parents

"I have grounded my 6 year old. This is why."

Bern and her two sons

By BERN MORLEY

My 6 year old is upstairs reading. It’s a glorious day outside and usually he’d be out there, kicking a ball or playing some made up game with sticks but today is different. Today he has been grounded. Yup. I have grounded my 6 year old. This is why.

I suppose I should set the scene. We live on a sprawling estate that was once a ‘Lunatic Asylum’. Fitting really. Anyway, as such, it is quite a social place to live.

The kids always find someone to play with outside, the adults, if they want, can always find a friendly face. Usually.  Last Sunday there I was, sitting on my couch, minding my own business watching something vaguely trashy on the TV when I heard a knock on the door.

I got up, opened the door and was greeted by a young couple with anxious smiles on their faces. They launched into their reason for being at my door and it turned out that they believed Jack, my 6 year old son, had been involved, in get this, a ‘chalking incident’.  Apparently a “pack of boys” had been walking around the estate and she was positive that my son had drawn a line, A LINE of chalk on the wall outside of their stairwell.

Fair enough, whilst probably excessive in their approach, perhaps they were right to call out this behaviour. Maybe chalking is the gateway to fully fledged graffiti. Seriously though, I didn’t like that he’d been messing around with public property so I called him down and questioned him. I mean, it was a possibility, he’d been running around outside all day with his mates.

Telling the truth is better than being caught lying

I asked him, outright, along with the other boys, if they had been drawing on walls. They all convincingly told me no. Jack’s ability to lie is pretty poor, he just doesn’t have the composure or forethought to do it very well and usually I can pick it a mile away when he does. Yet this time, I was sure he was telling me the truth. So did the parents of the other children. We made them turn over their palms and inspect for chalk residue, CSI style – nada.

We comprehensively defended our children to this couple, making sure that they knew we found it quite insulting that they’d been insinuating our children were nothing more than common hood rats. We made the kids clean it up anyway which due to their protests that it was ‘unfair’ made me even more convinced that they weren’t lying.

But Harry, his mate, later on that night, cracked. Admitted it was Josh, the oldest one, that had drawn the line. And that Jack had written the words ‘Top Gun’ on the wall around the corner. Tom fucking Cruise. He ruins EVERYTHING. So after I’d gone into bat for him, I was the one looking like one of those parents that believes her child can do wrong. I was just, and I hated this, but I was disappointed.

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As punishment, he has been banned from all electronics, TV and the outside world. Pretty much the only thing he is allowed to do is sit on his bed and read and write.  I’ve made him think long and hard about why he’s in trouble. Tonight he came downstairs for dinner and told me he was sorry that he’d drawn on the wall but that most of all, he was sorry for lying.

Really though, the going into the bat for him was my perfect karma. When I was 15, I went on a school camp and took enough travel sickness tablets to get me high. We all did it, but I was the one that got caught. With the threat of suspension hanging over my head when I returned home and knowing they would be contacting my Mum, I pre-empted the situation by lying.

I told Mum that I’d taken some Panadol and drank some coke and I’d had a bad reaction and thus had proceeded to “accidentally” get high. Mum being as naive as she was completely, 100% believed me. I was a good girl, I’d never been in trouble. Like ever.

So she caught a cab to school, walked into the Principal’s office and told them that they had it all wrong, that I’d simply had a bad reaction to headache pills. I know, I am terrible, you don’t need to tell me. I still remember waiting for her to get home, her walking in the door and just bursting into tears.

She didn’t say anything. I don’t think she could.  I’d disappointed her and embarrassed her so thoroughly I’m not entirely sure she ever actually forgave me.

In a way though, I think these kind of situations end up being great life lessons.  I did get suspended and I was horrified and embarrassed. It took an awfully long time before I was trusted by anyone in authority again. The best consequence though, it turned me off trying anything harder due to the consequences I faced from that one, stupid time, that in all honesty, due to the quantity I imbibed, could and should have killed me.

So even though I feel bad, and that punishing him for an entire week might be a severe overreaction, I need him to think twice before he gets involved in something like that again. And to make sure that he understands that telling the truth will be hard and will come with its own set of consequences but they are far better than being caught in a lie.

Have you defended your child only to find out later that they’d lied to you?

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