Friday, August 9, 2013

Learning from Letdowns

No dessert devastates Westley

Life is rough and then you die, right?

But when you’re a mom, you really don’t like the idea of your little one being hurt, heartbroken or devastated. We say, “Sometimes they have to learn the hard way.” But if we’re honest with ourselves, another cliché is also true when it comes to painful moments for our kids. “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”

I felt that way just this week. Jack and Reese were attending camp at a local recreation center. After a couple days, Jack insisted on taking his Nintendo DS with him.

“No,” I said.

“Please, Mom? Everyone is bringing theirs,” pleaded Jack.

I went on to explain to him that it WILL come up missing. That’s the case at any camp-like function where there are a lot of kids and few adults. I also told him that when it does, he would take his case before Santa (aka-Granny) because I was not going to buy him another one.

Right on cue as I was picking them up, Jack appeared before me with red eyes and slumped shoulders. Since the cat had Jack’s tongue, his always-verbal sidekick, Reese, took over elaborating on the day’s horrific events.

“Someone stole Jack’s DS!!!” she proclaimed

“You don’t say,” I side-eyed Jack.

“Yes,” she continued, “but we know who did it. His name is…”

“I don’t care what his name is.” I turned to Jack, “Son, didn’t I tell you this was going to happen? I’m not going out of my way to fix this, because I warned you.”

I continued to scold, and he continued to cry. Finally, he yelled, 
“But he’s not being honest. Why is he not being honest and stealing other people’s stuff.”

Right then it dawned on me. This was more than just an incident of stealing. It was innocence lost.

 I know what you’re thinking.  What’s the big deal? You told him not to take the D-S, he did and he lost it. But the days that followed painted the picture. The recreation center took the kids to the movies. Jack was super-anxious about his money being stolen. He and Reese took some snacks one day. As soon as we got there, he asked the counselor if she could lock them up in her office.  Now, I’m all for a healthy dose of common sense and awareness, but I don’t want the child to think he is going to get robbed every time he leaves the house. He and his siblings had already been bowled over by the fact that their parents weren't perfect by living through a divorce. I don’t want all of the fun to be taken out of his life just yet. That will come soon enough. And to see the child-like trust in him dissipate a bit more, was…well, sad!

I know that eventually he needs to learn that not everyone needs to be trusted and to take the necessary precautions to be safe, but I was hoping I could shield him a little bit longer.

There was a happy ending though.  The culprit returned Jack’s DS, and all is well. But it won’t ever be the same.