I know you remember me. I was the mom that walked into your office 15 minutes before the door closed for the day. I had the one-year-old that was eating dirt from the potted plant in the waiting room. I also am the mom to the boy that was sitting in the chair.
You may have realized that the older of the two boys called me by my first name. That is because I am technically not his mom. I did not bring him into this world. I, however, care for him each day and love him just as I love our infant that I carried for nine months.
How we ended up at the Sheriff’s office started a long time ago, but I will do my best to fill you in. At our house, we have one rule: Be the best you can be. Recently, that rule hasn’t been followed.
When taking things that are not ours (stealing) became an issue, we tried different approaches. We have tried taking away toys, eliminating time on electronics, time-outs, and rewarding positive behavior with coveted items. Although we will always continue to reward positive behavior, we found that taking away toys, has had the most impact. In addition, we implemented a three-strike system.
If we catch our son stealing, he gets a toy taken away and we also draw an “x” on the fridge to show that he received a strike. We reset the strike count on Sundays. On Monday, the strike count was already at two. Two toys had been removed and two strikes had been drawn on the fridge. We clearly stated to our son that if he received three strikes due to stealing, then we would be going to talk to a police officer, together.
Now, before you shame me for making the police out to be bad people, I will have you know that we paint a great picture of our men and women in uniform. At every hockey game and football game, we make sure to talk to every officer (and security guard) in our path. We wave out the car window whenever we see police, sheriff, or border patrol vehicles. On Halloween, we encouraged our son to dress up like a police officer because he has always been fascinated with the “trinkets” those in uniform wear each day.
When I picked up our son after school, I was told that he stole an item out of the office. Although, it was just something small, I took this report very seriously. Unfortunately for me, this was the third strike. If you remember, after three strikes, we were going to have to go speak to a police officer.
To be honest with you, I really just wanted to go home. I wanted to turn our three-strike system into a four-strike system. However, if I did that, then I wouldn’t be holding true to my words. To the police station we drove.
When we arrived at the police station, as a small-town girl, I instinctively walked upstairs to the sheriff’s office instead of waiting for a police officer. After we spoke to the attendant, we waited.
During that waiting time, I prayed. I prayed that you wouldn’t laugh at me when I told you our “problem”. I prayed that this would be an educational lesson on stealing. I also prayed that God would guide your words as they had the power to shape a young mind.
You see, I was out of strikes AND out of ideas. I needed a backup. Being a foster parent is so hard, and I felt like I was failing. I really didn’t know what else to do.
When you arrived, you knelt down to the level of our son. After a few minutes, he was able to look you in the eyes. Although you two only chatted for a few minutes, I want you to know that you made an impact on that little boy.
When we got in the car and I asked him what he learned, he told me three things:
1. “Police officers are actually really nice.”
2. “Asking is better than stealing.”
3. “If I do good in school, I can be an astronaut and fly to Jupiter.”
Thank you for helping me as a parent.
Thank you for helping teach our son that those in uniform can be caring and compassionate.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to make an impact on a little boy’s life.