Who Will Tell Me Sorry?

who will tell me sorry

Time stood still.

After she said, “Mummy I bumped my head against the window.”

Then moved slowly like a ticking bomb, tick-tock, tick-tock.

One irritated child, another crying child, an unhappy mother, and a grim-faced driver rode from Ikeja to Victoria Island. I wielded the power to change the sombre atmosphere in the car—one sentence, “Sorry, let me take a look at it,” was the magic wand that could banish sorrow to a faraway land.

Instead, I sat tight-lipped like a woman whose husband had asked, “What is the matter now?” after forgetting her birthday. The word sorry had become as precious to me as Silas Marner’s gold was to him. I did not have any more sorry to spare.

Our day had started innocently enough. The children wanted to visit The Fun Place, and I acquiesced. Undaunted by traffic, their incessant chatter filled the car before they succumbed to the go-slow and dozed off. They woke up just as we approached Opebi and bounced gently in their seats to the rhythm of their melodious voices.

So what went wrong? Nothing. Nothing really, except that from the moment they woke up, they had been running in my direction in ardent search for those precious words.

“Mummy, I stubbed my toe as I was coming down the stairs,” one complained and looked at me as if I conspired with the builder to build steep steps.

“Oh sorry dear, come closer, let me take a look.”

Then I gave the toe a gentle rub to soothe the pain. The pacified child retrieved his toe, announced that he felt better, and disappeared. As the day wore on, both kids took turns to seek this cure-all for life’s little mishaps.

“Mummy, I fell down.”

“Sorry, ….”

“Mummy, I bit my tongue.”

“Sorry, ….”

“Mummy, I cut my arm.”

“Sorry, ….”

“Mummy, my sister won’t play with me, the sun won’t shine, the dog won’t bark, the flowers won’t grow, there’s no light, there’s no water,” and on and on, and on and on.

To these and their array of mounting complaints, I have learnt to either feign concern or inject a sufficient amount of compassion in my voice, as I give an appropriate response by rote while multi-tasking!

It was the same story at The Fun Place. I opened my novel, read one paragraph and then said sorry. A little sorry here, a little sorry there. I read another paragraph before tales of being pushed and hit, tales of being unfairly treated, and tales of falling down, assaulted my ears. A big sorry here, a big sorry there, and in all, I had read four paragraphs of my novel by the time we determined to leave.

I eased into the car, looking forward to closing my eyes and dreaming of my bed. I wiped apple juice from my hands, mildly irritated by my sticky fingers, and dusted popcorn off my jeans. The gaping pothole that rocked the car from side to side, had caused everyone and everything to shift position, including my mood.

It was at this precarious time that my daughter pouted, “Mummy I bumped my head against the window.”

I folded my arms and pursed my lips.

It was time to count to fifty, but I would not.

I sighed.

Who will tell me sorry? Did I not also bump my head against the car window? Had I not also stubbed my toe last night in the NEPA-induced darkness? I had muttered, “ow,” rubbed my toe myself, and continued with life.

Who will tell me sorry for the fact that I could not stretch my monthly chop money to cover the whole month due to inflation?

Who will tell me sorry for my car shaft, which needed replacement because the road to my house had become a river?

I sighed.

No, I did not think I had any free sorry to dole out. Let her tell herself sorry for a change!

Her cries slowed to a whimper. A quick glance confirmed my suspicion—her eyelids were drooping in preparation for sleep. Something stirred within me. I reached out and caressed her head, “Sorry darling, does it feel better?”

She sagged against her seat belt, a contended smile barely breaking through tired lips, as everyone else visibly relaxed.

So, who will tell me sorry?

© Timi Yeseibo 2013


image design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

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23 thoughts on “Who Will Tell Me Sorry?

  1. Mums! hmmn at least we have someone to say sorry to… guess the choice sometime is between no one to talk to and someone to stress us.

    Hopefully we would have them there to care for us when we are so old.

    Timi nice piece of work!


  2. Awww….mummies and their exclusive empathy cure….Children sha *musing smile*
    Oya Timi,sorry….lol……
    Ochuko is such a funny somborry@dispensation of grace…firstborns get it hard though.


  3. Never really got that many Sorries from my mum, she was and still is an action lady. Then again, I am the first child I happened to arrive at a time when she had no time for nonsense. My younger siblings tho arrived during the dispensation of grace, they have it easy, they get sorries for things that would have landed me some lashes back in the day. Truth is Mothers really have it hard, but the truth is if they had the chance to do it all over again, they’d probably not have it any other way.


    1. Lol@ “My younger siblings tho arrived during the dispensation of grace,” 🙂 But after expending a lot of energy on you, I’m sure you were/are a role model to your siblings that your mother is proud of.


  4. Timi, you can ask that again. Well most often, as super -mums we have to tell ourselves sorry. You are right; sometimes moms run out of sorry, because they have given out too much in one day and in some cases spend tomorrow’s sorry today! And when tomorrow arrives…..


  5. I so feel you. Being a mummy is such an emotionally draining job, and yet one that is so rewarding too. Here’s my sorry too :).
    @Emma, I don’t know exactly what you went through, but sometimes when people cannot physically help you, all they can say is sorry. It is a way to express their empathy, to show their concern, to say they care, and they wish they could do more. No vex, you’d have felt much worse if you were left to your own issues, this world can get very lonely….


    1. I receive your sorry with plenty gratitude 🙂

      Yes, Joxy, sometimes we see the people we care about having a hard time and we are at a loss for words… sorry seems to be the next best thing…. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Sorry for the times I missed reading your blog because I was ‘doing’.

    Sorry for the times when I would read and not comment – and not even ‘like’ because I’m constantly in a state of motion – constantly happening to things.

    Sorry for not telling you before now – but I think you’re an amazing woman, and your kids and husband are lucky – no; blessed to have you.

    And no; I’m not sorry to say; this is one more life you touch.

    God bless you. So so richly.


  7. Tender and sweet, Timi. Kids love it when their parents are receptive to their needs. When they hurt themselves or feel threatened, they run to their parents, saying, “Mommy this … mommy that…”,”Daddy this … daddy that…” And I believe they do so because they are confident their parents are there to look after them, to shower them with lots of love.

    I admit I used to draw a lot of “sorry”s from my mum when I was younger, but I hardly got the same from my dad. He was and still is that no-nonsense kind of man. Your story reminds me of my nephew and niece, who visit me quite regularly.

    Above all, I’ve found that “sorry” has a powerful effect when said. Like the kids, we too need it. 🙂


  8. This morning while my husband and I were getting ready for work my son came to our room complaining that he hurt his feet while my husband was asking all the technical questions like where did u hit your leg?, where u jumping? Etc. I took a cue from your blog and just said ‘sori’ and that was all the cure he needed and he was gone for his next adventure!


  9. Just the inference my mind conjured up as I scrolled down: A self-generated, self-directed “sorry” might be more soothing than envisaged.

    Quite a relatable piece.


  10. Motherhood! We played the same roles to our mothers when we were kids, now its our turn. The answer to ‘who told our mothers sori ‘ is the answer to our own question. Makes u appreciate your mom now! For all the sorries u give now u’ re sure to get appreciated someday!


  11. Just reminded me of my time in Abuja a couple of days ago, even though the reverse is the case. I was tired of the “sorrys” coming my way. I spent a fruitless 3 days in search of my kids and all I got was “I wish I could be of more help, sorry”. Then to compound it all, malaria set in and that was when I couldnt stand the sorrys anymore and snapped. My friend I stayed with had a sorry to say for every 10 words. I am looking for someone who wont tell me sorry so I dont climb up the next wall


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