A little backstory: A few weeks ago, Connor came home from church and was playing with this little skateboard toy that he told me he gotten at church that day. No big deal, they usually get to pick a little trinket during Sunday School so I didn't think much of it, until a little while later when I noticed that he also had another Sunday school toy. So I asked him why he had come home with two toys from church that day and he very matter of factly told me that he had taken the skateboard toy from another child in his class. Yes, the moment every parent looks forward to, the stealing talk. So I sat him down and explained to him that taking things that don't belong to you is stealing and how that is wrong. He then, still clutching the tiny skateboard, tried to defend himself by saying that he only took it because the other kid wasn't playing with it the right way. Um, still not okay. What made it seem even worse was that printed on the skateboard were the words, "Jesus loves me!" So, as one of my colleagues at school pointed out, he had essentially stolen Jesus' love from another child. Awesome.
So we went through the whole process, returning and apologizing and more talking about stealing and I thought he had it all straight. I was actually quite proud of what I thought was my calm, steadfast and highly effective parenting.
Now flash forward to this week, one afternoon I had a doctor's appointment after school in North Dallas and Matt was working late, so my mom helped out by picking the boys up from school and then we met up and I took them off her hands. Since it was already so late in the evening, instead of going home and scrounging up dinner, I decided we would pick up something to-go from Chili's. As we were waiting for our food in the little to-go area, I asked Connor about his day and he filled me in on how many time-outs Hudson received (funny, Connor never seems to get any when he gives me the daily run-down). Then he said, "Oh, Mommy, I almost forgot I have a present for you in my pocket!" This isn't unusual, he is always collecting random things like "really beautiful" rocks or "gorgeous" acorns to share with me, but what he pulled out was not an acorn, it was a solid gold class ring. A Rockwall High School, Class of '77 ring to be exact. I asked him where he got it from and he told me he took it from Mimi's house.
I was so upset, our one time foray into stealing had now become a habit! He wasn't messing around this time, he went from a 10 cent toy to jewelry worth several hundred dollars. So, I then proceed to read him the riot act in the middle of Chili's to-go lobby. I, in a very calm but deadly serious voice, expressed all my sadness and disappointment in his decision to steal again. I remind him of everything we had talked about before and asked him if he thought it was okay to steal things. He said, also in a deadly serious voice, "No Mommy, stealing is very wrong." Now I was confused, he was agreeing with me, yet not expressing remorse, so obviously wasn't getting through yet. I decided to play my ace in the stealing hole and told him that people who steal go to jail. He looked shocked and said, "Even kids?" Yep, even kids.
By now our food was ready (I can't even imagine what the kid behind the register was thinking, probably something along the lines of "thank God that woman is not my mother") and we headed back to the car. I told Matt that I felt so upset, I even scanned the parking lot for a patrol car to further emphasize my point (I know, I am awful). The next step in our road to redemption was for him to apologize to the victim, in this case, my mother. So I called her up and said, in a very teacher-y voice, "Someone has something to say to you, Mimi. You will never guess what he had in his pocket." And she said, "Probably my high school ring, he wanted to give it to his Mommy as a present so I let him take it." Oh crap. I immediately drop my voice to a whisper and told her that I had not only accused, but judged him guilty of stealing it and told him that jail was a distinct possibility. I won't go into her response here, but frankly I think the blame needs to start with Mimi. I mean, really, what kind of responsible adult just hands over a pricey piece of jewelry to a four year old? Nonetheless, I then had to turn around to my wronged son and apologize for convicting him of stealing the ring and tell him that he will not be headed to jail, while my mother listened in on speaker phone to make sure that I was apologetic enough. It was not one of my proudest moments. In fact it might be my least proud moment thus far. I completely and totally screwed up and then had to confess that to my son. I just panicked and knew he was headed to a life of crime.
I guess though, it was a teachable moment for both of us, and yet another reminder that I am completely clueless when it comes to being a mom. Matt said he imagined Hudson was sitting back there in his car seat thanking God that he isn't going to get first-run parents and that he now might have a chance to present evidence before his mother has him handcuffed and in the back of a squad car just to prove a point. Let's hope so.