I had to apologize to Sari a while back.

We were playing UNO as a family and Sari came around the coffee table and wanted to tickle me. She poked her finger in my neck. I really didn’t want to be tickled at that moment (in fact, I hate being tickled), so I chided her:

“Sari, please don’t do that. I don’t like it. Please stop.”

I said those words in an annoyed, irritated, authoritative kind of tone. I wanted her to both know that I didn’t like it and NOT to do it again. Right after it happened, Amanda made fun of me to lessen its effect on Sari:

“Boom, boom, boom… big thunder cloud!”

I kinda laughed at that.

Later that night, when we were in bed, Amanda talked with me about what I had said and how what I say has an impressionable effect on Sari. “How I say things,” Amanda said, “is how you are shaping your daughter.” She asked if I wanted my daughter to be playful with me (which of course I do)… then I better not get so irritated and respond to her in that way.

Amanda was so right. I didn’t like it, but she was right.

The next morning, on the way to school, I apologized to Sari. I asked her if she remembered what I had said to her last night and she did. I told her I was sorry that I did that and asked her for forgiveness… to which she readily gave. I then told her that she can poke and try to tickle me whenever she wants and I won’t yell or get irritated with her.

I want both of my daughters to be free around me instead of fearful. I want them to be playful with me… and that includes them doing things that they like instead of all the things I like. I also need to be very careful how my responses are shaping my daughters.

Sari loves telling this story… actually, she makes me tell it. When we were going around to the various graduation parties this past May, Sari would say, in the presence of other adults: “Dad, tell the ‘Boom, boom, big thunder cloud’ story!”

I did.