(Originally posted at Rational Jenn)
Ryan's best little buddy from next door was here all day yesterday. His grandfather died and we offered to keep him so my friends could take care of what they needed to without kids around. So we had him for a looooong time yesterday.
Ryan and A had a great time, not even a minor fight, which is good for them. They tend to bicker like siblings, having known each other literally since the day A was born (when we took Ryan, all of 5.5 months old, to the hospital with us that day). So yesterday, they played in the backyard for a while, then spent a goodly amount of time on LEGO projects. In the afternoon, they wanted to play out in the front, which is a Big Deal in Kid-dom around here. I told them they could, since both are trustworthy enough not to play in traffic.
After a while, Ryan came running into the house and said, "I think A has done something that he might need to go to court for."
Court? Errr? What happened?
Turns out, Ryan and A were having a rousing game of Let's Throw Big Rocks, when an enthusiastic but unfortunately wild effort by A resulted in a busted windshield. Of another neighbor's car. A new car. A brand new car.
I reassured Ryan that I didn't think anybody was going to need to go to court over this (I hope). But we needed to go tell the owners of the car what happened, apologize, and tell them that we would pay for the repairs.
Ryan didn't need convincing, but his friend did. He was hiding and tearful and thought he was going to be in Big Trouble. And the poor thing is under a little stress right now, too. I felt for him, but I made him come with us. He was soooooo reluctant--saying that it was an accident, he didn't mean to, etc. But I told him that it was still our responsibility to tell what happened and fix it if we could.
So we talked about what we should say to our neighbor, practiced it a bit, and then went across the street to Mr. Neighbor's house.
Ryan just stepped right on up and rang the doorbell. I explained what happened and offered my apologies and told him we'd pay to get the windshield fixed. Our neighbor had a look on his face that made me think he was remembering his own boyhood, and thankfully didn't fuss at the boys or me. He has lived across the street from A's house for 10 years, and even though we're not close, I think he knows that we're all nice people. :o)
I asked the boys if they had anything to say to Mr. Neighbor and Ryan looked him right in the eye and said "We're sorry we broke the window and we'll pay you back."
I can't even express how proud I was of him in that moment. He was so . . . unafraid. And truly sorry. And not just because he's going to use his own money to help get the windshield fixed.
When we talked about it later last night, right before bed, I told him how proud I was that he did the right thing. And he told me, "At first, after it happened, I thought the right thing to do was to run and hide. So that's what I did. And A ran and hid with me. But then I thought, 'No, the right thing to do is tell someone what happened.' So I came and told you. And I'm glad, because I want to do the Right Thing." Music to my ears.
I really am sorry that Mr. Neighbor's windshield got broken, but I am so glad in a way that Ryan had this experience. I think I handled it well and Mr. Neighbor was cool--irritated, sure, but you never know if someone's going to have a temper about such things. This incident--and the feeling he got from doing the Right Thing--will be something Ryan remembers for a long time.
Needless to say, they'll be playing in the backyard (where it's easier for me to watch them) for a while. And . . . court? Where in the world does he pick these things up?