You’re sitting in one of the front rooms your house. Your child has told you he’s headed to a bedroom in the back part of the fairly compartmentalized old dwelling. “No problem.” you think and set yourself about doing some task or other than wants your attention.
A short time later, you hear somebody abusing the engine of a vehicle. Initially, you think little of it and go on about your business.
Curiosity gets the better of you, so you go out to try to determine what’s occurring.
Opening the front door of your castle, you realize your car is no longer in front of your house. “I didn’t move it! Where is it?” you say to yourself. You look at the house next door—the one you drive past when you’re going somewhere as a regular practice—you see your car nudged up against the one in front of that house.
It’s at that point, you notice your seven year old, Moderately Autistic son, moving as stealthily as he can manage away from the vehicle.
He expressed a strong interest in going somewhere—a place of great significance to him at the time—but seemed to be acting more or less normally when you told him you would soon be doing what he wanted to do.
At some point though, it apparently solidified in his mind that he needed to take action; he needed to do what he saw you badly remiss in. It was at that point, that he took the car key from the place you normally keep it, and set to drive the family sled to that place.
Fortunately, he’s never had any driver’s training, so he failed in his attempt.
What do you do now? The incident may’ve been traumatic enough that he’ll never try that again, but you can’t be sure.
Obviously, you must apologize to your neighbor and make sure there’s no damage done to any of his property. If there is, you have to find a way to deal with that. Where that’s important enough, you realize there’s something that’s much more significant.
Your child may never try that again. Then again, as the memory fades, he may.
In this case daddy bought a safe—one he very well knew his son wouldn’t be able to get into without a ton of work that’s beyond his ability at this point.
What happened, happened. That’s history—water under the bridge, as folks like to say.
At that point, it’s time to step up, accept the blame for what was done wrong, and take remedial action.
You can be sure that the father and the boy had a animated discussion; that he was made aware his actions were not okay!
I’ve found that my children respond better to losing things they care about, than to being spanked or issued any other form of corporal punishment. The result is, I try not to even raise my voice, let alone my hand, to my children. It’s proven pretty ineffective to do so to say the least.
I’m not horribly surprise by that, it wasn’t terribly effective with me either.
In all of this though, there’s a kind of central theme. It is, expect the unexpected.
This is an important thing for one very significant reason. If you’re counting on laws and enforcement agents of one kind or another to raise your kids, you can be sure you’re barking up the wrong tree.
No law is likely to be written to tell me to buy a safe. Even if one was in place, it likely wouldn’t have said, “…and put your car key in it too, dummy!”
You’re not going to hear of a ton of instances where a child of seven—and most particularly not a Moderately Autistic child—takes the keys to the family wagon and tries to shuttle himself to some place he desires strongly to visit.
Once upon a time, I was accused of negligent action. What I did isn’t really all that important. What is of consequence, was the definition used for negligence. Essentially, it was “Failure to act in a prudent or proper way.”
I’m pretty sure most folks haven’t had one of their children under the age of ten, try to drive the family transportation to a desired location without parental consent. And up until that point, neither had I.
That’s true even though I’ve raised four children to that age.
Nonetheless, it can be argued that my actions in this case were negligent. Thanks to God Almighty that nothing more serious happened as a result!
In the end though, I realized this was something with which I needed to deal. It didn’t make sense anymore, to leave my keys in a place where my child could lay his hands on them. Hence the purchase of the safe. By the way, it holds some other things that need socked away as well (my knife is an example).
To put it another way, I realized then and there—as I have many times in the past—that it was time to be “the adult in the room.” I had to take responsibility for what had occurred, and take action to minimize the impact of those events.
This is what we do as we grow older, and take on the responsibilities that come with being grown-ups.
It wasn’t time to have a law written, or for local government to put a ordinance or regulation in place. Rather it was the appropriate instant for me to step up as a parent and take called for action. Even doing that, sometimes things don’t get immediately better, but trying to say, “It wasn’t my fault.” will almost certainly not improve the situation.
Sometimes we realize too late something is problematic. Occasionally, someone gets seriously injured, or even dies. It’s terrible and unfortunate when that’s the case, but like it or not that’s life. Don’t get me wrong, you obviously want to avoid such things occurring. The final point here though is, we must be adults; we need to take care of business. No law, rule, regulation, ordinance or other government intervention is going to fix this for us. We must deal with it ourselves.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.