Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Lesson In Honesty

A couple of 7 year old girls got a lesson in honesty today. Here's the story:

This morning I needed a print out of something in Katelyn's school file. So I went into the office. While in there I realized that the Secret Santa Workshop was today for her class and NOT tomorrow like she told me. So I asked the secretary what time her class went. 9:45 a.m. I went home, got the envelope and filled it out, stuck $25 of cash into it and flew back down to the school. (I walk and I haven't walked this fast since my mission....and heck I'm not sure my comps would think I walked all that fast back then, LOL!) I gave it to the principal who happened to be manning the office at that moment.

When school was over, Katelyn had no gifts. I checked her back pack. Nothing. So I go to talk to her teacher. She says that the principal did call her room but the class was in the computer lab already and so the principal was going to have Katelyn paged to the office to get it. We asked Katelyn and she says "I didn't want to go alone. So I didn't go." Figures. So I head to the office to find out if the envelope is there.

No envelope there or in the teacher's box. The principal comes out and says "When she didn't come, I was going to take it myself. But a grandparent volunteer came in to help out there and I gave it to her to pass along." By this time the grandparent volunteer is not around. So the principal takes me to the library to talk to the librarian. Librarian was on the phone......we overheard the conversation. Another little girl had brought home gifts and mom had not sent in any money. So the other mom was making the little girl bring the gifts back. Librarian ends the call and talks to principal and I. They began digging through mounds of empty envelopes. They find Katelyn's.....bottom part ripped apart. I'm asked if I had cash or check in $25. Librarian says "Do you have a Kayla in your class?" No but we discover both girls are 1st graders and both classes were in there at the same time. Librarian lets Katelyn shop since the other child is bringing items back. We head home, passing a sad little girl and her mom on the way.

Not 5 minutes after getting home, the door bell rings. I recognize the mom and little girl. They were the ones we saw coming in as we were leaving. We also pass them each morning as I head home. See they live like 4 houses from the school so wait for the first bell before leaving their home. We live down the street and around the corner so we leave our home a bit sooner. Plus we pick up another girl on the way. Anyhow, the mom has seen me around the neighborhood so knew where we lived when the librarian mentionned that "the mom and little girls leaving were the ones the money was taken from." So the mom brought the little to our home and asked for Katelyn.

An embarrassed and repentant looking Kayla quietly said "I'm sorry I took your money." Katelyn said "thank you." The mom explained to me what had transpired on her end. They had decided not to have their daughters do the workshop since they were done with all their shopping. However the grandparent volunteer handed the envelope to Kayla by mistake. Kayla told her mommy that she knows the name wasn't hers but saw there was money in it and that all her classmates were getting things and just had to buy things too. So she ripped open the envelope and took the money. Being only 7 years old, obviously she wasn't thinking that it would go unnoticed by mom.

This story could have had a different ending. It's very rare that you find honest people these days. Esp in my area. A lot of the parents would have just brushed it off as a loss on our part and let their child keep the stuff. But this mom taught her child a valuable lesson. A lesson in honesty. And in doing so also taught her that it is wrong to steal, taught her how to make ammends (returning the items), and how to apologize for our wrong doings. Big lessons for a child. And though my daughter did nothing wrong, I was able to teach her a lesson in all that by explaining and discussing the situation to Katelyn.

I felt really bad for the girl and knew it was not easy to come and apologize. I let her know that I know what she did was wrong but that I thought it was nice of her and very brave of her to come and apologize for it. I also thanked the other mom for instilling all these values in her daughter because the world needs more parents like that.


Tracy said...

I especially appreciate the last paragraph of your post. There have been times in the past where I've taken an embarrassed child back to the store to return a candy bar (or whatever), only to have the clerk shrug it off as "no big deal." Yes, it *is* a big deal to teach our children these lessons, especially when they are very small. So kudos to Kayla's mom for having integrity and teaching it to her child. And kudos to you, Kathryn, for responding the way you did. I think more than one little girl learned an important lesson :)

noah said...

great story! isn't parenting an adventure??

kirsten, not noah!