know what else to say?

I explained as I do every time he says he is sorry for no reason, that he did not do anything and there was nothing for him to be sorry about.

I have come to realize over the years that “I’m sorry” is not only used for the reasons above and in the post below. Sometimes he uses it as his way of telling me that something is bothering him….

The other morning his iPad broke, right before he was ready to leave for work.

I know you all just stopped breathing (as did I) in anticipation of the fallout.

Surprisingly, the fallout was minimal. He was upset but calm. For once, he did not apologize for something that was not his fault. He listened to me as I told him I would have to buy him a new one but he could use his phone or my “tablet” in the meantime.

He repeated all of that back to me a few (or more) times before he left. I, in turn had to verify all of what he was repeating and repeat it all again to him.

His transport arrived and he left.

Just like that.

My phone rang on my way to work. It was DC (Spontaneous phone use… Yay!).

I said “Hello” and the first thing he said was:

“I’m sorry”

I did not know what he was sorry for now. I thought that maybe he did something at work and he was now telling on himself – something he does often.

But, no. When I asked him what he was sorry about he said:

“No sorrys. Mom will buy new iPad.”

He was worried about the new iPad more than he let on before he left. It was bothering him. He wanted to talk about it again.

Saying “I’m sorry” is his way in to a conversation about something that is bothering him.

The iPad was bothering him,

He wanted to talk about it.

He called me (again, spontaneous phone use – I will take it)

“I’m sorry” helped him to start the conversation.

 

 

“Happy?” – “Sorry” – What’s next?

Yes, John Lithgow is "Happy"

Yes, John Lithgow is “Happy”

Years ago, DC and I were out doing errands. We had to have stopped at 3 or 4 different stores, which at the time was very difficult for him. By the time we got to the Health Food store, he was so out of control that the cashier saw fit to stop the line to try to educate me about just what vitamins, etc. I should be giving him to combat his ADD – (Holding up a line of customers to give me advice in front of all those customers, was just what I needed). I informed him that my son had autism, not ADD, but thank you very much!

On the way out, I said “I am not very happy today”. That one single comment led to years of DC asking everyone if they were happy. He did not have many “words” under his belt at the time, but he did manage to ask everyone he met if they were “Happy?” (Can you say “guilt”?)

* We have an autograph on a golf card from John Lithgow making it clear to DC, that yes, he is “happy” (see photo).

Eventually he stopped asking people if they were happy and the “Happy” question was replaced with “sorry”. I am sure this is my fault as well. Somewhere along the line I must have told him to say he was sorry for something and there it began.

He is sorry for absolutely everything! Partially because he believes an “I’m sorry” will get him out of anything.  He thinks that saying “I’m sorry” even when he doesn’t know what he is sorry about will get him out of anything or at least get me to stop talking. When he really wants to bring it home he will move on to: “I’m ‘ter-bly’  sorry” or “I am soooooo sorry”. He will even throw in a “Can you ever forgive me?” (movie line) when he really thinks it is necessary.

He says he is sorry, WHILE he’s doing something he shouldn’t, and will continue right on doing whatever it is because he is covered, he already said he was sorry. Or he will say he is sorry when he is about to do something he knows he shouldn’t. He is covered- he already said he was sorry!

He says he is sorry when he asks a question and the answer happens to be “no”. In his mind, “no” is a negative even when it is just an answer to a question. I have tried to explain all of this to him but as much as I try to simplify there are just some things he will never understand.

Don’t get the wrong impression; he is not upset or anxious when he says he is sorry. It is just a word to him. He does not constantly think he’s in trouble. It is just something for him to say….. over and over again.

A few days ago he somehow figured out from one of his books that the word “Sympathy” in a way means “sorry”. So on that day, DC was “in sympathy” for sneaking chips.

I think I might like that better.

 

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