Friday, April 5, 2013
The other day Noah came home and shared with me that a student in his class had written on his shirt with permanent marker. I believe it was to be a joke, not sure exactly how it happened. I didn't put too much thought into it, it was unfortunate because Noah really liked that shirt, but I bought it at the goodwill (there's a reason I refuse to pay full price for clothes for 7 kids!!) and hardly paid anything for it. Also, the mark on his shirt was small and hardly noticeable. I explained to Noah these things happen and while I don't want him doing things like that, reminded him it was just a shirt and it wasn't a big deal.
A couple days later Noah shares with me that the friend who wrote on his shirt was very upset because his mom was going to make him take his own money to give to us to replace the shirt. I was very impressed with this. Not too often do you see parents actually holding their kids accountable for their actions. But while I was very impressed and appreciated the gesture I felt it was my duty to fill the mom in on just how little I paid for the shirt, how small the damage was, and that really no harm had been done. She responded with her own letter but also included was a letter to Noah from his friend apologizing for writing on his shirt. This meant so much more to me than if they had given us $50 and here's why.
This mom took seriously the fact that her son had ruined something that belonged to someone else. Yes, we all realize the child was not trying to be mean but regardless of the motive, the parent understood the importance of teaching the child we don't write on other peoples property. Then she took measures to make sure the child fully understood the consequence of his actions by making him pay for the damage with his own money...money I am sure he was sad to part with because if he's anything like my boys he was saving that for some really cool toy or game! The point is the child was held responsible for his actions. This was not a parent who was going to blame something or someone else but instead put the responsibility right where it belonged. As a parent who is striving to do the same I was so appreciative of this because really I feel we see too little of this in the world today. Everything seems to always be someone else's fault.
We went through a period where one of our kids was writing with pencils and crayons on the bedroom walls. Once we pinpointed who the culprit was and got them to confess, their response was, "well so and so left them in my room". Okay, yes, "so and so" was supposed to put them away in the proper place, not leave them on the floor of the bedroom but that does not mean you are not responsible for the writing on the wall! Said artist was 3, almost 4 at the time and Ben and I were sure this child knew better because we had taught all of them that we only draw on paper. In the end the one who did the damage spent an hour washing and scrubbing the walls to get as much off as they could and did in fact learn not to draw on walls anymore. And of course, we reiterated where the proper place for pencils and crayons is!
To conclude the shirt incident, everyone was left happy. The student was happy because he got to keep his hard earned money. Both moms were happy because there was understanding and accountability and Noah is happy because I'm still going to let him wear the shirt! If only all conflicts and incidents could be resolved so amicably!