Although it creeps into my thoughts and speech at times, “okay” is one of my least favorite words, especially in two particular contexts.
Yesterday, after reading Mercer Mayer’s book, I’m Sorry, I asked my class what their response should be when someone says “I’m sorry.” The quick reply was “That’s okay.” No…I don’t think so. Perhaps that is an appropriate reaction to an accident. Yesterday one of the students broke something and I said, “That’s okay, accidents happen.” However, if someone intentionally hurts you I think your answer to their apology should be “Thank you.” or “I appreciate your apology.” And I believe that if a child disobeys you and then apologizes you should never say “that’s okay” because it gives them the impression that their action wasn’t that important and two words erased it. Many become adept at “disobey and apologize”. Some of my students will actually hit someone and then say “I’m sorry” before their arm is back at their side! The apology has just become an automatic way to avoid punishment.
One of my other pet peeves is adults who tell children to do something and then follow the request or command with “Okay?” “Don’t kick people. Okay?” “Don’t scream at me. Okay?” Are we afraid to tell our children how to behave? Are we asking for their permission to request that they conduct themselves as they should? I’ve never quite understood the intention of people who regularly use that phrase.
“Okay” is also a rather depressing word in response to most questions because it evokes a feeling of mediocrity. “How are you feeling?” “How was your trip?” “How did you do on the test?” “How was your day?” Do we really want to hear “okay” as a reply?
The definition of “okay” is “fairly good”. I want my life to be better than that.