“Mom, look what I got!” Samuel came home from school excited to share his new treasure. He walked towards me and unfurled a shiny white shirt. “I got it in lost and found at school today.” He opened up the collar so I could see the name brand tag. “It’s under armor. Isn’t it cool?”
“Is that your shirt?” I was confused. Samuel was our most forgetful child so it wouldn’t be past the possibilities that he lost his own shirt without telling me– then found it and wanted to share his relief and excitement.
But, that wasn’t the case.
I asked again, “Samuel, is that your shirt?”
“No, it’s not mine. But, it was in lost and found. So I brought it home.” He smiled.
“Son, that isn’t your shirt to bring home.” I was shocked he thought it was okay. “That shirt belongs to someone else. Lost and Found is called LOST AND FOUND not FIND AND KEEP.”
“But, Mom, you’re the one who used to take us to lost and found to get clothes. Don’t you remember?”
Que the screeching breaks.
I knew exactly what he was talking about. Allow me to explain…or justify…or just plead my case.
Years ago, when my high school freshman was a third-grader he lost his new Christmas jacket. I believe he wore it a total of two days before it was lost forever. I was not happy. I told him to go and check the lost and found. He came home still with no jacket. I called the school and went to check myself.
Still no jacket.
Their grammar school had a policy of placing the lost and found clothes outside in boxes and even hanging on the chain link fence so parents who worked could come by after hours to check for lost items. The day I came looking for Samuel’s jacket the school secretary told me, “We’re donating the lost and found clothes on Monday, so make sure you come before then to check again.”
So, I did.
On Sunday evening.
Knowing that all the clothes in lost and found were going to Goodwill, I took it upon myself to grab my son another unclaimed Christmas jacket that I’m sure a mom somewhere was mourning…and maybe I took a few school sweatshirts without names or phone numbers inside.
And, maybe one baseball cap–or two.
To replace all the ones my own kids had left behind over the years.
Have I justified it enough?
Six years later, the parable of the sower came to mind as my now six-foot son was holding a “really cool” and “really expensive” shirt I would never ever buy him.
My mind raced. What have I done? What seeds have I planted? Would he be stealing hubcaps by his senior year? Thou shalt not steal…I taught him that one! Am I to blame for his future of crime? Oh, Lord, will my son become a Kevin Buckman?
Here’s the Truth
While our “Lost and Found” incident is not a capitol offense, it brings to mind two things.
- My kids are watching me. The life I model before them makes a difference. What they see me
stealdo today–I just may see them do tomorrow. A sobering thought, don’t you think?
- My bad choice can’t be their excuse for a bad choice. This one hits home hardest when you have teenagers. They like to use the excuse, “But, you did it when you were my age.” Try again, teenager. Just because I did it is not your excuse to make the same mistake. Don’t fall for it, mom.
Decisions I made as a mom years ago have their way of coming back to bite me. But, that’s where communication with your child is important. I shared with Samuel, “You’re right. I do remember taking clothes from Lost and Found. It may not have been my best choice, but I know your excuse for finding a “cool under armor shirt” is not the best choice now. Take it back to school tomorrow.”
What are you modeling for your children today? Do you sneak candy into the movies? Do you cut people off on the freeway? Or, maybe you lie on your taxes every year? I can promise you this– no matter how small of an infraction you think it is you will see it again in your children’s behavior. Take a minute and think about what I’ve been stewing on all day: when God gives us kids to mold and shape, we need to take that job seriously.
For good or for bad, we will harvest what we plant, more than we plant, later than we plant. – Rebecca Lusignolo