17 March 2011

Well, Butter My Bottom...

And Call Me A Biscuit...

SPOILER:  Major Parenting Moment Ahead
Earlier this week, my iPod was stolen right out of my minivan...or so I thought.  Okay, sit down and let me give you the update.  Prepare to be thunderstruck.

We are on Spring Break here, and I signed my three kids up for a two-hour soccer camp for the first three days.  I drop them off, watch warmups and am UTTERLY disappointed to see my eleven-year-old son WALKING in the back of the group as they were taking their laps around the field.  WALKING?!

I dunno...the lack of motivation and effort?  I was pretty ripped, and when I picked them up later, I lectured my son.

As it turns out, he was pretty mad about that.  So, to exact his revenge, he "stole" my iPod from the van.  His plan was to "keep it" for a day or so and then "return" it under the guise of pretending to be a "thief who tried to steal it but just couldn't".

What he didn't know (because he'd gone to a friend's house) is that once I discovered it missing, my husband and I contacted Apple and the police to report the theft.

Cue ominous foreboding music.

By the time Spencer came back home around dinnertime, I'd given it up for gone and moved on with my day.  Later that night, I was returning from a meeting, and I see Spencer exiting from our other vehicle...surreptitiously, sneakily.  As I get closer, I see he's got my iPod, along with a crumpled note.  The note said: "I tried to steal, but I couldn't do it.  Please keep your garage door shut."  What the...?

For a wild moment, I buy the whole scenario.  When I inform my husband of the events, things started not adding up.  Eventually, my son confesses to taking the gadget, writing the note, and attempting to plant the evidence.  Well, naturally, I am floored.  Spencer is generally a good kid, and with the exception of the typical "I didn't do it!" here and there, he is not really the duplicitous type.  Until now, I guess.

Obviously, discipline is called for in this situation, but this is a new, unique situation...one that requires thought.  Spencer is on the cusp of puberty/maturity, and he's going to be making bad decisions...it's a fact of life.  Will he really learn anything from this if I yell and storm and remove privileges?  Maybe.  That's why my first thought was of grounding or stripping the video games...but then my husband comes up with the genius idea of making our son call/visit the police tomorrow and inform them of the new developments in the stolen iPod case. 


So, we go downstairs where our son is hiding (out of embarrassment, methinks), and we calmly inform him of our disappointment in his actions.  Then we inform him of the punishment.  He accepts it, albeit rather soberly (as expected).  We didn't yell, we didn't spank, we didn't lecture...but I think the punishment fit the crime.  The police officer phoned the next day, and my husband was happy to hand the phone over to Spencer.  I would have preferred a face-to-face; I think it would have carried more impact, but still, the kid had to explain what he did and then listen to an authority figure order him to "not to it again".

So...let's have a ginormous cheer for Retributive Justice!  I do believe Spencer will examine his actions a bit closer next time.


  1. I think the method you used was more effective in the long run than taking away privileges or screaming at Spencer. He most likely gained valuable insight into what could have been the serious consequences of his actions.

  2. Whit:

    He just mentioned the "incident" again yesterday, so yes, I feel like he's retained something valuable from this experience!