Monday, October 11, 2010

They all grow up eventually

"Dad," he said, "I got hurt."
I was washing dishes, not paying much attention. But there was something in my son's voice that told me I needed to stop what I was doing and look at him.
I turned and saw blood covering his arm and dripping on the floor. A parent's nightmare.
I could see the fear in his eyes, the pain, the concern. I grabbed him and drug him to the bathroom. My fear was that he was cut deeply and would be in need of medical attention. With this much blood it had to be bad. But it wasn't. Barely and eighth of an inch in length to be honest.
We cleaned it up and put a bandage on it. I then proceeded to ask him what had happened.
"I fell and landed on a stick," he said.
A stick. Hmm, I thought, could a stick really do that. No, the cut was too clean it had to be something else. The conversation continued for a while with him changing the story here and there. It was always something different. Something clearly was not right.
My wife and I went outside and looked at the site where the "accident" had occurred. He had been working on his new bike and was now claiming the bike had fallen on him. There was blood on the ground by the bike but nothing on it.
I followed the trail. It led me from the driveway to the back yard and then back to the side door. Why would he go out back, I wondered. But I knew the answer.
I called him outside.
"Where is the tool?" I asked. See, I figured he must've come out back to throw the tool in the yard. His hope being I wouldn't find it.
But still he claimed the bike fell on him.
"Ok," I said,"go inside."
I carried a bag of trash outside when it dawned on me. I knew what had happened. I went inside.
"Where is your pocket knife?" I asked.
Fear filled his eyes, "I don't know dad, I haven't seen it for a long time."
At this point i was frustrated. I also knew that I had a prime opportunity to teach my son something.
I told him he was not going to get in trouble. All I wanted was the truth. But, I said I would leave him alone for awhile.
A few hours later I went down to his room. I pulled him aside and sat him down. I explained to him that a bike falling on him wouldn't leave a perfect like he had. The same was true about a stick. I said that a pocket knife on the other had would.
"So," I said, "this is you last chance. What happened."
He caved. It was indeed the pocket knife. A knife that was supposed to be put away and only brought out for camping. But still he used it.
We wrapped the conversation with a reminder of the importance of being honest and also the reminder that knives are not a play toy and should only be used with supervision. I could see that he was remorseful, and that he truly had learned his lesson.
But I walked away with something totally different. See, he didn't tell me what happened because he was afraid I would get mad and yell at him. Apparently that's something I have been doing too much.
Beyond that, he didn't tell me because he was afraid I would see him as incapable of taking care of himself. But what can I do? He is growing up.