Imagine for a moment that you are busy at work. Sitting there at your desk, deep into editing a television commercial (or lost in a spreadsheet or word document depending on where you work). Your headphones are in and you are so focused that the slightest tap on your shoulder would end with someone having a black eye.
Your phone had been buzzing most of the morning because due to the dry winter weather that the Midwest had and now Red Flag Warnings are an everyday occurrence. That buzz of your cell phone was the only thing that you actually paid attention to. Your partner was stuck back at home with what seemed like a sick child. You were anticipating minute-by-minute updates of his bowel movements or vomits. Don’t laugh, you know that as a parent, you are more interested in these topics that you really should be.
Side note, why do kids always get sick in the evening so you make arraignments to stay home but the next day they are completely fine?
Suddenly, you get this picture from your partner.
Switch gears for a second. Now put yourself in my shoes.
That is green space behind our house! Knowing that we have had Red Flag Warnings, I still asked the dumb question of, “Is it a controlled burn?” Seriously, why would someone be burning when it is so dry? You aren’t always thinking clearly when your home or loved ones are in danger. There are no dumb questions in the world, but sometimes they come out in situations like this.
Looking back, what I did next was probably over kill. Again though, put yourself in my situation and my house was on the verge of going up in flames. I immediately left work. In the matter of time that it took me to get out to my car, Mrs. Rookie sent me the following picture.
Looking back, I should have known that everything was going to be OK and I shouldn’t have initially freaked out. In reality, when I got home that day, I walked back to what is now a black space instead of green space and discovered that the fire was not as close as the first picture had made it appear. At this point, questions were swirling around the neighborhood about how it started.
Realize, we live in a small community that is extremely close. We are still one of those rare neighborhoods where it is not out of the ordinary to see kids running up and down the street with no parents watching them. Dangerous yes, but we all watch out for all of our kids.
As those rumors kept spreading, the one that I was always coming back was that it was a group of 4th graders playing with matches. One of the kids in the group told the others to stop and went to tell his parents. In a matter of five minutes the damage was done.
I don’t know who the kids were, but I couldn’t help be proud of the one who went to tell his parents what was going on. He is the person that I want the Rookie to grow up to be. Not necessarily a nark because those kids get their butts kicked (in fact, I am fearful for what will happen to the kid who told his parents when he returns to school) but one that knows right from wrong and knows the magnitude of his actions. This seems a bit far-fetched at the moment. I am talking about a child who will push his elbow into my groin in order to climb on me when I am sitting in my easy chair so he can watch TV. I mean it is like he doesn’t want a brother or sister or anything.
I do want the Rookie to know that there are consequences for the things that he does. If he knows that he and his friends shouldn’t be doing something, I would want him to tell us. If they are throwing rocks at windows trying to break them, I want him to tell us. If his friends are going around throwing lit matches into people’s yards, I would want him to tell us. If his friends are out climbing trees and we have told him not to, don’t come running to me because at some point we need to let the Rookie be a kid.
That doesn’t mean that he will be undisciplined. Believe it or not the Rookie will be and is starting to learn that. If he doesn’t listen at school, we take a way TV. If he hits someone at school, we take a way TV and playing with friends. None of which he enjoys. Knowing right from wrong will be a constant battle. I know that he will do things that he shouldn’t and there will be moments where he makes me proud that he is my son.