Yes, it is!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Major Life Lesson

This post is probably one of the more difficult ones to write as it involves a serious offense that was committed by one of my children.
We have been on vacation for the past couple of weeks.  Tim had to fly back home last week to go back to work.  The kids and I have been enjoying visiting relatives and engaging in some fun activities.  And I, of course, am thoroughly enjoying catching up with my friends. 
Yesterday, the kids and I met one of my cousins and her children at the St. Pete Pier.  We had a very nice time visiting the aquarium, walking around the pier, eating ice-cream, feeding the pelicans, and other stuff around the pier.  The kids seemed to enjoy being around each other, too.  After we left there, I stopped at a gas station to fill up. I could see that Jackie needed to visit the restroom so after I filled up the van with gas, I took the kids inside the station to use the restroom.  Ben also asked for cold water so I bought a couple of bottles of water.  I got the kids back into the van and buckled in and we set off for the ride back to my mother-in-law's.  I got just a couple of blocks down the road when I detected a sweet odor emanating from behind me in the van.  I looked in the rear-view mirror to see Jackie chewing on something.  When I asked what she was chewing on, she said "nothing." I told her that I could smell and see that she had something in her mouth.  She immediately exclaimed that she "found it on the floor."  When I asked what floor (gas station or van), she pointed to the van floor.  I told Jackie that I did not see any candy or gum on the van floor when I strapped Ben into his seat.  We didn't even have any candy or gum in the van(gum is NOT allowed in my vehicle or house because the kids don't know how to throw it away when finished with it).  I pulled the van into a restaurant parking lot and asked Jackie to tell me the truth of where she got the gum.  Was it a whole pack of gum or just a stick of gum?  Did she take it from the store?  I pleaded with Jackie to tell me the truth. She then tried to place blame on Ben by saying that Ben told her to get the gum.  Ha!  Of course, I didn't believe that.  I finally explained to Jackie that stores have hidden cameras and that if I go and ask to watch the video, then I will know what really happened.  Jackie then admitted that she took the gum from the store.  She then got upset because she knew she was in trouble.  I explained to Jackie how her actions amounted to stealing and that it is wrong.  Very wrong.  Jackie knows without a doubt that stealing is wrong but why she chose to ignore her conscience this day is beyond me except for the fact that she has been asking for gum lately.  She really wanted some gum and this time she resorted to stealing it.  I told Jackie that I was disappointed in her for not only stealing the gum but also lying about it and for placing the blame on Ben. Jackie started to really cry and say that she didn't want me to be disappointed.  I had to explain to her the difference between being disappointed and unconditional love.  I love my Jackie with all my heart but my beautiful little girl really let me down.  I admit that I was also irritated that we were now going to have to waste time by turning around and making the situation right.  We had a nearly 40 mile drive with bad weather approaching and I did not want to add to my drive time.  But, we turned around and headed back to the store.  I told Jackie that she had to go inside with me and apologize to the store clerk.  I also told Jackie that when we got home in Illinois, she was going to have to pay me back for this pack of gum. 
The store clerk was very understanding.  However, I didn't appreciate him brushing it off as an accident.  If it was an accident, then why was I liable for paying for the gum?  I realize many kids will try a stunt like this at least once during their young lives but it is not an accident.  At least, for my little girl, it was not an accident.  It was an act of willful disobedience.  She knows right from wrong, especially in regard to intentionally taking what does not belong to her.  The other thing that bothered me about this clerk, as nice as he was, is that he apparently saw my daughter holding the pack of gum and then it disappeared.  He thanked me for being honest and returning and paying for the item. There was no other choice for me as I know that my conscience would get the best of me. 
I felt like crying because I felt so let down by my sweet daughter.  She isn't a perfect child by any means.  In fact, she does have a strong will that can be difficult for me to handle at times.  But I've been so proud of how tender her heart was (and still is) and how she wants so much to please people.  Then as if I wasn't feeling bad enough, when we finally got close to my mother-in-law's house, Jackie said something to me and I very clearly heard her  something about my "d_ _ _ phone".  Whoa! I asked Jackie what she just said and she refused.  She tried to brush it off because she was upset that she was trying to say something to me but I was on the phone and I couldn't hear her.  I was on the phone with her dad explaining what had happened.  Tim was very shocked about the gas station situation.  I talked to him about the language later.  I've been trying to be very careful about how I talk in front of my children.  We do have other members in my family who are, unfortunately, not careful.  At. All.  And it's worse than the "d" word.  So, it was just another thing that I had to remind Jackie about.
This incident really had me upset and feeling disgusted as a mom that my sweet little girl would resort to stealing to get the coveted gum.  When that store clerk told me that all kids do that at least once in their lives, I don't know if I believe that.  I do remember doing it once myself when I was about Jackie's age.  However, I really feel that if it wasn't for this particular "friend", I would not have stolen.  I had walked to a store close by with this "friend" because she wanted to get candy.  I had no clue that she actually did not have any money and as we looked around the store, she saw a toy that she wanted and actually stuck it up my shirt and told me to keep it there until we walked outside the store.  I knew it was wrong at the time but I didn't want to lose my "friend", either.  Thankfully, that is the only time that I intentionally stole from a store. 
My parents' son did (and perhaps still does) have a problem with stealing.  He stole from family, too.  His behavior was well known that at one point, it began to interfere with my own life.  I was a part of a girls group at a church and one time when we were selling stuff to raise money for our group, I was told that I couldn't take anything to sell.  When I asked why I couldn't sell the stuff like everyone else, well, the answer was because I had a brother who might steal it.  I was devastated that I was paying the price for somebody else's aberrant behavior.  I do not want my children to experience this.  Perhaps this is one reason I was so distressed about the incident yesterday afternoon.  I couldn't help but question my parenting skill because I know without a doubt that my children know that stealing is wrong.  My heart broke every time I looked at my daughter last night.
Even though the incident is behind us now, I still couldn't help but feel a little bit of heartache this morning when my daughter woke up.  However, that little pain was cured by the good behavior that both of my children exhibited today. I mean, they were even holding hands in the back of the van as we drove to my parents' house this afternoon and then again when we came back to my mother-in-law's house.  Now that, folks, is a complete miracle coming from my children.  Here's hoping for another day of awesomely, good behavior tomorrow. 

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