Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The long, hot weekend...

We spent the weekend at the ball park. Surprise, surprise. Summer didn't just peek his head out from the covers... he jumped out of bed and started a party. The heat and humidity were comparable to a July afternoon, and my body was in shock. Our team played four games on Saturday - yes, four. We were lucky enough this weekend to play at Veteran's Park in Alabaster where David happened to play tee ball and which happens to be mere minutes from the house.

Veteran's Park also happens to permit the Kona Ice truck to come in and park for the day. I don't know if any of you are familiar with Kona Ice. It's not your average ice cream truck. Kona rolls with a Hawaiian theme and bright, modern graphics. Their signature product is shaved ice packed tightly in a cup. There are multiple flavor options, but the most favorite part of all is that their eight top flavors are available on the outside of the truck for you to "flavor your own" ice. Every kid's dream. This is no make-shift ice cream truck organization - Kona Ice is the real deal.

There was no way to have a kid in that ball park and not buy a Kona Ice at some point in the day. It was too hot, and there was no way to avoid the strategically parked vehicle. I think throughout the course of four games we dropped $10 on shaved ice between the both of our children - a total of 2 a piece. Toward the end of our stay on Saturday, Madalyn informed me that the man had given her friends a cup of plain ice for free. She wanted one of course, and so I accompanied her to the window to see what was going on. He indeed gave Madalyn a cup of ice for no charge, and I commenced to tell her not to bother the flavors on the side of the truck as she had not paid the man for any flavor. She agreed.

Not thirty minutes later, her friend came to tattle on her. "Madalyn stole something......." I knew immediately what was going on without another word being spoken, but I was not going to go and make a scene at that moment. I know with Madalyn she'll eventually tell on herself unwittingly. And, sure enough, at the end of that final game, up strolls Madalyn with her cup of free ice (which should have been white and void of flavor) covered in blue raspberry syrup. Busted.

When I asked her where she got it, she just kinda looked at me the way kids do when they realize that adults really are smarter than children. Why do kids question that fact??? Why do they not just resign themselves to the fact that we cannot be outsmarted? Why do they question the intelligence of those who have been here long before them? Anyway - Madalyn really didn't have an answer for me. She stumbled her words a little and tried to think of something to say, but even a five year old can tell when there's just no sense lying. And then she went and threw her ice in the trash.

Had I not specifically told her not to bother the flavoring, I really wouldn't have been angry. It's kind of hard to resist brightly colored flavored syrup dispensed at your fingertips. But at five, I knew she understood the meaning of "we didn't pay for it." I knew she fully comprehended "don't bother the flavors." I knew that she wanted it, she took it, and she thought she'd get away with it. And I knew, as painful as it was for me and her, that I had to teach her a lesson.

So we went and stood in line, for the fifth time that day, at the Kona Ice truck. And when we reached the window, I picked her up and told the teenage boy working that she had taken some of his flavoring without paying and she needed to tell him something. She managed to get out, "I'm sorry." Of course, he told her it was okay and that he hoped she had a fun day at the ball park. The minute I put her down, she ran off and started to cry.

I knew how she felt. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Guilty. And so I went over to her, I swooped her up in my arms, and I gave her the biggest hug. I told her how hard it was to say you're sorry when you've done something wrong, but that you should always apologize when you've done something you shouldn't. And I told her the words that every child longs to hear, "I am proud of you for apologizing to him, Madalyn. It takes courage to say you're sorry."

There are many moments in my parental career that I question my abilities. That I wonder how my kids will turn out. That I look up at the sky and ask the Big Man, "And why did you give these two to me?" It seems too daunting - the task of raising little people. I don't always make the right decisions. Sometimes I lose my cool. But I must be doing something right because my most stubborn child has a sense of right and wrong. I wonder how many children (and adults) wander this green Earth without ever knowing the difference between right and wrong or being challenged to make amends for making the wrong choice?

So, tough weekend at the ball park. Four games Saturday, snow cone stealing incident, four games on Sunday, all ending with the loss of the championship game by one point. But hopefully a little lesson learned in the midst of it all.

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