We gave Norah her first time out. It failed miserably.
Norah and Neighbor Girl were playing in the sandbox as Ryan, my sister, and I sat gabbing. The sand was pretty damp, being that she had dumped cup after cup of water in it the day before trying to make rivers. She shook her hands and globs of sand landed in Neighbor Girl's hair. Neighbor Girl sort of froze and looked like she might cry.
Ryan: Norah, be careful. You shook sand all over Neighbor Girl. Say you're sorry.
Ryan: Norah, can you say, "I'm sorry" to Neighbor Girl?
Ryan: If you don't say you're sorry, you're getting a time out.
Heather: Really? Are we doing this? Now?
Ryan: Say you're sorry.
Ryan stood up and plucked Norah out of the sandbox, then sat her in her tiny camping chair. She started to cry.
Ryan: Norah, the reason you're in a time out is because you won't say you're sorry to Neighbor Girl. Now you have to sit here for one minute.
He sat back down and looked at the time on his cell after channeling SuperNanny. My sister and I looked at each other, not really knowing what to say. Norah sobbed.
Heather: Well this is officially the longest minute ever.
After a minute of crying and pleading eyes, Ryan went to Norah and crouched down.
Ryan: Norah, the reason you had to sit in your chair for a minute was because you didn't apologize to Neighbor Girl for putting sand in her hair. You can play if you say you're sorry.
Norah (sobbing): Noooo.
Heather: Honey, can you say, 'I'm sorry?'
Norah (sobbing): Nooooo.
Ryan: Then you have to sit here for another minute.
I looked at Ryan and my sister in panic. Neighbor Girl stepped out of the sandbox and stared at all of us. Norah wept and looked horribly confused.
Heather: Why won't she just say she's sorry? I don't get it. I ask her to say lots of words and she does.
Sarah: I don't think she understands the concept.
Heather: I say it a hundred times a day. Ryan tells me to stop saying it so much.
Norah (sobbing): I play.
Ryan also looked panicked now. We were not doing this right. She was supposed to sit in the chair quietly and contemplate the interaction in question and then look down remorsefully and apologize to Neighbor Girl. He crouched down by Norah again.
Ryan: Honey, sometimes when we accidentally do something that makes someone sad, we need to say 'I'm sorry.'
Sarah: Like if someone bumps into you. They didn't mean to, but they say they're sorry.
I smacked my sister's arm.
Heather: I'm sorry Auntie Sarah. I didn't mean to hurt you.
Ryan: It's good manners.
Heather: Yes! Like please and thank you. When we do something like fling sand in someone's hair, we have to say sorry.
Sarah: Can you say you're sorry?
Norah (sobbing uncontrollably): NOOOO.
We were all clearly trying to end this horror, but save face at the same time. It wasn't working.
Heather: Oh, ff... forget this.
I can't even remember if I scooped her up and held her or if Ryan or Sarah did, but Norah got some cuddles and kisses and was returned to the sandbox with the very confused Neighbor Girl. After a few minutes, all was well.
Heather: That was a major fail. Why didn't she just apologize?
Sarah: I just think she knows an apology is kind of important, and doesn't want to say it unless she knows why.
We chatted a little more, and thought Sarah's point was valid. It would take some practice, I guess. And maybe next time we wouldn't have an audience looking on in horror.
So that's the story of Norah's first time out. Which proved embarrassing, for Norah, Ryan and I as bumbling idiots, awkward for Sarah and Neighbor Girl, and elicited a visit from Neighbor Mom, surprisingly, to see if her daughter was the source of the tantrum. I hope SuperNanny is streaming on Netflix.