Updated: Jun 19, 2022
“Forgive your brother 7x77 times," this was taught to us in religion class as children, but I didn't agree. I was more of a "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" type of mindset. But my boys seem to understand brotherhood and forgiveness at a very young age.
My 6 year old has been extra naughty last Saturday. He grabbed the pirates hat on his little brother's head when there's two more exactly like it within his arm's reach. Then he held hostage his brother's paper doll homework, threatened to throw it in the trash and locked himself in the room. My threats were not enough to balance the glee he got from seeing his little brother upset.
Some time later, when all's well again with the siblings, the 6 year old asked me for his iPad. They are only allowed iPads on weekends so they are looking forward to it the whole week. (The only thing the little brother looks forward even more on Saturdays is his big brother getting injected. Certain vaccinations can only be done on Saturdays, but I digress.)
I said no. He cannot have his iPad because he's been bad. He went to his brother to say sorry, then asked for the Ipad again. I still said no. He went back to his brother and said, "Didi, can you give me another chance? (弟弟，你可以再给我一个机会吗？）“ Younger bro Didi casually replied, "I'll even give you 100 chances. Ding! Ding! （我也能给你100个机会. Ding! Ding!)"
I paused. Where did my 4 year old learn such magnanimity? Besides his bell sound effects at the end of every punchline, he is like a wise old Yoda. Come to think of it, he also talks like Yoda when he speaks in English. Such as, "Mama, Papa where is?" 100 is significant because he can only count up to a hundred, he also thinks his grandma is 100 years old. So giving his big brother 100 chances is essentially saying he will infinitely forgive him.
That fuzzy feeling didn't last very long though. After an hour or so, the big brother was acting up again and again. I was so mad that I pulled out his palm, "HOW MANY SPANKS DO YOU DESERVE?" "ONE!" Said the big brother. I asked what wrongs did he do to deserve a punishment. He didn't know! So I asked his little brother to enumerate how he's been hurt; Then I added more mean things he did when his little bro wasn't looking. So how many sparks do you deserve?
The little judge gave a verdict, "Mama, 1000 spanks." The big bro was quick to claim his amnesty card, "Didi. You! Said! 100!" "Mama, 100 spanks he said!" The little one's eyes gleamed.
At that point, I couldn't keep a straight face anymore. The little one and I just laughed out loud at the wit and absurdity of it all. Especially since my hulk was getting even more hulkish as we laugh.
When all has calmed down (again), and I was working on something else, the big bro came back to me and voluntarily offered his palm. He demanded, “打！ （spank)" I was touched that he finally understood the wrongs he did, and he didn't try to escape punishment when he could've. I held his palm with my two hands... and instead of spanking, I kissed his palm. Then I hugged him tight. I whispered why I kissed him instead. Because mama loves him and I'm glad he understood he was wrong. And that as the older brother, he must be the protector, not the tormentor. We were both quiet, both holding back tears, and quietly communicating everything there is to say though a tight embrace.
I think acts of kindness will have a more impact than acts of punishment.