Any parent worth his/her salt does their best to teach their children right from wrong and how to handle every situation that they may come into contact with.
But there’s no way to cover every scenario. Some lessons will only be learned through mistakes and wrong choices made by the children.
Last Thursday, my nine year old son handed me a note from his teacher while I was on the phone. Why is it always when I’m on the phone? I set it aside. Annoyed that he was interrupting.
A little while later, I sat down to read the note. Here’s what it said:
Our class will be enjoying a Valentine’s Day Party on Friday, February 12….
As a special surprise, I am asking that you become your child’s Secret Valentine. Please write a personal note to your child and send it in a sealed envelope back to school. You may have to put this envelope inside another envelope so your child’s curious little eyes don’t see it. I will present these letters to them while they are opening their other valentines from their classmates. Imagine the joy your child will feel when reading this secret valentine. Your loving words and encouragement go a long way. This will be a letter your child will treasure and keep for a long time…
Mrs. Fisher :)”
I looked at Noah.
“Did you read this?”
“Was it in an envelope?”
“How was it addressed?”
“To the parents of…”
“Was the envelope sealed?”
I was absolutely furious! This is the kind of thing that I would love to do for my child, and that this child in particular would be thrilled about. But because of his “curious little eyes” the opportunity was lost. My first instinct was to punish him.
I did tell him he would not be getting a valentine from me because the surprise had been ruined. I also told him that if he breathed a word of it to any of his classmates he would be punished for the rest of the school year. (I don’t think that will be an issue as he has experience keeping big time secrets that have to do with Christmas, Easter and the loss of teeth, if you get my drift.)
While I was contemplating what his punishment for this offense would be, it became clear I didn’t need to punish him.
He feels terrible. He cried and he cried. He knows he can’t undo it. He’s. so. sorry.
No punishment I would dole out would make him feel any worse.
We haven’t spoken of it again. When the party comes on Friday, he’ll be sad as his teacher starts passing out the valentines from the parents.
Until she gets to the last one which will be for him, from me.
He learned his lesson. The hard way.
He’ll also learn, or be reminded, that no matter what mistakes he makes, I still love him.
He’ll be thrilled with his surprise.
And I’m quite certain he’ll never open my mail again.