May 10th, 2012 by Behaven Kids
Monday was a pretty typical day at work. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. I was actually getting quite a bit accomplished and had a few other things I wanted to get done before I left for the day.
At 4:06 PM, my cell phone rang. When I looked at the screen, it said it was our home phone calling. I thought it was kind of weird because my husband and son were out of town for a fishing trip, not due home until 8:00 that night, and my daughter had her after-school running group until 5:00. I figured my husband and son had just gotten home a bit earlier than planned. But when I answered, that is not who it was.
“Hey Lauren. What are you doing home?”
“Girls on the Run was cancelled so I walked home.”
This meant she would be home alone until 6:30 PM. Not okay with this momma.
“Um, okay. Let me figure something out and I will call you right back. Will you check on the dogs and get them fresh water while you wait for me to call back?”
“Sure. Love you!”
“Love you, too. Bye.”
Great. Now what was I gonna do? I couldn’t leave her home alone for 2 hours. She’s only 10. So, I did the only thing I could do. I left work early and went home. But first, I had to get someone to cover my time in the nursery. I found the person in charge and let them know what was going on and she assured me she would get it covered and I headed out for home.
On the drive home, I had plenty of time to think about the situation and was pretty angry with the school for cancelling an after-school event without notifying the parents. I’m sure there were other girls left waiting for their ride home or showing up at home earlier than expected.
Nope. The elementary school my daughter attends is located right at the entrance to our neighborhood. When I pulled into the neighborhood, what did I see? A bunch of girls running around the school. What was going on here? Why did Lauren tell me it was cancelled when it clearly was not.
When I arrived home, Lauren was waiting for me and I immediately asked her why it appeared that her running group was not cancelled and girls were out running around the school.
“I don’t know. I was told it was cancelled.”
“Who told you it was cancelled? Because it clearly is not.”
“Susie* told me.”
Well, great. That’s all I need. Some 4th grade drama.
“Go get your shoes on. Let’s go talk to your coach and get this figured out.”
Lauren immediately turned and ran back into the house to get her shoes on. A couple minutes later, she joined me in the car where I was waiting and fuming about how mean little girls can be to each other.
“It wasn’t cancelled. I just didn’t feel like going.”
To say I thought my head was going to explode would probably be an understatement. I “calmly” asked Lauren to get out of the car while I gathered my thoughts.
The first thing I did was cry. I dissolved into tears as I sat in my car and looked at my precious baby girl sitting on the steps. How could she do something like this? And then I felt embarrassed. What would my co-workers think when they found out my daughter had lied to me and made me leave work early? Then I was angry. How dare she? Did she not think about how her actions would affect others? Of course not. She’s 10. Her world revolved around her. There was only one thing to do. She needed to apologize to those her lie affected.
Our first stop was the elementary school where I had Lauren apologize to her coaches for not showing up and making them worry about where she was. With her head down and tears on her cheeks, she managed to utter “Sorry. I should have let you know where I was.”
Our next stop was my office where I had her apologize to two people for lying and making me leave work early. This one was a little tougher because she didn’t really know the people and they didn’t know her. It wasn’t a perfect apology but it definitely got the point across. That her lie had affected others, not just made her parents upset because she lied. It had affected people she didn’t even know.
We didn’t give her another punishment in addition to the apologies. I am fairly certain that making her do that was punishment enough. Having to admit you make a mistake and personally apologize is hard for adults to do. Ask a 10 year old child to do it and they probably won’t speak to you for awhile. Things were pretty quiet around the house for a couple days but she is starting to come around and talk to me again. In a couple of days, I plan on sitting down with her and talking about it some more, really talking about how our actions affect others.
Some would say that having her apologize in person to people she doesn’t know is embarrassing for the child and could cause more harm than good. What do you think? How would you have handled this situation?