Why Do Parents Have to Be the Grown-Ups?

Last weekend a very good friend of my older son’s showed up at my younger son’s championship baseball game – and rooted for the other team!!

Ridiculous, right? Who’s with me?

Granted he knew a kid on the other team but, still, why pick sides?

I know it sounds petty but WTF, this kid is in my house all the time and has been since he was 3 – that’s 13 years of dinners, snacks, sleepovers, movies, museums, you name it.

I didn’t let the behavior go unacknowledged – I just couldn’t. When he said, “Go Knights! (the name of the opposing team), I responded: “No more food for you in my house.” And I really meant it.

My husband thinks I’m ridiculous. I think I’m totally justified.

I want to question this kid about his behavior, let him know that I do not approve, and, more importantly, make him feel like crap about his decision. Apparently, that is not good adult behavior and I’m supposed to act like an adult.

But I don’t wanna! (If you were here you would have seen me stomp my foot).

Over the years, I’ve learned to bite my tongue when it comes to watching my kids’ friends behave badly. It tends to have a negative impact on my kid’s friendships. I once told my son that one of his friends was never allowed back in our house because he was being mean to my son in front of me and I thought that was disrespectful. Needless to say the kid never came back and my son didn’t stay friends with him. Apparently the kid is not a bully anymore but he’s still afraid of me.

I also scared another friend away when I accused him of stealing– which, let’s be clear – he did. But still, he was 6 at the time so maybe it wasn’t the best use of my energy.

I didn’t actually see him take the money but I cross-examined him and watched with relish as he tripped over his lies.

I was getting change from my purse for my son’s friend for the lemonade stand that he and my son were setting up in our front yard. I took out a five-dollar bill, put it on the counter and turned away for a minute (literally a minute and I mean literally, in the literal sense). When I turned back the money was gone and the kid was slowly walking away from the counter. Just then my son came back in the house and I turned to both boys, “Did you take the money off the counter?” I asked, not in an accusing manner more in a ‘Huh. Now where did I put that?’ kinda way.

“What money?” my son asked.

“The money that I just put on the counter?” I said, looking directly at my son’s friend. I pointed to the now barren counter. “It was right there.” I said.

“There wasn’t a five dollar bill on the counter,” the friend said.

Aha! I had him. I knew that I never said “five-dollars”; I just said “money.” But even with his slip up, he still wasn’t coughing up the dough. Short of frisking the kid and calling the cops there wasn’t much more that I could do.

A little while later the friend came back in the house without my son. “Look what I found outside,” he said, holding up a five-dollar bill.

“Really?” I asked innocently. “You just found that?” What I really wanted to scream was, “Seriously? Do I look like an idiot?” Instead, I waited.

“Yea,” he said. “I found it on the side of the house.” He went on to explain how someone must have dropped it when they were buying lemonade and it probably blew over to the side of the house.

I was really appalled at the extent of the lie. But I was on to him and I was moving in for the kill.

I asked him what side of the house he found it on and he pointed to the west side of the house.

“Was it wet?” I asked him.

He looked at me with an expression that seemed both puzzled and just a little bit frightened.

“Was the money wet?” I asked again.

“No,” he said, clearly confused.

“Interesting,” I said. “Because the sprinkler is on, on that side of the house.” I pointed (I’m sure, very dramatically) to the window where the water was spraying against the windows at regular intervals as the sprinkler moved back and forth in the yard.

It was a solid cross-examination. I didn’t go to law school for nothin’, you know.

He never actually confessed but he didn’t hang out here very much after that. Either he knew that I had his number or he thought I was crazy (probably both). Was it worth it? I don’t know. Would I want my kid to hang out with someone who swipes cash from my house? Probably not, but maybe it was just a phase the kid was going through. I’ll never know.

As for the baseball incident, my older son called his friend a traitor and they laughed about it. Very mature behavior.

I, on the other hand, am going to withhold all of the good snacks from that kid from now on. So there!

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Nothing but carrot sticks and over ripe bananas for that kid!

    I laughed at your story of the cross examination, way to go. 🙂

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  2. I love the withholding good snacks strategy. It is really hard to bite your tongue as a parent and be the more mature one. Good to know I’m not alone.

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