Wednesday, November 05, 2014

the book thief

Way back in 2006, when I sat down one night to start this blog as the mother of 17-year-month old triplets, I couldn't comprehend just how fitting the title of this blog would become as we ventured in to the realm of parenthood.  But each time I log, I'm reminded...

This is an amazing trip!

We really are navigating life!

We have absolutely no idea what we're doing and we are absolutely figuring it out as we go and fervently praying for the best!

Because I couldn't sleep much on Sunday night, I was out of bed well before the crack of dawn on Monday, and I logged on to Amazon and bought a new Pokemon replacement book for the child on the bus.  (After I took the envelope with the other 50% of the book cost out of the mailbox before it was picked up. At this point, I decided I'd rather just send him a replacement book.)

After paying for expedited shipping so he'd receive it the next day,  I added a gift card that based upon my discussion the previous night with Henry read, "I am sorry that I took your book and told a lie.  I just wanted to read it on the bus because my book was at home.  I didn't want to keep it, but I didn't know how to return it to you and gave it the wrong person. Now it is lost.  Love, Henry."  

I then wrote the family a letter and offered my sincere apology for the anger and hurt that came from this situation.  In closing I told them that hopefully, we can all take the lessons learned from this experience and grow from them.

While I didn't write this in their letter, I can't help but think that if the father had approached Charlie a little differently, and didn't exert such instant hostility that put him on the defense, this whole situation could have been resolved in a healthy and positive way. Although several people, including the bus driver and the front desk staff at the school who know about this saga have said, "There are some very difficult and angry people in the world. Unfortunately, you crossed paths with one of them."

Yes, but I believe in honest communication!

No one likes to be difficult and angry!

Can't every conflict be resolved with successful communication?!

There is way too much fighting in the world. If we want our children to grow in to peaceful people - we must strive to emulate that behavior in every possible situation. In this situation, I owed the family a call on Saturday to tell them what had happened, so it really felt like we were in "crisis" mode and we needed Henry to tell us the truth - immediately.  But now that the dust has settled, here are some of our key observations:

1. If it took the fifth grader two weeks to confess to his parents that his book was gone, why should I expect our first grader to come clean in less than 24-hours?  Telling the truth takes COURAGE, and sometimes, courage takes TIME.

2. While you're waiting for the truth to emerge, patience, kindness and grace are helpful. As are left over Almond Joys from the Halloween stash.

3. It was difficult to decipher what troubled us more ... the reputation that our son may gain as a liar and thief, or the reflection on Charlie and I as deficient parents?  Ouch. Pass the Reese's.

4. While Charlie and I didn't behave ideally, what with us both being the "BAD COP" that destroys our son's Pokemon collection and all, our children should have zero doubt in their minds that we mean business.  While telling the truth is uncomfortable, covering it up with a lie is the absolute WORST thing you can do.  Ah, but guess what?  Once they tell us the truth, we will do whatever we can to support them. The truth really does set you free!

When the children woke up, I told them I am so thankful for mistakes - because without them - we would have so little opportunity to learn and improve. I also reminded them how lucky they are to be a part of this family, because we make so many mistakes, they're surely well on their way to becoming some of the wisest kids around. Charlie and I certainly feel a lot more wise after this incident.

Or at least, we both have quite a bit more white hair.