My car got egged on April Fool’s Day. I'm not sure if the date had any significance or if it was just an act of delinquency on a typical Friday night. I surveyed my neighbors and learned that a few of them spent their Saturday morning at the car wash as well. Because there was no permanent damage, neither my neighbors nor I filed a police report.
Upon returning to work on Monday I received a letter of appreciation for two of our officers from a citizen that had been forwarded to me from the Chief. I settled in with my cup of java in eager anticipation to read the compliments bestowed on Aurora's Finest. The letter was from a mother who praised the way our officers handled her teen aged son who had been caught "egging" cars with his friends the previous Friday night.
GASP! Were these the same culprits who chucked perfectly good eggs at my perfectly clean car? I started to relive my emotions when I walked outside and discovered the gooey mess and secretly scolded myself for not filing the police report on Saturday morning. The boys were caught in the adjacent subdivision so there was little disputing these were the same offenders.
After my blood pressure dropped a bit, I continued reading the letter. My mood shifted as I read the emotional words of a mother who was mortified by the actions of her child and very eloquently described the scenario for which the police officers caught her son and his friends. The boys were handcuffed and detained while the officers collected statements from witnesses and victims which is a standard procedure.
The victims of the damage opted not to press charges because the boys had never been in trouble. In a refreshing shift from the norm, the offending teens apologized to each person with humility and sincerity. The police officers (according to mom) used the incident as an opportunity to mentor the kids about the consequences of their actions and what a felony criminal damage conviction would do to their future when it came to applying for colleges and jobs. They reiterated that one bad choice can alter a future in a moment’s time.
My anger dissipated as I read the "sentence" imparted by the boy’s mother. He was required to pay for each of the cars to get washed and his ultimate consequence was that his car (used in the commission of the crime) was to be taken away and subsequently sold.
Because I have children who will be of driving age in less than three years, I empathized with the plight of this mother and the feeling that her child should be punished but relieved that it was going to be by her and not a judge or jury. I often tell my children that my wrath will be far worse than what they will incur from a school official or the law and I detected that the mother who wrote shared the same philosophy.
I'm grateful to the mother for writing to the Chief to describe the excellent job done by our officers. Society tends to focus on what is wrong rather than what is right and it's refreshing to see that someone is paying attention. But I'm even more grateful to this mother for having the courage to shine a spotlight on her son’s actions rather than trying to defend him or displace her anger and ridicule the police for doing their jobs. It is our natural instinct to protect our children when they do something wrong but we must acknowledge objectively when they do and apply consequences. That is good parenting.
Judging from the officers’ described remorse of the boy; I surmise that the harshest punishment of all was knowing that he disappointed his mom.