My kids know that one of my big pet peeves is the response, “I didn’t mean to.” Now I’m ok with this common excuse if, say, an otherwise observant and considerate person very accidentally bumps into someone they truly were unaware of. For instance, if you’ve been standing in line at the librarian’s desk all by yourself and then you engage in conversation with said librarian and meanwhile someone very quietly comes up and stands right behind you and when you turn around to go hunt for your book you quite accidentally bump into this stealth line stander, that is understandable. At that point, an “Oops. Excuse me; I didn’t mean to bump into you” would be quite appropriate.
But if I were to tell my English-major mother, “Oops. I didn’t mean to write such a long run-on sentence in the paragraph above,” that would not be acceptable. To me or my mother. (Neither would that sentence fragment, by the way.)
When you’ve been taught something, warned about something, made aware of something, you don’t get to use the excuse, “I didn’t mean to.”
When you have spell check, calculators, online dictionaries, and printed directions at your disposal, you don’t get to explain away your mistakes with, “I didn’t mean to.”
And when you’re given plenty of time, ample resources, huge doses of encouragement and assistance, and even special allowances, you just can’t throw all that grace back in one’s face and say, “Well I didn’t mean to.”
Because my response will always be (just ask my kids), “It’s not enough to not mean to; you need to mean not to.”
Fortunately for me, while my retort may come off sounding somewhat intolerant and ungracious, the Bible actually backs me up on this one.