My son asked me if I liked his new sunglasses. Being an honest person, I told him that I didn't because they're not my type of frames. Not a big deal. Then, I asked him where he got them. He said his friend - let's call the friend Freckles* - dropped them the other night and he picked them up.
A little backstory about the other night. My son was sleeping over at - let's call this one Seedub* - Seedub's house two nights ago. At 12:15am, I was awakened by a call on my cell phone. My son was calling me to come pick him from from Seedub's. Apparently, Freckles and another kid called to say they were coming over. They weren't invited. In fact, Freckles is such a jerk to be around that my son doesn't answer his calls or goes places Freckles will be. So, at around 11:30pm (well after curfew), there was a knock on Seedub's door. Freckles and the other kid are at the door. They are told they weren't invited and can't come in. So, Freckles and friend try to force they way in. The ensueing fracus is loud enough to disturb Seedub's mom, who decides the sleepover is over, hence the wake-up call. Freckles lost his sunglasses in the melee. And, now it would seem my son has them.
I told him he should be the better person and give the glasses back. Not exactly what a kid wants to hear. But, what I have been trying to get him to understand that doing what is right is what is important. And sometimes, that means doing something we don't want to do. In this case, that means giving the jerkyboy his rightful treasures. A humbling experience, no doubt, but one I think his character could use.
The thing I am worried about is I'm pretty sure he won't give the glasses back. My normal reaction would be to somehow force him to - Do it or you'e grounded. But that kind of defeats the purpose. I don't want to guilt him into doing the right thing. I just want him to do the right thing or be prepared to live with whatever the consequences are. Don't know what those could be. Threating to ground him is basically forcing him. He could end up in a fight over it, could be ostrizised from Freckles' group (whicfrom a parent's perspective may not be a bad thing), could be nothing ever comes of it. But, I can't help but think that he's better off turning the other cheek and humbling himself to this not-so nice kid.
Now, my immediate gut reaction was to bring the name, "Jesus," and his teachings up, but I think that would have fallen on deaf ears. I do not believe in forcing Christ on people, my family included, no matter how much I wish they would come to know Him has I have begun to. For now, I'm trying to lead by example - living the life and maybe they'll follow. So, I'm sticking to Proverbs 22:6 for now, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." I really like that verse. It teaches us that sometimes the only way a child will learn is from their mistakes.
Training a child and teaching them are two different things. You can train someone to do the right thing, but it's up to them to do it. When they face that moment, they can choose to do the right thing or live with the consequences and the mistakes. You can tell a child not to stick a fork in the electric socket, but they may not truly learn why until they experience why it is a mistake to do so.
And that is the struggle of fatherhood. Metaphorically, I've stuck a fork in the socket and was shocked. I've learned from my experiences. But, he hasn't had enough experiences to learn everything. That only comes with time, and that waiting for him to learn. Doesn't mean I won't worry, though.
* All names have been changed.