Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seriously

Right now I'm on vacation, sitting in the middle of somewhere, which feels like nowhere, because I can see entirely too much sky and ground without interruption of, anything. Mountain Home, Idaho. Birthplace of The Hubbs and location of his second job, the Air Force Reserve. He has to work here this week and the girls and I are tagging along, because it's a short flight and we never get to see The Hubbs anymore. Where is he anyway? Oh yes, work, which means I have a lot of time on my hands and no excuse not to blog.


It's actually beautiful here. There is something to say about being able to see for miles. Plenty of blue sky and sun. Good flying weather for these Air Force folks. Aaaaaand, The Hubbs wears a uniform all week, which is pretty cool. I can find good stuff. If not, I'll make it up.

Seriously though. I do have something serious to talk about--parenting. I had to do parent stuff this week, teach lessons and talk with my serious voice and eyes to one of my little ones. Guess which one. Mmmhmmmm, Addy-girl. That sneaky monkey got into some serious mischief. This girl keeps me on my toes. It's worrying, in that she totally reminds me of myself at her age. And I know myself pretty well. I know, as a parent, what I'm possibly in for and I need to nip this baby in the bud quick!

We were lucky enough to go to the beach last weekend with my side of the family. My brother and his wife are in town for a couple weeks and the ten of us, and a bunny (to be explained at a later post), squeezed into a three bedroom condo on the beach and had a great time. Really, we are good at this. One of many things we did was go to this little cluster of junk shops, stores full to the brim of stuff you'll never buy, but are fun to peruse. Kind of like treasure hunting. Along with these stores were little tourist traps, selling your usual shells, magnets, shark teeth encased in amber, t-shirts and kites. That sort of stuff. My girls wanted one of everything. I reminded them that we already had all that stuff (crappola) and moved on, promising hours of pool time, which is totally all I have to say.

So, back at the condo, we're all spread out, doing our own thing, when my mom pulls me aside to show me a ring that she saw Addy was playing with. It was a little two dollar ring, my mom recognized from one of the shops we had been to that day. So can you guess what happened? My girl took it. Stole it. Before my mom brought it to my attention, she had asked Addy about it, and within seconds, Addy was making up (lying) an elaborate story about "finding" it on her shelf at home. Too bad, that very ring was a ring my mom actually showed to her at the store. Sucks to be you, Addy. Girl was caught.

I told Addy to meet me in the bedroom and gathered my serious voice, eyes and plan of lesson learning. As soon as I walked into the room, Addy burst into tears, "I'm lying, Mommy." This made me happy, in that she already knew she was way wrong and knew things weren't looking good for her. Good. This is a good reaction. The right reaction. Very quickly the story came out. Basically exactly what a six-year-old would say, "I just loved it soooo much and reeeeally wanted it." Seriously, I explained how wrong she was to steal it, emphasizing the "stealing" part. She knew all of it, as thankfully, my children do know there is a line dividing right and wrong. I could see how scared she was, embarrassed, ashamed, all good reactions. I told her that we all make mistakes, and we need to make things right and learn from them when we do. Through tears, she replied, "I made a REALLY BIG MISTAKE." Good answer.

Part of her discipline was that we would drive back to the store the next day, she would apologize to the store owner and return the ring. This scared her good, invoking more tears, apologies and begging that I would do this for her. Again, good reaction. I assured her that I would be there with her, but she would do it. I knew this would be good for her, as I have been in almost, the exact situation at her age.

Yeah, this is where the scary, "I see myself in her" part comes in. Part of me wants to chalk all of this up to normal behavior for a six-year-old. But I can't. Not every kid does this. None of my friends have told me their kiddos have done this and my oldest managed to avoid this, thus far (though we have a long way to go here too). This is my kid. I'm taking responsibility for this one. Most of the time when the serious stuff comes up as a parent, I question myself in how to handle it. This is what I do. This time, however, I knew exactly what to do.

When I was her age, I stole (though at the time, I insisted I "accidentally took") a pack of gum from a store. I remember realizing I had it after I left the store and becoming very scared, because, like Addy, I had a very good idea of right and wrong at her age, thanks to my parents. I had gone grocery shopping with my dad, and as we were checking out, I was playing with the gum, smelling all the packets and such. I probably asked if I could have some and my dad said, "no." This is probably when I "accidentally took" it. I remember barely getting out the door, looking at the gum in my hand and feeling sick over it. I remember physically reacting to it, feeling the rush of heat and nausea, before we even reached our car. I didn't even want to look at it, so when I got home, I hid it.

Little did I know, my dad knew everything. He saw me take it at the store and waited to see if I would "do the right thing" and take it back, or tell him. When I didn't, he called me on it. I lied, and he led me to my hiding space and took out the pack of gum. I remember the look on my dad's face, the disappointment in his voice. I remember feeling everything I saw in my own daughter's face. It was all there.

Part of my discipline that day was taking the gum back to the store and apologizing to every store employee, from the manager to the produce guy, to the bagger. Everyone. It was The Worst. But one of the very best lessons I ever had. It stuck with me and I wanted this lesson to stick with Addy too.

So we took Addy back to the store the next day. The drive down was pretty sad. Addy was scared, head buried in her pillow on her lap, all the way down. She complained her head hurt. It was a very quiet drive, unheard of in our world. It was good that it wasn't a short drive either, not "just around the corner".

We finally got there and to our disbelief, the store was closed; a huge disappointment for me as we were leaving for home, an hour and a half away. I wanted this lesson for her. Quickly I went to Plan B, as I could see relief flooding over Addy. I got The Serious out and told her she would be writing a letter to the store owner and we would send the ring back. Not quite the impact I wanted to go with for her, but she needed something meaningful to remember this by.

When we got home, she went to work. Thankfully, I could see that "making this right" meant a lot to her as well. Not only did she write a two-page letter of apology, she taped the ring and four dollars to the letter.

I'm sad this whole situation happened. As a parent, it's a little heart breaking, because you teach them. You hate to see them fail in anything. Their choices, good and bad, reflect back on to you. But, as I told her, we all make "really big mistakes". That doesn't change when you're "older" and have years of knowing right and wrong. I still get reality checks. I still have a lot to learn. But I do know a lot. I've been through some stuff. I've got a lot to give her. So, I'll remain on the tips of my toes with her, with both my girls, vigilant as a parent should be, knowing that this is just the beginning.


3 comments:

sherilee said...

Good for you. Sounds like you handled it really well. I had a situation when I was a kid and did something like that, but never got caught, and it weighed me down for some time with guilt. It would have been really good for me if someone had caught me and I'd had to deal with it at the time and then let it go. So kudos to you for working with her on it now, because she can let it go, knowing she has made it right.

Dee from Downunder said...

Ahh, I can feel Addys anguish all the way over here!

You did the right thing. I am sure my time will come too - with E. She's a terror!

Jen said...

I had a very similar situation when I was little, and my mom handled it very much the same way. It's stuck with me my entire life, so *I* think you did a very good thing. Congrats, Girl! You're da momma. :) xoxo