A fact of life – sometimes, kids do stupid things
November 4, 2015
Halloween seems designed to remind us of long-forgotten friends, costumes, and incidents. We adults can forget just how special Halloween is for children, though just a few minutes in Mill Creek last Saturday night prompted a wave of memories for me: favorite costumes, parties of the delightful and disastrous types, and candy, candy, candy. Some things appear never to change!
When my brothers and I were young, we had terrible teeth. "Terrible" in the sense that they were soft and cavity prone. Recognizing that no sugar at all was likely going to be an insurmountable challenge, our dentist advised our parents to limit sugar consumption to one day each week: Saturday, usually, or the day after Halloween.
We could eat as much candy as we wanted on Saturdays and none the other six days of the week. The system worked well, actually. Mostly, we understood the goals of the policy and also knew that disobeying Mom and Dad was worse than the dentist's drill.
Mostly. Except for one memorable Halloween.
Personal experience for all of us suggests that some Halloween hauls are better than others. My own personal preferences consider anything chocolate to be a good thing, with caramel close behind.
While I don't believe Skittles existed sixty years ago, I could ignore them then and do so now. There was one year — what was I, ten? — when my Trick or Treat bag was filled with perfection.
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There was no way I was going to be able to consume all my goodies the following day, and the notion of waiting until the following week was unbearable. So I buried my treasure. In a shoebox. In the woods.
Two days later, when I snuck away for my illegal trove, much to my horror I discovered that a vast army of ants had helped themselves.
I learned two important lessons that day: Crime doesn't pay, and shoeboxes make pathetic security risks. A little science mixed in with the natural consequences of a poor moral choice!
What is the point of this little anecdote, you might ask? Other than the fact that I happen to love the story because it taught me important lessons that have stuck with me all of these years, I share it as a reminder for all of us that kids sometimes do stupid things, sometimes in direct opposition to what we adults tell them.
Had my parents known of the incident, likely they would have thought the natural punishment fit the crime. They were good at recognizing when a necessary lesson had been learned.
As adults, we can feel obliged to add our own two cents to discussions with young people when they make poor choices.
I suggest that, frequently, our children know exactly when they have made mistakes. Too much harping on the fact from us can muddy what are clear waters.
I've always found it helpful to dig up my own recollections and recall what lessons made themselves evident on their own.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.
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