Gary Soto’s story “Growing Up” shows that both parents and children can regret things they said and find it difficult to apologize for hurting another person’s feelings. While Maria’s family is preparing to go on vacation, Maria remembers far more negative things than positive ones about their vacation the previous year. Dwelling on her own interests, she disrespects her father and sulks in her bedroom. When her mother convinces her father to let her stay home under her godmother’s care, Maria at first feels happy at what she considers her victory over her father’s unreasonable demands.
The narrator soon reveals Maria’s changing emotions about this decision. She realizes that she has hurt her father’s feelings with her harsh words. As the others prepare to get in the car, she remains in her bedroom. She feels like apologizing but worries that doing so would make her cry.
She wanted to apologize to her father but couldn’t. She knew that if she said, “Dad, I’m sorry,” she would break into tears.
Even after she goes outside to say goodbye, she cannot look at her father. Instead, she looks down and directs her words at a hose lying on the ground.
Alone in her room, she passes the time reading a magazine, but she soon begins to feel uneasy. She feels “awful” about the argument. She also begins to think about the car trip, which will be boring for her mother and siblings. She even contemplates the possibility of her father being so upset that he would cause an accident.