Saturday, September 01, 2007

Permission Slip-Up

My Leatherman Multi-Tool is missing. Normally, it lives in the glove compartment of my Subaru. Today when I went out to run some errands, I noticed that the glove box was open and a cusory inspection revealed that the Leatherman was not there. I was all prepared to get snippy with TFH (who was at the hardware store with Ben at the time) because he has his OWN Leatherman, but later when we were both home and I asked him if he had it, the answer was no. So, naturally, we both looked at Ben. Ben says that he did not take the Leatherman out of the glove box, and I believe him. I believe him because he said that he did open the glove box, and was going to take the tool out to look at it, but it wasn't there. If he's willing to go as far as to say that he was going to take the tool, then he'd admit if he actually had. I got snippy with Ben. He was the last person seen with the tool, and last weekend TFH found some of the new real kid-sized tools that Ben got for his birthday laying out in the yard. I told Ben that being careless with something that that didn't even belong to him was irresposible. And the way I told him that suggested that it was the height of irresponsibility, if you get my drift. I told him that if he could not find it, he would have to buy me a new one, with his own money, which he thought meant that he'd have to make his way to the store by himself, and oh! The confusion, the dismay. I had to go inside to make dinner. TFH was working on the wall that water spilled down in the storm last winter. Ben was told to take responsibility for his actions, and try to find the Leatherman. Standing over the kitchen counter (or in the shower, or driving in the car - alone -) always gets me thinking. And it occurred to me that maybe Ben wasn't the only one who had been a little careless. We have never really talked to Ben about "asking for permission" for something. Ben was/is a dream-child in that he never got into things. He was not one to empty the contents of the plastic food-storage container cupboard. He did not get into the household cleaning products. He didn't climb onto counters. So we've never talked to him about needing permission to do or get something that is normally in the province of the parents. But lately, he's been getting into things. Or, more precisely, he's been helping himself to things. Things that he knows better than to help himself to, or so I thought. Things like... candy. Twice he pulled a little tin of mints off of a shelf in the computer hutch, and though he did share with TFH and me, he knows that in this house of all houses, candy is very nearly contraband. I moved the tin of mints to some hanging wire baskets too high for him to reach, only to find him on his step stool with his "fingers in the cookie jar" as the saying goes. This time he was going for some bubble gum. Every time I have gotten upset with him. This is distressing for both of us. He really hates being scolded, and I hate losing my patience with him. It wasn't until tonight that it occurred to me that maybe TFH and I need to talk to Ben about what things are permissible, and what things require that he get permission from one of us. Maybe we shouldn't take for granted, or assume that he knows this already. Maybe we all need to take responsibility for our actions.