Sunday, November 04, 2007

I Think I Did The Right Thing -- For Once

The afternoon just before Halloween, my 8 year old and I made a quick trip to the local party store to try to find some last minute accessories for his costume. We were looking for a hair covering to make your head look bald, and for a reddish-orangish beard. We didn't find exactly what we were looking for (they were fresh out of bald heads...) but I picked up some different colors of face make-up and I was sure I could make something beard-like. At the check out counter, some candy was at child height (of course) and my son asked for some. "No, you'll be having lots of candy at Halloween!" I replied. I bought the supplies and we left.

Once in the car, I noticed Jordan hiding something. He had a candy, similar to the one in the store. "Did you steal that?" I asked. "No, I found it on the ground!" he replied. I should have known right there what was going on, but he's good. He'll be acting in Hollywood or on Broadway some day. Somehow, he convinced me that he had found the candy on the ground, and that he wouldn't think of stealing.

We drove home. I fixed him a snack.

In a few minutes, he came back. He informed me that he thought about it, and he wanted to tell the truth, and that he had taken the candy.

Great.

I stayed very very calm. "We have to go back to the store, and give the cashier the money for the candy." I knew this was the right thing to do. "Natural consequences," I could hear my friend Debbie's voice saying in my head.

Jordan tried to get out of it several different ways. Bargaining: can't we just buy another candy and sneak it back into the store? Fear: the cashier will be angry at me! They'll call the police! They'll arrest me! More bargaining: can we tell them that someone else took the candy and give them the money? That way I won't be embarrassed.

I stood firm. I stayed calm. I held my ground.

I was going to wait until the next day (it was already almost time for trick or treating) but Jordan didn't want to wait. He wanted to get it over with. I made him get some money from his wallet, and we headed back to the party store.

As we walked toward the store, he kept stopping. "I need a minute!" he said. He was really tormented. It was working great.

We walked into the store. The same clerk was at the cash register, a young guy, maybe 15 or 16. We walked up to him, and all I said was: "my son took a candy without paying for it, and we'd like to pay for it now." The clerk looked a little surprised but not terribly excited by the whole thing. He rang the candy up at the register. Turns out this whole thing was for 25 cents. After he took the money, he rallied, and said: "Thanks for being honest. Most people wouldn't come back and pay." We left the store.

Jordan was surprised that he hadn't been more angry. I was relieved that the whole thing was over. I'm fairly certain he won't be stealing again any time soon. I'm pretty proud of myself for how I handled the situation, but overall, I wish it hadn't happened at all.

2 comments:

Kate said...

Ah, kids. But I think you did the right thing. Sometimes a little fear (not too much!) is a good thing.

K.

nachtwache said...

Hi, here from NaBloPoMo :), I'm one of the over 40 group.
I think you handled it great. If you're over 40, no wonder your son tires you out! I had my kids when I was 19 and 24, lots more energy at that age. When our son hit the teens, I wished I could send him to his dad, but we're together, so we both had to deal with a rebellious teenager.
If you don't have family that will take Jordan for a fun day now and then and give you a break, maybe a friend of Jordan's, where you and the friend's parents take turns having both kids for sleep overs. Then also you could get a trusted babysitter once in awhile and have some alone time as a couple. Couples do need time for each other.
Have you asked your doctor about laser??