Today I bought another kid’s lunch. Other from my own, that is. And it’s not because the kid was in need or just because I was feeling super generous. I did it because my kid screwed up. She made a bad choice, today.
Mayhem was attending a sports camp this week, and at lunchtime today, the camp director came to get me (I was onsite) and explained that Mayhem and another little girl had not been getting along very well. Nothing serious, they just seemed to be butting heads earlier in the day. It happens. But at lunch, a bad choice was made. When the other little girl was turned around, Mayhem licked her finger and proceeded to swipe it across the little girl’s hamburger bun.
<Insert facepalming parent here>
Gross and disgusting, yes. But as a food allergy parent, I was also pretty horrified. Messing with anyone else’s food is simply not OK in my book, regardless of whether or not they have food allergies (this little girl did not, btw). The camp director quickly reassured me that it had been dealt with, and that a new lunch had been ordered for the other little girl.
But Keith and I knew that we needed to have a chat with Mayhem. She needed to know that what she did was wrong, and that she was going to apologize. So we sat her down and explained that she was going to have to take responsibility for her actions, and that no matter how much the other girl was aggravating her, there was no justifying her response. We also reminded her of the dangers that she faces, due to her food allergies, and that’s when it really sunk in for her. She was visibly upset and embarrassed that the food allergy issue hadn’t even crossed her mind.
As Mayhem’s coach came over to check on her, Mayhem’s eyes welled up with tears, and she apologized for what she’d done. The coach scooped her up in a hug and told Mayhem a story about a bad choice she made as a kid, and how we learn from our bad choices. We then talked about how bad choices don’t define who we are, but how we handle them, that says who we are as a person. Mayhem told her coach that she was going to go and apologize to the little girl, and her coach reassured her that even though it might not be easy, it would definitely be the right thing to do.
With that, Mayhem went to find the little girl, pulled her aside and apologized. The little girl accepted Mayhem’s apology, and by the end of the day, they were playing together like nothing had ever happened.
But something did happen today. Mayhem felt the sting and embarrassment of making a bad choice, but she also felt the relief that comes with accepting responsibility and expressing a sincere apology.
As for me, I’m just over here like, gahhhhhh – where did she ever get the idea to ‘lick’ someone else’s food?!?! Who even does that? And then I remind myself of the time I laid down in the middle of the street and let kids ride their bikes past me a fast as they could …
Bad choices don’t define us … it’s what we do after 😉