My little six-year-old darling was picking up trash off the school grounds with her Daisy Scout troop this afternoon when she came upon a $20 bill. It was a cause for much celebration and excitement. She was the heroine of her little group.
And then I made her turn it in to the office on the off chance that someone comes in asking about it.
We didn’t even discuss it. I just took her into the office and turned in the money and watched her little face crumble. And felt instantly like I had made a mistake. But of course it was too late to back out with the principal in front of me and the money handed over.
I don’t regret giving the rightful owner a chance to claim the money, but I do regret the way I handled things in turning it in. I took my sobbing little girl home and held her in my lap and talked about why I had done what I had done, how there could be another little girl sobbing at home right now because she had lost the $20 her parents had given her for something at school, and how grateful she would be that another child turned it in. Then I apologized to her for not giving her a chance to hold onto her find for a little bit to show it to Daddy, and for not discussing with her the right thing to do before just doing it. I asked her to forgive me, and without hesitation, through her sobs, she said, “I forgive you, Mama. I love you.” And I felt worse. I asked how I could make it up to her.
We had a good afternoon afterward. We talked about finally instituting an allowance so the kids can have spending money that they don’t find on the ground, and I painted her toenails sparkly pink, and she got to watch that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa does a science experiment to prove that a hamster is smarter than her brother. She seems content.
One thing about parenting that never fails to amaze me is how sometimes even when you have what looks like a clear-cut path in front of you, you can feel like you made the wrong turn. I guess that’s true for life in general, but the stakes seem higher with kids. I really don’t want to screw this up.
Categories: The Kids