Saturday evening, when football games were over and dark was closing in, we started our bedtime routine. Little did I anticipate finding myself on unfamiliar parenting ground.
Once Grant hopped out of the tub, he went to his room to put on his PJ's. As I ran bath water, I remember walking in the boys room and seeing three quarters on the floor. Three quarters that Ethan had earned for doing a few extra chores for Brent. As the other boys bathed, I could here the jingle of Grant playing with those three coins. "Grant, are you almost ready for bed?"
I walked toward his bedroom and met him as he was walking out the door. "Hey buddy, you ready?"
"Did you leave those coins in the floor for Ethan?"
"Oh, I didn't know they were Ethan's."
"Well, whose else would they have been? Did you think they were yours?"
"Where did you put them?" The more we talked, the more he fidgeted. This whole conversation not going in his favor.
"In my piggy bank."
"Buddy, did you know those coins were Ethan's?"
Now, I'm here to tell you, this is new for me. I have not had much parenting experience with stealing.
"I need you to go get Ethan's three coins out of your piggy bank and then take two more of your coins out to give him. I want you and I to go in together and tell Ethan what has happened."
Oooooh. He did not like this at all.
"Two more coins?! But I only had 50 cents to start with!"
But he did it. He went and confessed to Ethan what all he had done. And gave him 50 cents extra.
As a parent, I was totally broken. My baby. Sneaking 75 cents from his brother. I prayed and prayed about how to talk to Grant about this more. Ultimately, what was so clear to me was how heart level this act was. Whatever made him want to sneak those coins was a deeper issue than wanting more money.
A few things....
About his punishment. Leviticus 6:1-5 says, "If anyone sins by deceiving his neighbor....through robbery or if he has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely - if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery...or anything about which he has sworn falsely he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it and give it to whom it belongs." I guess I could've gone about this differently, taking away Legos or Lightsabers, but if this rule worked for the Levites, maybe it will work for the Crenshaw's too. However, I honestly don't think anything else would have stung worse for Grant than giving Ethan his own coins.
About his heart. I don't want to shame Grant. He is only eight and is learning so much. He is an amazing kid. I remember stealing a pack of Bubblicious from the grocery store when I was around eight. But the detective in me wants to get to the bottom of this. Why did he feel he needed to steal? Isaiah 57:11 says that lying is motivated by fear. I wonder if he is fearful of not getting enough? Or just fearful that Ethan will have more than him? And the more I talked to him about it, this is what I discovered. He was jealous that Ethan had more money. Hmmm. What do I do with that?
Ultimately, I want to use this as an opportunity to point Grant to Jesus - to his need for a Savior. We are sinful... we sneak, we lie, we kick, we hit, but Jesus loves us still. This is why He came to die. We are a mess.
Oh friend, I am still working through this one. But this I know...God's Word does not return to me empty (Is. 55:11) I plan on focusing on this today in prayer. I don't know his heart, but the Lord does. I am praying that He gives me insight through prayer. I just wanted to share with you and gleam any wisdom from you if you have it. I obviously don't have all of the answers. I trust the power of the Holy Spirit to heal what is broken. He is so very faithful.