Tuesday, June 10, 2008


On the eve of the last day of school, Taryn had a lesson to be learned. This was not a lesson that was going to take place in the classroom. This was not a lesson for which I had any plans outlined. It is one of many lessons that will be learned in her life. In order to learn, mistakes are often made. It is the hope of every parent alive, that the little lessons along the way can help prevent a more painful lesson down the road. Tonight's lesson was about TRUST.

The Sokoloski Family loves to visit the Pendleton Aquatic Center. The aquatic center is visited daily for many weeks of the summer. All the Sokoloski girls have spent their summers splashing around in the water. There are a number of rules that were established, from the beginning, to ensure safety and a good time for the entire Sokoloski Family.

  • Sunscreen, a must for our brood of blondies.
  • Permission to leave the splash pool is required!
  • Snacks from the snack bar are a rare treat.
  • No dive pool or lap pool without adult supervision.
  • No running.
  • No hot tub.
Most of the rules are self explanatory. We don't want sunburns. We don't want to panic if we can't find you. The snacks are expensive. None of the girls are strong enough swimmers to be in the deep pools alone. The edge of the pool is slippery when wet. Who knows what type of germs fester in that hot tub AND it is often filled with dirty talking teenagers.

It is the last rule that was the basis of the lesson.

This is not a new rule. Basically, if you are too cold to swim, then it is time to go home. There have been significant whining episodes over this rule. I realize that none of their limbs would likely fall off, no prescription medicines would need to be administered if they soaked their bodies, and far greater crimes could be committed. However, it is a rule, a Sokoloski Family rule.

Washington Elementary visits the Pendleton Aquatic Center once a year. For the last two years the weather has been terrible. Last week it was discussed MANY times at the dinner table with Grace, that no matter how cold it got at the pool, that the hot tub was still OFF LIMITS. I reminded her that I would be at the pool the entire time she was there. (Have I ever mentioned that she is my kid that steps over the line?)

Anyway, pool day comes and Grace and Reagan's classes were at the pool with my class and I enjoyed watching them swim and their lips turn blue. Reagan finally decided it wasn't worth it and got dressed. Grace decide to pour on the WHINE and beg to get in the hot tub for 'just a minute.' I stuck to my guns and she obeyed.

Taryn's class got to the pool an hour before we left. I sat with Taryn huddled under a fleece blanket. She had NO desire to get wet. It was cold. It was windy. It wasn't worth it. It was time for third grade to leave. Fourth & Fifth grade would follow two hours later.

Taryn came home and when asked, said she didn't go in the pool because she didn't want to be cold. End of story, right? Wrong. I know you know where this is going...but this is how it unfolded.

I was picking up the mud room and emptying back packs for the new week. I came across one that still had a wet towel and wet suit from the pool day. It wasn't Grace's. It wasn't Reagan's. I knew...I immediately knew what had happened.

So, tonight, at our local Tuesday hot spot - Denny's (Kid's Eat Free Tuesday!) I began the lesson.

So Taryn, I have to ask you something, and I want you to remember that honesty is the best policy. I also want you to remember, anytime I start a conversation like this, I probably already know the answer.

She nodded.

Did you go in the hot tub on the swim day?

She nodded.

So you waited until after I left because you knew you it was against our rule to go in the hot tub?

She nodded.

Well I'm really disappointed. I'm not mad. Mad might be easier. If I was mad, I could just forgive you and be done with it, but when you are disappointed, that is just hard.

She nodded.

You know Taryn, trust is hard to get back. Trust is when I know you will make the right choice even if I'm not watching. Even if you know I'll never find out.

She nodded.

You are going to make mistakes. I still make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But when you make a bad choice, and you know it is a bad choice, it doesn't feel good. This doesn't feel very good does it?

She shook her head. I'm sorry mom.

I know you are. I just want you to know that no one told me about this. I found your wet suit. I figured it out. But we live in a small town for a reason. You go to my school for a reason. People are watching you, and I will probably always find out eventually.

She nodded.

Dad - But Taryn, remember, telling the truth is the most important part. Accepting responsibility, that's big, because if you don't, then there will be BIG trouble.

A Penny Thought: Teaching life lessons are not all that fun. It is hard to look at your child, with crocodile tears welling in their eyes, and hold a line. It would have been so much easier, this week especially, to let this slide. She didn't know that I knew that she broke the rule. But I hope and pray, that this one little lesson was just enough to give her pause, somewhere down the line, when she has a choice to make. This choice really was a little one, but in the eyes of a kid, other little choices might come with a lifetime of consequence.


Stacy B said...

This was one of the many thoughts running through my head. Kyndra tells me the truth now...but will she always??? I admire how you handled this situation and hope I'll be as wise.

Mom said...

I am really proud of how you both handled this. I'm sure I wouldn't have been nearly as calm as you were. This is just a small blip in the big scheme of things but I hope the lesson sinks in. Unfortunately some lessons have to be learned more than once. Please give her a hug for me!

Ronda said...

Wow Anne, props to you for sticking to your guns, having the calm sense to have this discussion with her and as a family. Honesty and truth. I wonder often if I am "training Landon in the way he should go". Be consistent, that's my motto I try to live by. Thanks for sharing this with us.