Sunday, February 27, 2011

Today's Life Lesson 101: Natural Consequences.

Dear Sweet Child o' Mine:

There are certain things in life that are givens.

Mommy will always love you.
Daddy will always love you.
If you steal money from school,
you will always need to return the money,
write a letter of apology
and deliver both in person

Last week, you stole money from school. While it was not enough to finance Mom's trip to Orland, it was money that did not belong to you. And you told us that you knew it was wrong; that you should have brought the money to the teacher, and that you wanted to keep it so you did.

You initially told us that you took the money in Class A with Teacher A. You wrote a letter of apology to Teacher A. Daddy took time off of work to bring you into school and explain the situation to the office. Yet, the apology was unable to happen because Teacher A was not at school that day.

Curiously enough, you reported each day this week that Teacher A was not at school.

But Thursday, I was catching on (oooo! I'm good!). So I emailed your Clueless-Yet-Oh-So-Boy-Band-Cute Kindergarten teacher.

Long story short: Teacher A was at school every day this week, and you had his class twice. And, I discovered that you did not see Teacher A in Class A on the day of the theft.


Caught in your lie, you label Teacher B in Class B.

But, then you change your mind and label Teacher C in Class C.

And then, you volunteered the idea that you took the money from Teacher D in Class D.

My best guess is that you were trying to confuse us SO MUCH that we would become frustrated. That you were feeling really out of control in this situation, and lying was the ONLY way you could figure out to gain some control in the situation. I think you were trying to take up a lot of Mom's time and energy.

But, my dear son, life is not a game of Clue. And I'm not going to bust my hump trying to figure out if you took the money from the Professor Plum in the Conservatory, or from the Miss Scarlet in the Library.

Your Mother is getting smarter with each passing year. In years past, I would want to pass out punishments like they were Halloween candy. Which would have only increased your need for control. Which would have only then amped up my desire to be in control. Which would have made an already crazy situation even crazier because I wouldn't be able to just let. things. be.

I am learning about the wisdom and beauty of Natural Consequences. Natural Consequences ease my stress. They help me keep control of my time and energy.

Even in this convoluted situation, Natural Consequences exist. In this case, if you steal and claim that you stole the money from 4 teachers, then, you will earn enough money to pay back all 4 teachers, and write 4 notes of apology, and you run the risk of having 4 separate teachers issue consequences for stealing.

Ouch! That's a LOT of chores. And a LOT of writing. And possibly, a lot of consequences.

I'm sorry, my dear one, that you are so unhappy today. I know that this has been a very tough lesson for you.

And while I know that you did not like this lesson, I'm hoping that this Life Lesson sticks, and that these Natural Consequences will help shape you.

And if not, at the very least, I hope it helps you remember the next time you are going to play the game of Confusion and Delay, you remember that the fewer, the better.

Love You to the Stars and Sun and Moon and back again,
Your Mama


ania said...

"But, my dear son, life is not a game of Clue. And I'm not going to bust my hump trying to figure out if you took the money from the Professor Plum in the Conservatory, or from the Miss Scarlet in the Library."

Too much.

Hang in there, Mama Sarah!


Do you find that taking the time to write (and reflect on) these things with some humor helps you to feel better when you next see this particular little dude of yours? Does it have an impact on the way that you experience the rest of the situation? I say that because I have a younger relative - D, who, even though she is now in college, continues to be irresponsible and tries her best to be unaccountable for her consequences.* I remember when I was in my early 20's and D was a teenager, it was really helpful to write to my older sister about D's actions, how D handled or didn't handle things, and what D expected me to do to fix the matter. But it also helped to be really funny about it. It helped me re-frame things, and helped me manage. It still does now, but as D is an adult (albeit very young-acting), our dynamic has shifted.
*What I speak of is not not teenage/young adult ignorance. It is personality-based irresponsibility and started when she was 9.

Sara said...

Just had something very similar happen at our house too :-)

Anonymous said...

I can't stop imagining little Mr. Sneaky saying "curses! foiled again!" while playing with his Snidely Whiplash mustache.....


Tara - SanitySrchr said...

We have a thief in the night too...I just can't "prove" who it is, although I know exactly who it is!

Inked Fairy said...

OH how I enjoyed this post. My "little one" is 14 and got sent to the principal for something somewhat minor, but it was still a trip to the office! And then he didn't even tell me about it! I found out while checking our district's parental access site to see if he had money in his lunch account. So dissappointed in having to explain that a lie by omission (as in failing to mention) is still a lie! I wish I could apply your humor and tact to my own situation!