Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's OK Mom, Everyone Makes Mistakes!

Some days, for all my trying to be a good mom, to teach, do, speak the RIGHT things to my kids … some days, I still just suck.

Today was one of those days.

Around lunchtime, Adam called me from school. He said he had either lost his lunch money or forgotten it at home, but that the school could give him ‘cafeteria bucks’, and I would send money with him tomorrow to pay them back.

At first I suggested he go home, to see if it was there, but he replied that he would end up missing all of lunch if he did that.

So, I said, ‘Sure, go ahead, get the cafeteria bucks and get your lunch’. He had me confirm with the school secretary that that’s what he was going to do, then hung up.

About an hour later, I got a call from the school secretary.

She said she wanted to give me the ‘heads up’ that the cafeteria lady had come into the office and told her that Adam hadn’t lost or forgotten his money, he had spent it at nutrition break.

In response to her, I said, Oh REALLY? Thank you very much for letting me know! I appreciate that and will discuss it with him this evening!’

She replied that, again, she was just wanting to give me the ‘heads up’.

In my HEAD however, I was thinking, ‘GGGGRRRRRR HE LIED TO ME!!!!!’


What I should have done, was calmed down and waited a few minutes before doing anything.

Unfortunately, that’s not how my reactive brain works.

What I did instead, was react immediately, by sending Adam a message, accusing him of, and blasting him for lying to me.

This is what popped up for him, all of a sudden, in his inbox:

“Well ... now I know why you didn't want to go home and see if your money was there. BECAUSE YOU SPENT IT ON NUTRITION BREAK!!!!!! Don't call me at work and LIE to me!!!!!! NOT FREAKIN COOL ADAM!!!!!

Get out of bed, and GET YOURSELF SNACKS for school if you're hungry!!!!!! There are apples, oranges, and other snacks at the house, we're not freakin foodless. TAKE IT! And DON'T LIE TO ME AGAIN!!!!!”

Yeah. Not exactly a ‘mom of the year’ message. But I DON’T want to be lied to, and my kids know that.

Not five minutes later, my phone rang. It was Adam.

The first thing he said was, ‘I didn’t lie mom, I didn’t spend any money in the cafeteria on nutrition break! I’m sure I forgot it on my desk when I went to get my socks! I ….. ‘

I didn’t even give him a chance to say anything else.

I immediately replied with, ‘Well that’s not what the secretary just called and told me! She said the cafeteria lady came in and told her that you had spent your money in there at nutrition break, and DIDN’T leave it home or lose it.’

‘That’s not TRUE, Mom!’ he cried.

Again, I cut him off with an angry, ‘Well, I can only tell you what the school told me, so if it’s not true, then you’d better go down to the office and TELL them it’s not true!’

He gave me a quick, ‘k’, and then hung up without a goodbye.

I just sat there for a minute, staring blankly at my monitor.

I had heard the disappointment in his voice. I could tell he had been holding back the tears.

What if?

What if that money WAS sitting on his desk?

What if the cafeteria lady had been mistaken?

What if he HADN’T lied to me?


Before even really thinking about what I was doing, I threw on my coat, grabbed my purse and left the office.

I was heading home, a la Nancy Drew, to see if I could solve the mystery of the missing money.

If the money wasn’t on his desk, then … well … I couldn’t really prove anything.

If the money WAS on his desk, however, I would owe my child a HUGE apology, since it meant he hadn’t lied to me at all, and the money was exactly where he thought it was. And I had blasted him for no good reason.

I couldn’t let this wait until the end of day.

I got home, went straight to his room and what did I find on his desk?

Yup. His lunch money.

A big ol’ pile of ‘YOU SUCK!’ disguised as a couple of toonies and a loonie.


He hadn’t lied to me. He HAD forgotten his lunch money. He hadn’t spent it in the cafeteria on nutrition break.

I suck.

I reacted before finding out the REAL truth. I took what I was told, and reacted on face value of that.

Yeah. I suck.

So, I had to fix it.

I turned around, left the house, got back in the car and went straight to the school.

I went into the office and asked the secretary to call Adam out of class, without explaining why.

When he walked through the door, I pulled him to the side and said, ‘I’m going to ask you one time, and I want you to tell me the truth, did you spend any money in the cafeteria at nutrition break.’

He looked me in the eye and said, ‘No mom, I didn’t.’

With that, I turned to the secretary and said, ‘So, based on your phone call, and what you were told, and what you told me, I immediately sent Adam a message, and accused him of lying to me when he called earlier and said he forgot/lost his money. He said he hadn’t. I then went home and checked Adam’s room, and do you know what? We owe this boy an apology!’

I pulled his money out of my pocket, opened my hand and said, ‘ … because HERE is his money!’

She just stared at the money in my hand.

I clarified why I was there.

‘Because you called me, based on what the cafeteria worker said, and told me Adam had NOT lost his money, but spent it at nutrition break, I accused him of lying to me about losing/forgetting the money when he called me.

That wasn’t right.

His money was home all along and he had told me the truth in the first place.’

Without waiting for a reply from her, I turned to Adam, put my hands on his shoulders and said, ‘I’m SO sorry. I accused you of lying to me about the money, and that wasn’t right. I’m really really sorry about that.’ And gave him a hug.

The secretary looked at me and said, ‘I’m sorry Mrs S. I was just going on what I was told ….’

I told her I understood, and I was sure it was a misunderstanding, but that I wasn’t the one owed the apology.

Adam was.

And she did. She told him she was sorry.

She also called down the cafeteria, to try and reach the worker who had passed on this misinformation to her, but she had gone for the day.

She promised both Adam and I that she would speak to her tomorrow.

And that was it. He went back to class, and I went back to work, feeling somewhat better.

I still think I suck.

I accused my child of lying to me, and reamed him out for it, before knowing ALL the facts.

When Adam called after school, I apologize again.

He simply brushed it off with a, ‘It’s OK, Mom, everyone makes mistakes.’

He has no idea how those words brought me to tears, in the cube.

If nothing else, I’m extremely thankful that at least ONE of the good things I’ve taught my boys has stuck.


For all. Even his Mama, when she sucks.