Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Helping a Son Take a Long, Honest Walk

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Helping a Son Take a Long, Honest Walk

Article excerpt

My seven-year-old watched me, his face innocent, and I asked again, "Did you take Cindy's money?"

Slowly Ty's forehead furrowed.

I had believed him when he first denied taking the money. Had my loving, trustworthy child totally duped me? Did I want to know the truth?

When I questioned him again, the truth finally came tumbling out.

As his sobbing quieted, I whispered, "Ty, you'll have to take the money back." He pulled away and cried, "No, I can't! They'll hate me forever! Can't you give it back?"

"No, Ty," I insisted, "I cannot do this for you. You must give the money back to show how sorry you are. They will forgive you. And once you do this very hard thing, you will be able to forgive yourself."

We retrieved his piggy bank and what was left of the $20 and headed out the front door. I stopped short on the porch. My car was gone; I'd sent my older son on errands.

Now what? Could we wait until later tonight? I looked down at Ty, solemn and trembling, and remembered myself at 7, waiting long hours for my punishment when Dad got home.

No, we wouldn't wait; we would walk the mile to Cindy's house. Walking the distance in order to make things right seemed somehow appropriate.

The early spring afternoon was lovely, but our purpose made it hard to enjoy. We walked along the old, cracked sidewalk; Ty's footsteps slowed with growing anxiety and were punctuated by murmurings of "Mom, I'm scared," and "This is too hard!"

My impatience grew as I repeated many times why no one else could correct this for him. For both of us, the long walk was infinitely longer with the terrible anticipation of confession.

When we crossed the street a block away from Cindy's house, Ty panicked.

"Let's wait here, Mom. Her house is too close. I can't do this - please don't make me!"

"No, Ty," I insisted as I grabbed his hand, "Come on! …

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