Another Life Lesson

I had no blog in mind this week—nothing to share I thought. And then my mind flashed back to the previous week and a phone call we received that one of our grandchildren was in custody—lock up, county jail. Next came the conversation about what shall we do. Our choices were put up bail money and get him out or let him stay there for the next three or four days until the court let him out. Right about here I should tell you the charges against him were not serious, the crime was more of an act of stupidity committed in a moronic moment. We decided the three or four days in the pokey would do him more good than harm.

I should also explain that Belva and I have had a hand in raising two of our grandchildren and when I say that, I don’t mean in the grand-parenting sense. I mean in the “roll up your sleeves and take command” sense of being a full-time surrogate Father and Mother. I will also tell you, it ain’t an easy job and I hope you don’t have to do it. Oh, sure, there are a lot of good times and feelings attached, but it is damned tough duty trying to wear both the grandparent-hat and the parent-hat—trying to decide which one to put on, and when. I do know, like any other hats, you can’t wear them both at the same time without looking like a fool.

Well, we thought all of that was behind us, until reminded by the phone call, we were being called back into duty and had to make the above mentioned decision. And it was not made lightly and without some trepidation. Belva worried about his safety, I reminded her that he is over six feet tall, pushing 200 lbs and 23 years old—and this was county jail not the penitentiary. But still she worried… and so did I.

I asked myself, “Where did we go wrong?” “Why did he do this?” After beating myself up and wrestling with my inner-guilt, I came to the conclusion that we had done the best that we could do. People do stupid things every day. Commit crimes everyday and we can’t and shouldn’t blame their parents. We all are faced with decisions daily. And some times we make the wrong decision. And sometimes we go to jail for it. And we can’t blame anyone but ourselves.

I remembered back to my first bicycle, and how proud my folks were to give it to me. How hard they worked at trying to teach me to ride it that first day—hours of pushing me down the sidewalk, only to crash in the grass. Showing me, time and again, how to get on and supposedly ride away, to no avail. Finally, they tired and gave into defeat, put the bike away, and left me to steep in my own inadequate defeat.

The next morning, at the break of dawn, when everyone but me and the paperboy were sleeping, I quietly slipped my new bike out of the house and walked down the street a half-block away, and faced off with my nemesis “the bike” vowing it would not defeat me today. I would break and ride this wild bronco-bike or die trying. It was up and down for about an hour but two skinned knees and bleeding elbow later… I did it! I threw my leg over the bike and launched myself onto the seat, while at the same time pushing the bike into motion. This time my feet found the peddles and I was riding the bike down the road. What a feeling! What an accomplishment.

When my folks got up, I greeted them by riding by with no-hands. The look of pride on their faces more than made up for the previous day’s failures.

What did that story have to do with me letting my grandson stay in jail? That’s easy. Sometimes you have to let kids skin their knee in order that they learn a lesson. And secondly, as a parent, you can’t learn the lesson for your children; they have to learn it on their own. We are all responsible for what we do and can’t blame bad decisions on someone else, only learn from them.



7 responses to “Another Life Lesson

  1. I know that was a hard decision to have to make. I hope it turns out to be the right one. Good luck to you!

  2. Wally,

    Bravo to you and Belva for your decision, and I am sure it wasn’t an easy one to make. I don’t have the good fortune of children, but sometimes I see how young adults are coddled by their parents today, and I believe they don’t do their kids any favors . To have someone constantly “bail” you out of trouble teaches you only one thing — I can keep being an idiot and someone else will fix it for me.

    I wish the best for your grandson, and I think this experience will teach him a good lesson, which he would’ve never received without your love—tough as it was.


  3. raymondbolton

    I once was your idiot grandson (as we both know, in a figurative sense). One night in jail cured me forever of the kind of stupidity that put me there. Since there are several brands of stupidity, it took a few more graphic lessons to cure me of all of them. Still, coddling would have kept me on the same bonehead track. You did the right thing, Wally. I only hope he’s a quick learner.

  4. Happy to report, the grandson is alive and no worse for the wear. He definitely did not enjoy his stay in the Gray-Bar Hotel! He told me he doesn’t want to go back soon.

  5. My parents have had to make that same or very similar decision several times with my siblings. Sometimes they give in and give them the easy way out, but most of the time they let them take the full brunt of their punishment. I hope this lesson really hits home for him.

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