Tough Day?

26 03 2008

I’ve spent this week doing an internal audit of my company’s offices here in my city.  They are random audits of returns to ensure accuracy, compliance with company, bank and IRS directives, etc.  They’re not difficult to accomplish, but pretty mundane and boring none the less.  Not to mention that they make my eyes hurt after staring at all those numbers and signatures.  The little excel boxes they want everything neatly written in don’t exactly help either.  They went very well though and I was very happy (but not at all surprised) that everything was “A-OK.”

The last office today was located in a Wal-Mart, so when I finished up, I took a stroll through the aisles.  After all, that place is filled with so many things that I really “need”.  I must preface my next statement by telling you that to “not know something” in complete detail is as close to torture as I ever want to be.  Especially when it comes to my children.  So when I received a phone call from my 18 year old son today, asking me when I was planning to be home, it piqued my interest.  When I asked why he wanted to know, he said “something big happened today.  Really big, and I need to tell you about it.”  After being reassured that he was physically OK,  I asked again if he was OK (moms tend to ask that A LOT) and he said that “his conscience hurt.”

I tried not to break any speed records getting home.  I even managed to remember to pray FIRST as I was driving home and sort of succeeded in not letting my imagination run too far down the road.  I was only 5 minutes from home so how far could it run(accident, smoking, drugs, cult, sex)?  I pulled into the driveway and realized that my husband was already home.  I came in to the both of them sitting in the living room with very serious looks on their faces and my son doing everything in his power to not to burst into tears.

He proceeded to tell about an incident at school today involving him and our 15 year old daughter, Kelly and two of her friends.  He said that he’d already told Kelly that he was going to tell us what happened.  That’s when I really started to let the old imagination go.  I hadn’t considered it might involve her in my earlier romp through “what if….land.”

He said that Kelly’s friend “A” was very upset with her today and they had some “loud, angry, words” after school about Kelly’s borrowing of friend “B’s” car earlier today.  BORROWING A CAR?!  That would not generally be a good thing, but not earth shaking, except for the fact the Kelly does NOT have a driver’s license.  This obvious faux paux  didn’t slip by “A” either, but for reasons known only to teen girls, she decided this particular slip warranted a physical to-do.  She in fact stated such and even named the place and time.  Our front yard, after school.

Sure enough, upon arrival of Alex and Kelly at home, they were greeted by “A” and “B”.  “A” exited previously borrowed “B’s” car, and began a shoving match.  It escalated to a slapping match  and Kelly was slapped hard in the face, causing her glasses to fly off and her to fall down.  This immediately sent my son into “big brother protection mode” and he grabbed  “A’s” neck and shoved her against the car.  This stopped the fight, dead in it’s tracks.  “A” and “B” departed without further altercation.  “A’s” boyfriend called afterward to let Alex know that he wasn’t going to stand by while his girlfriend got shoved around.  They both decided however, to talk rather than fight.  I was proud of them  for being able to see all sides and determine that no one was wearing their “thinking caps” today.  Both boys decided that further fighting wouldn’t solve anything.  No threats, no angry words, no shouting.  Good, constructive, conversation.  Quick learners!

My son’s conscience-hurting-quandary was this; he’d reacted violently to violence.  While he didn’t injure the girl who’d just knocked his sister to the ground, he could have; seriously.  He did not regret coming to his sister’s aide, but he deeply regretted his choice of “aide”.   After coming inside, he began to ponder the possible consequences of his (re)action, and they really scared him.  He was very disappointed in himself; very disappointed.  He wondered why he didn’t just make his sister go inside, stand between them, anything non-violent.  He is seriously considering full time mission work and he loves the Lord deeply.  This was HUGE for him.  He didn’t know he would react that way at all.  He needed us to know that he’d screwed up.  He need us to know that he realized the seriousness of the situation.  Mostly, he needed us.  He needed us to be there, to talk through things, to see all sides.  He needed us to say “we still love you.”

Kelly needed to hear “we still love you” too and she heard it; several times.  She also needed to hear that borrowing her friend’s car to go get a coke at the gas station was undoubtedly NOT the best decision she’s ever made.  It resulted in a physical fight with a friend.  It put her brother, and the friend who’s car she borrowed, in a potentially bad situation.  It was a very expensive coke.  It cost her dearly.  She’s now without a learner’s permit, and will be for the foreseeable future.  She is without the same level of trust in her she enjoyed before today.  She has spent the evening trying to reconcile with “A” and “B” and getting assurance from “A’s” parents that charges would not be pressed against any parties.  (Alex was very scared he’d end up in jail tonight for his actions).  We got the assurance directly from the parents.

They both learned some valuable lessons today though.  Kelly learned that doing the wrong thing hurts more than herself sometimes.  The cost is borne by more than her at times too.  She learned trust is something that once lost, will take time to regain.  She also learned that the brother she picks on a lot is always going to be there for her.  He will sacrifice for her.  She learned, deep in her inmost heart, that he loves her like no one else can.

Alex learned that things can go wrong very quickly.  He learned that being a pacifist is much harder when defending someone you love.  Pacifism involves much more than not picking up a weapon.  He learned how to talk through and settle things in an adult manner.  He learned about a part of himself he didn’t know was there before.

My husband and I both learned something too.  All in all, even with today’s events, our kids are pretty good ones.  Not perfect, but pretty good none the less.  They still need us; and today they could admit that.  For teenagers, that’s a miracle in itself!

I realize that I’m making light of this situation (and failing miserably), but bear with me here.  It’s been a tough day.




2 responses

28 03 2008

Beth: Knowing you, and having met Alex, this really hit home. Also having teenagees makes it so real to me. What a day you all had! Alex really is a special kid (okay I know he’s 18) and you and Scott have raised him well. He is wise beyond his years and I’m not sure if I could react with non-violence (although I hope I could) if someone was hurting a loved one. Some very important lessons were learned and your kids are very mature to take the incident to the next level and visualize “what could have happened” and think through the consequences. I’m glad things worked out the way they did, and that everyone was able to learn some valuable lessons. And it sounds like more than just your family learned something yesterday!

You’re so right… for a teenager to admit that (s)he needs you is HUGE! ; )

28 03 2008

Oh, and tell Alex I’m proud of him for talking it out instead of fighting. Has to be hard for a teenage boy to suggest and/or follow-through on that!

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