This morning, as I was peering into the wine fridge selecting a bottle of white for our evening “Hurray-it’s-Friday!” glass of wine, something lying on the floor caught my attention. It appeared to be Little T’s school planner, but I couldn’t figure out why it would be lying on the other side of the wine fridge, under a box, when it is supposed to be with him at school. When I opened it up, I quickly discovered why. It wasn’t his. It belonged to a classmate, who happened to be a girl. Knowing that Little T has made it quite clear that he doesn’t like any girls außer Mommy (which means “except” in German, but the way he pronounces it, it sounds like “also”, leading to further confusion), I suddenly realized this school planner was attempted to be hidden.
Little T was sooooooooo busted.
Shortly after when Hubby returned home from dropping Little T off at school, I nicely asked if he could go back to the school with the school planner so that the poor girl could have it for the week-end. ((To further explain, these school planners are very important as the kids are supposed to write their homework and upcoming events in them, which is basically the only form of communication us parents have). He nicely said yes. From his account later, it sounded like Little T knew exactly what Daddy had in his hand, as he quickly took it from him and told Daddy to leave. When Daddy asked where the girl was so he could make sure she got it back, Little T informed him that she had broken her nose and was away that week from class. Even more sympathy points for the girl.
The advantage I had, was four hours while Little T was in school to figure out the best way to teach him a lesson from this bad choice. But the advantage he had, was four hours to come up with a good excuse as to how and why it happened. Welcome to the challenge of parenthood.
I thought about taking away his privilege of watching TV and playing computer games in the afternoon before his music lesson, things he looks forward to doing, I’m sure, all Friday morning at school. Sure it would upset him, but would it really make him think twice about taking some poor girl’s school planner? I wasn’t so sure. I then came up with another alternative that I felt would provide a much better lesson.
I waited until after lunch to begin the discussion about why this girl’s school planner was stashed under a box beside the wine fridge, as I firmly believe that upsetting topics should never be discussed over a meal. Food is meant to be enjoyed, which is hard to do when your stomach is tense. He tried to dismiss the topic, saying that he and Daddy already had a discussion about it in the car. Mama bear wasn’t letting him off so easy. As to why the planner was at our house in the first place? Well! Someone must have put it in his knapsack! (See? I’m certain this answer was established in the four hours of time he had that morning).
OK fine. But why was the planner clearly attempted to be hidden and not returned to its owner? Well, he didn’t really have an answer for that. Just a shoulder shrug while his eyes wandered in circles at the ceiling was the only response I received.
It was time to announce how I thought he could learn a lesson from this. Since the girl was at home with a broken nose, I thought it would be nice of Little T to create a get well soon card, along with a note explaining that he had her school planner but it was now safely in the classroom in her supply box. And, he had to choose a treat from his Halloween bowl to include with the card. And, he had to go to her house that afternoon to deliver it.
His eyes and mouth suddenly opened wide.
“You want to ruin my life??” he blurted out.
“No.” I calmly replied.
“Do I have to sign my name?” he asked.
“Of course!” was my reply.
He then started pulling at his hair, shook his head in terror, and repeated “THIS…WILL… RUIN… MY… LIFE!!!!”
After a few minutes of witnessing his fear of what I proposed, I realized that maybe it was a little extreme. I suddenly envisioned the girl returning back to school and happily sharing his homemade card with all of his friends in class, while they in turn laughed at him. I could see that maybe that would be a bit hard to take. But I still wanted him to learn that his choice wasn’t a good one.
“How about instead, you call and explain to her mom or dad that you found her school planner in your knapsack and that it was now safely back at school?” I suggested. Knowing that most kids, like Little T, go to great lengths to avoid any sort of conversation with adults. Having to do this might also be a good lesson for him.
He seemed to be OK with this alternative, but wanted to wait 30 minutes before calling, which Hubby and I agreed to (giving him a chance to calm down). We asked him to rehearse what he would say on the telephone (first in English, and then in German). Sure enough, 30 minutes later, he came upstairs asking for the girl’s number and dialed away.
He obviously had one of the parents on the phone, and after repeating his name a number of times, he clearly explained why he had called. The parent, which turned out to be the girl’s father, was grateful that Little T called as it sounded like they didn’t know where the school planner was. He also informed Little T the girl would be back at school on Monday. I’m not sure if this additional information was exactly exciting news for Little T, but it I thought it was nice that he shared it.
I felt proud watching Little T bravely make a difficult telephone call. Even though I was disappointed with his bad choice, he did a good job in doing something to make up for it. We all make bad choices. It’s how you handle those bad choices that is important.
Hopefully he learned a good lesson today, and that next time he’ll think twice before not returning someone’s school planner (or taking it in the first place, which will never be proven).
Or maybe he’ll find a better hiding spot.
2 thoughts on “A lesson learned?”
T. will learn that his Mother knows all, can see all, sense all or someone will just plain tattle to her. Even with all that, T. will do this again most likely, children are just like that, Bless them. :)))
I agree…bless them! They are good moral guides for us as well!