Jolted from my silence by the interruption of the telephone, I heard Linda’s voice on the other end. “Debbie, please walk me through this. I’m scared! Jeremy is in trouble. I don’t know what to do! Can you come over right away and walk me through this? Hurry, the police are expecting me.”
Without thinking twice, I ran across the street to console my friend. “Linda, how can I help?”
“Just help me think! I’ve never dealt with anything like this! The police just called to tell me that Jeremy is being held in security. He was caught stealing something! They want me to come right away. How can this be? Not, Jeremy!”
As tears streamed down her face, I reached for her hands to help keep her from shaking. Quietly, I encouraged her to sit down a few minutes. “Linda, tell me everything you know.”
“That’s it. Just that they say they are holding Jeremy down at the shopping center for stealing!”
“Is this something you would ever have expected from Jeremy?”
“No! Of course not!”
“Why not?” I responded.
“Of all my kids, Jeremy is the last one I would expect. He’s doing great in school, almost all A’s, and I really like his friends. It just doesn’t make any sense. He’s got money in the bank from working last summer. Why would he need to steel something?”
“Has anything been different lately?”
“No, I don’t think so.” She mumbled. “What would he possibly want to steal? Oh my… he is getting pretty serious with his girlfriend. Surely he wouldn’t be stealing…you know, something he might be too embarrassed to buy!”
As Linda’s mind started heading toward all those unthinkable possibilities of what Jeremy might have stolen and how embarrassed she might be when she got to the store, I gave her a hug and offered up a quick prayer.
“Linda, look at me. When my mind starts taking me to places I know I shouldn’t go, I try to remember a scripture verse. The one from Philippians 4:8 is a good one. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
” The truth here,” I continued, ” is that Jeremy is a good kid! Now it is up to you to be a strong mom for him. You can’t go in there crying or getting angry. This isn’t about you, it is about him. He’s a good kid who has done a stupid thing. We’ve all done stupid stuff in our lives; just focus on what you know to be true. Jeremy is a great kid and you are a strong mom! You can do this. Go be there for your son!”
As she drove down the street, I knew I’d be on my knees in her behalf during the next hour.
Later that evening Linda dropped by with a smile on her face, “Debbie, you were right. Jeremy is a good kid who did a stupid thing.”
As she shared the details of the afternoon with the police and Jeremy, she seemed content with how the experience had turned out. “You wouldn’t have believed it. As we were leaving, the police officer looked at me and told me what a great son I had. Luckily, he doesn’t have to go to court, but he will have to pay a fine. Jeremy managed to redeem himself with the officer even after he did such a stupid thing. I felt sorry for him. I could tell he was really scared…and repentant. I’m glad I was there for him.”
“Linda, how did you respond to Jeremy when you got there?”
“It had to have been God! I just went in and calmly asked what happened. Even when Jeremy and I were walking to the car, I just kept silent. I let him talk.”
“Wow! What restraint you must have exhibited!”
“The crazy thing about the whole thing is that he actually took something he had sold in a yard sale last summer.”
“What? I don’t get it.”
“Seems his girlfriend’s little brother was into the same card game Jeremy used to be into when he was that age. Jeremy was wishing he still had his collection to give to him. Said he was having a hard time paying for something he had just given away. Jeremy remembered opening the box in the store but the rest is a little fuzzy. When the security guard followed him into the parking lot, it was like a light bulb went off in his head and he realized what he had done. He immediately turned around and handed the merchandise over to security. I can’t believe he did something stupid for all the right reasons.”
“Oh, Linda, you’ve raised a good kid. It was one of those brain-freeze moments.”
“I know how you’ve told me that the frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until between the ages of 24 and 27.” she laughed. “I think I just experienced that today!”
BOTTOM LINE: Even when our tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings do the unthinkable, we need to remember that their brains are still maturing. They need us to stay calm and be the adult in their life, walking beside them no matter how difficult the situation.
Dare You to not respond with anger or tears next time you find your child has made some unbelievable mistake.
Double Dare You to listen in silence as your kid tells you why they made a stupid choice.
Learning to laugh on the journey!
“Let go and let God…”