Monday, May 5, 2008

Missing: Instruction Manual

Yesterday, my son (my responsible, eldest child) asked to go to the movies with his friend. I checked out the movie, and said, "Sure." When I dropped him off at his friend's house, the father was unaware of the plans, but said it was nothing to worry about; he was sure the mom was in the loop.

I drove away with the understanding that son would call when movie was done. He did, indeed, call, but asked to stay a little longer and play. It wasn't too late, so I said OK.

The phone call I received from the mom later, was a different story. A) No adult had accompanied the kids to the movies; The 17 year old brother dropped them off. B) She was unaware that the kids had come back to her house; She thought the 17 year old had brought my son home.

I was LIVID! He soooo knew better than to go somewhere without adult supervision! AND he was in someone's house for an unspecified amount of time without using the proper manners to even say hello!

Upon confrontation, son was shocked. In fact, son was remorseful. He didn't know 17 year old wasn't in another movie next door. And he didn't know that the mom didn't know he was at the house.
Son genuinely looked surprized at the revelations, and said,
"I made some bad decisions. I'm very sorry. I will accept whatever punishment you think I deserve."...

Well, THAT totally took the wind out of my sails! I had a full-front attack at the ready! The tri-fecta: 1. No cell phone 2. No wii 3. No sleepovers...

Then, I realize he made an honest mistake.

So, do you punish someone for a "mess up"? Or are punishments reserved for purposeful deception and previously discussed infractions?

If he had clearly violated a known rule, then, yes- an appropriate punishment was in order. But he thought 17 year old was "in charge" and present. And he didn't know the mom and dad were unaware of his presence at home.

If I did something that was a "no no", but didn't know that it was wrong prior to said act, I wouldn't think it was fair to receive a punishment. But, I'm an adult. Son is a child...

Am I being too easy by not bringing down the hammer? Or would I be cruel by punishing for a simple mistake?

I guess it comes down to the child. And I know this child is honest to a fault. And I laid down the ground rules- explicitly. And I know he will respect the ground rules.

So, why do I feel like I'm not owning up to my parental responsibilities by not administering a punishment? Where is that stupid instruction book that was supposed to come with the baby????


ThePrincessMommy said...

What's even more curious - what happened to Dad letting Mom in on the happenings? How did teen get car to take kids without parental permission? I think you handled it just right!

Spa LaPointe said...

Follow up: Son grounded himself from cell phone to show his remorse. Love son! Great kid!