Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crime and Punishment

a.k.a. Sons and Sensibility. Dads and Discipline.

When he answered the phone, his typically humor-infused tone was subdued.

Dad (pointedly): "Did you tell Darren he could buy a book at the book fair today?

(reaching for morning memory): "He asked for money as we were rushing out the door; I told him he needs to bring up those questions at more appropriate, more likely to receive a positive-response times."

Dad (redirecting, requestioning): "But did you tell him he could buy a book?

Mom (unsure of pending punishment for the defendant): "Well, no...."

Dad (dismissing the witness from the stand): "Okay."

When he answered the phone an hour later, his typically hijinks-infused tone was subdued.

Mom (cross-examining the defendant): "Did you buy a book today at the book fair?"

Darren (answering only the question asked): "Yes."

Mom (impatiently seeking motive and means): "You did? How did you pay for it?"

Darren (succinctly): "I took my own money."

Mommy (with correction, but sensing consequence had already been applied): "Darren, you are supposed to ask before you spend your money on anything. You know that."

Darren (with sadness): "I know. Daddy made me give it to Goodwill."

Mommy (with empathy, but curiosity): "What book was it?"

Darren (with sadness, but no wavering in his voice): "The Legos minifigures book."

Mommy (suppressing a waver in her voice): "I know how very badly you wanted that book. By giving that book away, you are going to make some lucky kid very happy. I do wish you had asked, Darren."

Darren: "Me too."

Mommy (seeking further explanation): "Can I please speak to Daddy?"

(with resignation): "Sure."

Mommy (seeking clarification from the bench on the implemented penal system): "Honey, I didn't tell him he couldn't buy a book...I just told him to ask for money at more appropriate times..."

Daddy (authoritatively): "We had a lengthy conversation yesterday about the necessity for parental consent on any personal funds purchases."

Mommy (with resignation): "We've talked about that, too..."

Daddy (with justified finality): "After his lesson, we walked the perimeter at tae kwon do, discussing the prominently featured posters talking about the character traits and their definitions. He will not be participating in the [once a year, rare trophy opportunity] tournament this weekend."

How blessed I am to have a parenting partner who selflessly applies a consequence with impact, one that teaches a sure-to-be-remembered lesson on the import of following directions. How blessed are our children that their Dad cares far more about what they will become in the long-term, than what we will do for fun on the weekend.

Darren doesn't need to ogle minifigures in a book ill-gotten; he has a towering example to admire at home. So do I.

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Barbara Manatee said...

wow...I am teary eyed reading that. Such a tough call sometimes to be a parent and have to instill consequences to make a long term impact. My lil guy has been having some trouble using his ears and making good choices at preschool in recent weeks, and last week, I had to dole out a big bargain - be good or NO halloween party that night. I prayed the whole afternoon and before I walked in the door that he'd been good so I didn't have to make that call...was SO relieved that we were all able to enjoy the evening's fun!

Rebecca said...

Consequences are so hard to enforce, but he did a great job. Husband is a softy, so I'm going to have to pound this into his head!!!

Terra said...

oh boy....let the punishment fit the crime...your hubby is excellent at that! giving the book away was an excellent solution!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I'll bet that's a lesson that Darren will remember for a very long time, probably the rest of his life. I know couldn't have been easy, but kudos on a job well done. And thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

Missy (Two Little Monkeys) said...

Being a parent is tough sometimes when you have to make those tough decisions but great job by Dad. We were just discussing the consequence of lying a few minutes ago.

Tracy said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing...

Zip n Tizzy said...

So heart wrenching, but I was thinking the same thing when reading it. Lucky guy to have a dad who says what he means and parents who work as a team. My husbands favorite expression is don't try and play us off one another, your mother and I are a team.