Saturday, February 27, 2010

Little Man

My son Dylan is nine and a half now. Like most parents, I wonder where the time has gone. He's a healthy little dude: He weighs a bit over 100 pounds, and he's a half inch shy of five feet tall.

He was a remarkably happy baby, and he's always been a good kid. He can be trying at times, yep. I tell friends that he's a lot like his mom, which is to say that he's sweet, but hard-headed.

Lately, I find that I've been raising my voice with him more often. He's been testing his limits, and pushing the envelope with regularity. I've had to more often fight against exasperation, and I've more often reminded myself to take a couple of breaths before saying anything.

One day last week, I walked into the school grounds to pick Dylan up at the end of the day. Dylan ran up to give me a hug, followed closely by one of his schoolmates. Dylan's little friend had a silly grin on his face, and he shouted, "Mr. Johnson, Dylan gave me five dollars!" I looked at Dylan, waiting for an explanation, but he said nothing.

Driving home, I reminded Dylan that he'd been given the five bucks to pay for a couple of days of school lunches. He said, "I know, Dad. But he's been talking about a toy he wants to buy, and he never has any money."

"So you went without lunch?" I asked.
"Well, not really."
"What do you mean, 'not really'?"
He paused. "One of the other kids gave me some crackers."

Dylan's little buddy comes from a broken home. Money is tight, I gather.

I was torn. Dylan gave that money away without permission. He'd intentionally disregarded our instructions to use it to pay for school lunches.

I rehearsed it in my mind. I'd praise him for being so selfless, for going without lunch so a little friend could buy a toy he'd wanted for weeks. But then, I'd gently scold him for failing to follow instructions. I'd remind him that the money was not his to give away. I'd give him a little lecture about responsibility.

We came to a stop light. I looked in the rear-view mirror, and met his eyes. His expression told me that he knew something was coming.

A little hesitation on his part. "Yeah, Dad?"
"You want to stop and get something to eat?"

What can I say? I went with my heart. I hope my heart was right.


Debby said...

For what it is worth, I think that you did right. When a kid is kind and generous, when a kid shows love, when a kid reaches out to others...well, I guess Hal, the question becomes: How can you do less?

Redlefty said...

You nailed it!

Pam said...

And I third that! I love your Dylan slices. :)

Mary Paddock said...

Very well done on your part. Talk to him about not giving away his lunch money some other time. :)

Kelly said...

Ditto all of the above.

Bob said...

Oh my gosh, Hal, of course you were right. I'd give a big hug to Dylan if I could. This one brought tears.

Scotty said...


Algernon said...

:-) Nice going.

quid said...

Very definitely the right thing to do. Nothing as wonderful in a kid as the ability to have a big heart, and not get criticized for it.


Stan said...

You definitely did the right thing. It can be tough to teach kids about kindness and compassion.

He can learn about the cold hard world when

Stan said...

That was supposed to say "... when he gets older and becomes a cynical teenager."

Uncle E said...

I have been one of the fortunate ones. I have seen Dylan grow up to be, as you say, quite the little man. He's a wonderful kid, Hal. Kylie told me the other day Dylan asked if, since we are moving 3 hours away in a couple of months, he would ever see Kylie again. She told me she said she didn't know and burst into tears in the classroom. Of course this had to have happened in Mr Champ's class (if you don't know THAT story, I'll tell you all about it). Kylie is a logical little girl but she wears her heart on her sleeve. She later reasoned that "Well, mommy is friends with Rhonda, and you're friends with Hal, so maybe we will always be friends with them. Do you think so, daddy?"

I told her yes.

Thanks for another poignant and heartwarming post, Hal.

Annie said...

Sniffle. Great story. Thanks for sharing it.