Recently, my kids learned a very important lesson. As I was straightening the family room the other day, I noticed that our globe that sits on an end table between two chairs (likely you’ve seen it on our show!) was missing half of its equator! Someone had peeled it back and in the process had “wiped out” parts of a few countries!
Disgustedly, I hauled it to the kitchen and got out my super glue gel. I glued it back together and figured it was “good as new,” but it nagged at me. Who, of my kids, would deface property and think nothing of it? I am very clear with them about respecting our own belongings and especially others belongings. It’s an important lesson and I have taught it well, or so I thought…
So, to remind me to ask them, I placed it on the kitchen counter with a post it note (of course!) that said “please leave this here for now.” Anything without a note disappears around here so a post it note was necessary, in case you are wondering! Tonight at dinner, as we were eating, I causually mentioned the defaced globe and asked if “anyone did it or saw someone else doing it.” I received eight affirmative “NO” replies!
I went around the table and asked each child personally, staring into their eyes, if they did the damage or saw anyone doing it. I received the same eight convincing “NO” answers. I assured them that NOW was the time to be honest and escape the consequences. I was willing to accept it as a small mistake and move on. I told them that this was more about honesty and way less about the damage to the globe!
Next, as my kids finished their spaghetti, home made bread and brussels sprouts, I explained to them that in life if you commit a crime OR witness one and don’t report it, you are always guilty and the choice to not report the crime is also a crime!!!! I asked again. I received eight “NOs” yet again! At this point, all eight were eating their ice cream popsicles and it was Cara who decided that Joel looked very guilty. Everyone heartily agreed! So, I questioned him extensively, received his continual denials, and then proceeded to rinse the dishes, giving them all a break from the”Gosselin court of law!” I heard them become their own jury as they turned to each other and questioned one another.
Mady spoke up and told a story about something that happened in her class at school. She explained that someone had done something very wrong and the teachers could not figure out who did it so they passed out 3X5 cards and asked each student to write what, if anything, they knew about the situation. This gave the students a chance to confess without an audience. Mady had an idea! She suggested that I ask each child to put their head down and close their eyes and if they knew something, they were to raise their hands! I liked the suggestion and did it… and…
NO ONE RAISED THEIR HAND!!!
I was frustrated and disappointed at this point because I felt like I had a group of lying kids on my hands – something I have always harped against!!!! How could this be happening? SO, I reminded them one last time that NOW was the consequence free time to confess and they could do it now and escape the guilt that would eat at them later! I decided I would let guilt be the natural punishment!
No one came forward.
Chores followed dinner and dessert and I went on my way…In my busyness, I honestly forgot about it.
Not long after I had left the kitchen, I was in my room finishing up some work, and I heard a tiny knock at my door. A daughter entered and in a very small precious voice she said “mommy, it was me…” I didn’t instantly know what she meant so I said “what?” And she replied “It was me who peeled the globe; I’m sorry.”
I could do nothing else in that moment but grab her and hug her tight. I whispered “thank you” through my tears and told her that her confession was “a little late” but I could tell that she had already punished herself enough, so I didn’t need to. I reminded her how very important it is to “always tell the truth” and asked her to always “remember the globe” so that next time she would proudly offer the truth because it is right and also so that she could avoid that awful feeling of guilt!
She nodded assurance while I continued to hug her. And I had one last request: I told her that I would not tell anyone else that it was her, but that she needed to quietly go to Joel and apologize for letting him “take the heat” for her because everyone assumed he had been the culprit. She agreed… hugged me really tight and ran off to play…
No one ever told me that being a mom would be this difficult…it is amazing the lessons we can all learn when we take the time to handle each situation with love! I have a feeling that my girl will remember that globe for a very very long time.. Not only because she has personally seen much of it, but also because it has taught her a lesson in honesty!