Thursday, December 5, 2013

He'll Be Just Fine

The guy who works in the next office came in this morning carrying half a dozen of those big plastic candy canes that people stick in the ground for general Yuletide festivity at this time of the year. This did not seem to fit his usual decor vibe, but we still applauded the spirit behind the effort.

"Candy canes! Great!" we huzzah-ed him.

"Not so great," T said. "Yesterday C (his five-year-old son) was here for a music lesson and he kicked over and broke the ones outside the performing arts building."

T and his wife, who are truly good parents, insisted that C write an apology note, then they took him downtown to withdraw his own money from his own bank account for the replacement canes. In spite of these stellar examples of How To Deal With Childish Anarchy, T remained worried.

"I can understand if he had broken just one, because he didn't know it would broke if he kicked it, but he went on and broke FOUR. What kind of a kid does that?"

I laughed and laughed. Obviously I had never told him about the time I Boy#1 and Boy#2 were about C's age.  They were playing outside and I was vacuuming when the doorbell rang. It was an irate woman, one whom I'd never met.

"DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE THROWING ROCKS AT CARS?" she screamed at me. After I ascertained that none of the rocks had actually hit their targets (yup, they have my athletic genes), I apologized profusely and promised I would "take care of it." I was mortified that my children, the loves of my life, could be such utter hooligans.

I called One and Two in and prepared to give them what-for. In the case of One, this was unnecessary. My tenderhearted rule-follower already was in tears, and sure whatever what-for he was going to be given would involve a spanking. Or jail time. Younger brother Two had true regret in his eyes--but his regret was that he had not hit the moving car. No amount of lecturing or explaining that he could have DAMAGED SOMEONE ELSE'S STUFF made a dent in his lack of remorse.

"And in spite of that," I reassured my colleague, "Two has grown up to be a fine, compassionate, ethical man who has never been in jail. You're handling this just right, and C will be fine."

What kind of a five-year-old kid breaks something just because it's there and it makes a thoroughly satisfying crack when it breaks?

A boy kind, and someday T and his wife will laugh about this. Not today, but someday.


  1. When I was younger (elementary school era), some other children and I took allllll the buds off the giant flowering bushes in front of our church and pelted them at each other. An adult came out and was Very Upset, and we didn't understand why AT ALL. It had been FUN! Now I cringe huuuuuuugely in memory of this act. I also participated in a "throwing rocks at cars" incident, complete with irate adult coming to our house. It's funny what a mental shift there must be between childhood and adulthood about this kind of destruction.

  2. I needed to hear this. Oldest has always been a rule follower and sensitive to discipline so it's not that he doesn't do stupid crap, it's that he is instantly remorseful and genuinely sorry when an adult gets involved. Youngest . . . is a different story. She is tough all around (probably from keeping up with a brother who is 6 years older) and I swear there are times when discipline goes in one ear and out the other. She is only 4, but there are times when I worry about her much lower remorse levels...