Friday, February 5, 2010

Walking the right path

Bradley was involved in an incident on Monday that I have been hesitant to write about because its not something that I ever wanted to admit my child had been involved in. But I have felt the need to write about it just to put it into perspective, and to show that even a child who is brought up with values and the knowledge of right and wrong, can make the decision to be involved in wrongdoing.
I had arranged to collect Brad from school in the afternoon and then dash down to the municipal offices to try again and connect the electrical meter that I have been trying to get connected for some time. Bradley asked to be dropped at the local shop after which he was going to walk to his cousin, R's flat. While I was sitting in the queue at the electricity department, I messaged cousin R that Bradley was coming round and asked him to let me know that he had got there, which he did. I finished up at the municipality after about half an hour and then drove to the ATM. While I was trying to draw money, I received a phone call from the manager at the same shop where I had left Brad earlier. I came to understand that they had caught Bradley and his cousin shoplifting two slabs of chocolate from the shop.
I was so stressed that I cancelled the ATM transaction, jumped in my car and zoomed off to deal with this horrible situation. In the back office behind the tills, Bradley was sitting in tears, cousin R standing with a deadpan expression on his face and the manager standing with the 'loot'. I took off at Bradley giving him the lecture of his life. He was dressed in his school pants but had changed into one of his teeshirts and his cousin's hoody jacket. The manager has known me for years and didn't want to take it further. He was very fatherly about the whole thing merely saying that Brad had been caught for a reason, because he was not meant to get away with stealing and become a criminal, and he had just wanted me to know about it.
Now I was and am still, understandably I feel, upset that this has blighted my child's life. I just feel that he was involved in something that he wouldn't naturally have an inclination to do. Cousin R is rather spoilt and get up to naughtiness all the time. He had only been at his cousin for half an hour when they were inexplicably back at the shop and shoplifting! Very very strange. The boys had already left the shop when the manager, alerted by another shopper, chased after them in his bakkie. Bradley tried to 'escape' from the manager but was rounded up and taken back to face the music. Apparently, it came out later that there had also been a half litre of coca cola pilfered which fell down and rolled away, unseen by the manager. I really feel that Bradley was 'encouraged' to indulge in the shoplifting and complied out of bravado or a desire to prove his 'courage' or whatever to his cousin, who at all times acted like the innocent although the manager also said to him "why didn't you stop him from doing that". Why indeed - because he stood to benefit without being blamed. The perfect setup.
That by no means excuses Brad from what he did but I believe that the shock of the whole incident will serve as a deterrent.
I have spoken about the incident a couple of times this week but he just becomes serious and says "stop it mom" as if he wants to erase the whole incident from his memory. What child gets through childhood, puberty or teenagehood without being involved in something illegal or dangerous or petty or mean. That child must surely be in the minority. The turning point lies in how the parent handles the incident and how the child or young person uses the particular incident to redirect their actions or words.
Forgiveness is the key and being able to look past the nastiness of the incident to see the person beyond who has made a mistake and wants to move on in the right direction this time.


  1. Ah Brad.... welcome to decision making young lad! I think it is so good that you openly chastised him and did not sweep the problem under the mat but also showed him that he need not kill himself over this and that he needs to learn from it but can still go on and not be ashamed forever.
    The cousin sounds like a nasty piece of meat?!
    Wishing you a relaxing uneventful weekend sans coke and choccies obtained in illegal ways - ha ha ha

  2. You're right about what you said, all children go through this. Myself included. He tells you to 'stop it' because he's embarrassed and angry with himself. You did the right thing and you handled it really well. You said you were hesitant to write this but you have no reason to be. He sounds like a good kid.

  3. What a sensible shopkeeper. One of my daughters shoplifted. The first we knew was when a policeman came to the door. He explained that they weren't going to take it any further but asked our permission to lecture her and explain that we would have to bring her to the station within the week and they would decide whether or not to prosecute. She was so scare. We duly took her to the station and she was given another lecture. It did the job and she straightened herself up. Those were the days before PC when common sense prevailed!

  4. Yay...I found somebody who is "real" about life.

    Shin up...stay strong:)


  5. Forever - I don't drag out the punishment longer than I need to. As long as my child gets the message then I stop lecturing. Sometimes its hard to make the right decision with your cousin pressurising you to do the wrong thing.

    Griever - He is a good kid but obviously as a teenager he is headstrong and sometimes teenagers think they can get away with things. I always have said to my teens that they might think they are getting away with something but I will always find out. Mom, the all-seeing eye.:)

    Retired - As bad as it is to go through something like what Brad and your daughter have been through, with being caught, its very necessary to get a jolt like that to prevent the problem from recurring.

    Lynette - I'm as real as I can be in an unreal world. Welcome!

  6. Well, this just shows me that the challenges of motherhood are only just beginning for me!