When you work at a retail store in a mall, it's easy to see the results of bad parenting all around you. Since taking a job at a bookstore, I've learned to despise most teenagers. So many of them are rude, loud, vandalizing, foul-mouthed little cretins that I find myself judging their (mostly absent) parents pretty harshly. Especially since so many of them obviously have very little supervision or guidance at home. When school lets out for the summer my coworkers and I will spend about a third of our time dealing with the terrible behavior of packs of unsupervised kids. We all simply dread the end of the school year for that reason.
Occasionally, though, you meet a parent that's doing a good job raising their kids, and it's a refreshing change. I met a great dad last weekend that gets high marks for holding his kid accountable for his actions....and my coworkers and I have gotten a big kick out of what happened!
I was the manager on duty one afternoon, and the girl at the front register called me to come "talk to a dad" who "needed to speak with a manager". Well, of course I was dreading whatever was coming....normally parents side with their kids no matter what crazy stuff they've done, so after a heavy sigh or two I went to see what was going on. There was a man waiting for me by the registers with a thirteen or fourteen year old boy standing beside him, staring at his feet. The girl who had called me whispered a quick explanation: that the dad had caught his son with shoplifted items and had dragged the kid back to the store to confess what he had done, and wanted the manager to "give him a talking to".
My first thought was "oh, shit"....I mean, I don't have kids myself, I have no experience with giving teens lectures for misbehaving, and I'm not exactly an intimidating authority figure, to say the least. I couldn't intimidate a damn mouse! I was wondering what I could possibly say that would have any effect on the boy. Turns out I needn't have worried. That dad had a plan all along to teach the kid a good lesson!
The man introduced himself, and his son, and then said to the boy, "Tell this nice lady what you did."
The kid looked really scared and embarrassed. He stared at the floor and in a voice barely raised above a whisper, said, "I shoplifted from you."
Then the dad completed his son's humiliation. He said, "Now show her what you stole."
Slowly, never once making eye contact with me, he opened a bag and pulled out...........two girlie magazines!!!! Hahahahaha!!!
At that point, all my nervousness vanished. I had to bite my lip not to laugh. If there is anything worse for a thirteen year old boy than having to confess to a woman
that he was stealing porn...I don't know what it is! The dad stepped away so I could have a word with him; I merely said that his father was obviously disappointed in him, that he had let both of his parents down, and that shoplifters are always banned permanently from our store. (I wonder if he was ever planning to come back anyway! Ha!) The whole time, I don't think he said more than a tiny, whispered "I'm sorry" and "I understand".
As they were leaving, the dad assured me that the kid would be facing further punishment at home for stealing. I almost felt sorry for the poor kid, to be facing more consequences after such awful humiliation!
What a great dad, though. It's nice to see parents holding their offspring accountable to others when they misbehave and/or break the law. And I'll bet this was one lesson that boy will never, ever forget!