Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lessons Learned

One of the things we love most about our house is the huge soccer sized front yard we have. It is so much fun to let the kids run wild and free. Right now things are even better with the leaves off the tree. Their "leash" is a bit longer so to speak. I can see far into the woods and keep a good eye on them from the house now. Today I put Jacob in his crib to nap and popped his bedroom window open so I could hear him. Then I sat on the lawn in one of those folding chairs that collapse down into a bag. While the two big kids (Maddie in full pink princess dress up) played in the leaf covered field with rakes, climbed the dirt hill in the forest with shovels building important kid creations and exhausting themselves looking for the fox den.
My favorite part of the day was watching his thirty six pounds and about the same of his buddy Anthony try to break apart a tree the wind took out a few weeks ago in a huge wind storm. It is laying at the far side of the field still. They climbed on the trunk on the root side and balanced all the way to the top, falling over and over, but always climbing back on never deterred from their objective. Finally they reached the top of the tree where the branches began to splinter off in random directions. The two five year old boys grabbed hold of a branch that protruded up above their heads and jumped to swing forward and SNAP! The entire branch broke and they tumbled to the ground in a heap. Anthony's mother and I called out to them to see if everyone was okay. They were laughing on the ground. Even from all the way across the huge field we could tell in an instant that all was well. The two boys were so proud of themselves for breaking that huge branch off of the tree. Then they carried it away to the left then the right all over the field together. It was delightful to watch their joy.
As we finish cleaning up all the outdoor play paraphernalia and are heading back into the house the Gutter Helmet truck shows up. Ben goes nuts. "Can I watch them? Please?" No problem. I put the folding chair halfway to the neighbor's fence so there is ample space between him and any danger of falling parts falling from the roof. Maddie went out to watch them install a new gutter. I watched the kids with open windows sitting at the kitchen table while they watched the house and the workers. Soon they got antsy and I heard the workers ask Ben what Maddie's name was so they could ask her to stay away. I gave her a warning to stay away or come inside. She was inside within two minutes. Ben followed. The workers were done five minutes later and I told the kids they could go back outside again.
Neither of them wanted to go out again, so I told Ben he needed to bring in his chair, put away the orange cones and his bike. He said no. I pushed telling him that someone would steal them if he didn't take care of our things. He continued to resist and before I could win the argument I was distracted helping someone with something. Next thing I know it was an hour later and the bike and cones were there but the chair was gone. I hollered to Ben asking if he had cleaned up the chair. Nope. I told him it was gone. We searched all around the neighborhood with no luck.
Now he was motivated. He took the bike and cones to the side fence while I did one more walk to the pool and back to look. Upon my return I heard him wailing in the side yard. I yelled to ask what was wrong. He was totally distraught. He wanted someone to open the gate, which must be done from the inside. He is fully capable, so I made him to do it. As we went in the front door together he told me through his angry glare and sobbing tears that now someone might steal the bike. Now I understood his emotions. He got it taken care of. When he came back in I asked him what we were going to do now and mentioned that the chair cost $10 and that I was sad he made the choice not to obey so we lost our chair.
I knew he felt awful. I could see it all over his face and I wasn't really sure what to do when Maddie called me into the kitchen and he quickly disappeared. Ten minutes later I searched the entire house, looking under beds and in quiet corners so I could reassure him that it was going to be okay. We would figure out a way to buy another one and I would talk to Dad to see how he could help us do that. After a thorough search of the basement and main floor I headed to the basement where I found him at the computer desk. I hugged him and told him it was alright. No surprise, he was reserved and didn't want to say much. His paper was turned over and he told me he needed to be alone for a while so he could make me something. I gave him a hug and went up to the kitchen again.
It wasn't too long before he emerged with a picture of me and the blue chair. He had written below the picture he had written "I AM SRE MOM BEN WIN I HAF 10 B" in sound spelling. (I am sorry Mom. Ben. When I have 10 Dollars...) Then he explained that he ran out of room to write the rest of the "dollars" and that he made a B instead of a D but told me that he'd give me the money. He had even calculated how long it would take him to pay back the debt. He said "I get $2 every Saturday and $1 if for fun money so it will take me ten Saturdays, okay?" My heart melted. Sweet, sweet boy. He is so pure in heart.
Now I have a dilemma. One of the things I believe in most strongly is the concept of Choice and Accountability. You have to be held accountable for the things you do or you will never become a functional, contributing, quality member of society. Technically he does have the ability to pay for the chair. It will take sacrifice on his part, which I view as a good thing. I just think that $10 and two and a half months is a bit of a high price to pay for a sweet little five year old boy. I wish desperately I hadn't told him it was $10. I wish I had told him it would cost him $5 or not quantified it at all. That's what I usually do. Be noncommittal up front then figure out a reasonable contribution that he can make to reconcile the situation. I think that is why he was so willing to give his money to fix it. He has obviously developed that sense of accountability at some level.
Maybe $5. Yeah. I know he has $3 and that would only mean two weeks of sacrifice. That is enough. I do believe in mercy too, I just don't know where that magic line is. Where will he learn consequence and mercy? $8? $3? Mercy is important too. That is what the Saviour has given us. What better way to teach that concept. Alas, I must think and consider and do the right thing or my child could end up being a leach on society because of this one little blue chair, right? Okay, maybe it isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is today and it is a big deal to him. What a great kid. He's going to turn out just fine.

1 comment:

Anthony and Kristie said...

Just give offer him random assignments where he can earn $1 every now and then so he can make the money quicker.