Friday, 27 January 2012

How does a child become a criminal…?

As I was driving home yesterday I received a phone call from my son’s school.  A call from school is a very rare occurrence, so my initial fear was that there had been an accident.

Noting the concern in my voice, the teacher assured me that there was nothing to panic about, however, she did need to talk to me about my son’s behaviour.

It transpired that my son and his friend had decided to sneak off from the lunch queue, to go back to their classroom and ‘help themselves’ to sweets from the cupboard.

Unfortunately, for them (!), they were literally caught with their hands in the sweetie jar!  The look of horror on their faces made it clear to the teacher that they were fully aware of how naughty their behaviour was.

I have to say I was really stunned.  I would never suggest that my children are perfect in any way, but on the whole, they’re fairly well behaved.  This seemed very out of character behaviour – and I felt very upset that he should have been so devious.  That said, as naughty as it was, there was also a tiny bit of me that wanted to laugh! 

In the past I have always believed that if a child misbehaves at school, the punishment should happen at school and not be dragged out at home.  However, ‘stealing’ is serious and I pondered whether, on this occasion, he should be punished at home too, so that he realises how serious it is to steal. 

I started to wonder whether he equated taking the sweets, to helping himself to biscuits from the tin at home, when he knows he shouldn’t.  By getting away with it at home, did he think he could get away with it at school?  Should I be stricter?  And where do you draw the line? 

I put in a call to the mother of my son’s ‘partner in crime’, to see what she thought about the incident.  I explained to her that I wanted there to be consistency and for both kids to be given the same message.  I was relieved to hear her say that, like me, she felt that the punishment should happen at school, not at home.  That said, she was going to talk to him and send him to his room for half an hour to think about it! 

She then went on to say that she felt that her kids were unfairly blamed for everything that goes on at school.  I have to be honest.  They do have a reputation!  But they are also kind kids, with loads of personality.  The kind that are going to push boundaries, see what they can get away with and test the teachers nerves!  In many respects, I think these qualities will serve them well in adult life – so long as they have learnt and fully understand where to draw the line.

Finally, it was time to collect my son from school.  As he leapt into the car, with a smile on his face, I realised that he didn’t know the school had phoned me. 

When I told him that I knew what had happened, his face went even whiter than usual.  His thumb went into his mouth and he wouldn’t make eye contact.  I have never seen him look so ashamed and upset.  I wanted to console him, but at the same time, I needed him to understand that I was very disappointed. 

Finally, as we arrived home, I leant over to give him a hug and to remind him that even when I’m upset with him, I still love him to bits.

That evening, as the boys sat down to do their homework, I had another little surprise…

My eldest pulled out a form for me to sign.  Apparently, he had ‘accidentally’ said ‘F*ck’ instead of ‘Flip’…. As you do…. 

As he gave me the form to sign, I gave him ‘the look’ and he smirked at me!  His little brother started to roar with laughter! 

I know that kids know all the swear words these days.  They learn them at school!  And I know that he is fully aware that it’s totally inappropriate. 

Finally, as I put the kids to bed, I gave the little one a hug.  I asked him to promise that he would never steal again – and I’m sure that he won’t.  And I told the big one not to swear again…  but I’m sure that he will…!

1 comment:

  1. I can relate a lot to this one, having two boys, the older one was always a bit of a challenge going through school. When he was about 6 a Mum approached me in the playground (she is quite a spiteful kind of person) but anyway she came up to me and said "I think you ought to know, Laura has decided NOT to join Alex's "swearing out loud" club". I was mortified and wanted the playground to open up and swallow me. Of course later we tackled Alex about it and sorted it out, but looking back I can't help but see the funny side.


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