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December 19, 2009 / theoldsilly

A Not-So-Merry Christmas True Story

I don’t often comment on news stories on this blog. Hardly ever, really. But yesterday I came across the news flash story that in CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, a four-year-old boy, beer in hand, was accused of stealing Christmas presents from his neighbors. It’s a strange story, but also a sad one. 

The article, and if you want to read it, just click here, went on to say that this “innocent” little tyke was just trying to emulate his father when he broke into his neighbors house, stole Christmas presents from under the tree, and was found at 1:45 a.m., dressed in a stolen girl’s dress with an open, half drank, 12 ounce beer in his hand, standing on a street corner.

Four years old.

Look at this kid. How? How does this sweet, small face get put with this kind of criminal activity?

Apparently, his mommy (and I use that term extremely loosely) explained that, while the incident was scary to her and caused her great trepidation when she “discovered” he was missing, worrying her to death he might be abducted and/or murdered or run over or something, she felt his behavior was still “understandable.”

He wanted to be like his daddy – do some bad things so he could get caught and go to jail and be with his dad.

Mom was quoted as apologizing for her son’s actions, citing the motive I just mentioned, but admitted she was “not embarrassed.” 

“Kids do things like this and it’s out of your control, you can do the best you can as a mother, everyone makes mistakes, it was an honest mistake,” she said.

Now, mine is not to judge. I’m nowhere near perfect, never have been, try to be, but fail all the time. So I’ll not blog here about what a pathetic example of parenting this is, even though it is and I just showed how imperfect I am by contradicting myself within one paragraph. Sorry, had to let that slip. But the point is –

People – if we want this future generation to grow up to be good, honest, caring-for-and-thinking-about-others-first-with-their-actions, and sensible, responsible citizens, then we have to start – check that – we have to return to, being

Good, honest, caring-for-and-thinking-about-others-first-with-our-actions, sensible, responsible citizens, and we have to do some real parenting!

And that starts by leading by example. Actions speak louder than words, louder than screaming and ranting at your kids, volumes more than endless and meaningless “time-outs,” and your kids are watching you to see what they should be like when they grow up. This poor little kid wants the companionship of his father and apparently will do anything to be like him and be able t0 be with him. How nice, and how typical. Kids are like that.

Too bad there are so many parents who are not living examples of what they want their children to grow up to be, hmm?

Okay, the Old Silly is stepping down off his soap box now. Thanks for letting me rant, I feel much better now. And please join me in prayer for the future of that little boy. His mother was allowed to keep custody of him. Pray for her, too. 

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  1. yvonne lewis / Dec 19 2009 8:00 am

    What a sad story? I too believe we as parents have toset a good example, but saying that I have three children 2 sons, 1 daughter,
    The eldest son is all a mother could wish for, I am proud he has overcome cancer…….still in remission and is doing a worthwhile job for the adult autistic. My daughter too is a wonderful woman, a good mother herself and we are very close, my youngest son I never hear from him…….all because I couldn’t get to Spain back in August for health reasons.He was not brought up to be the heartless person heis
    but he is my son and I love him unconditionally. So however good an example we set we are not responsible for their actions as they grow older.
    Take care.

    • theoldsilly / Dec 19 2009 8:48 am

      Yvonne, I agree – we do the best we can as parents, but the responsibility for actions goes to the grown child once they leave the nest. Even sooner, really. But we do love them regardless, hmm?

  2. John Standish / Dec 19 2009 8:37 am

    Yes, this is all too “understandable” behavior these days. I do agree with Yvonne, though – we are responsible to set good examples and instill values in our kids but what they do after knowing right from wrong as grownups is THEIR karma – even though we should still love them.

  3. Cactus Annie / Dec 19 2009 8:39 am

    I heard about this one. Terrible. You wonder what goes through a little boy’s mind when he figures its the best thing to do to steal so he can be like and be with daddy. So sad.

  4. Marcus Franks / Dec 19 2009 8:41 am

    Wow – now THAT’s encredible. And the mom kept custody? I’ve heard of kids being taken away from their parents for spanking them too hard. But considering stealing and drinking at age 4 is “understandable” and nothing to be “embarrassed” about as a mom is OK parenting?

    What a world we are creating, eh?

    • theoldsilly / Dec 19 2009 8:49 am

      Quite the irony, eh Marucs? Madness, really.

  5. Barbra Kelser / Dec 19 2009 8:51 am

    Wow – I’d be mortified if my kid did something like that. Pray for him and his doesn’t-have-a-clue mom, for sure!

  6. Mason Canyon / Dec 19 2009 9:14 am

    Such a sad story. Why can’t it be make-believe? With parents like that, this poor child has no idea he did anything wrong. I’m with Marcus, I can’t believe the “Mom” got to keep custody. As he grows up this will probably be something funny his family jokes about.

  7. Terri / Dec 19 2009 9:28 am

    I can understand what the CHILD is feeling but how in the world did a 4 year old get outside and into another home without the mother noticing he was gone????
    I have a 4 year old granddaughter, trust me you have to keep all eyes on her. She talks like an adult and doesn’t miss a trick but she is still 4. He brother was smart enough at 4 to know that he had to do something bad to be with his daddy but we were able to talk and explain things to him. He soon learned right from wrong.

    I am so very sorry for the child. He doesn’t understand. Such a shame.

    • theoldsilly / Dec 19 2009 9:46 am

      Terri, in the article the mother says she has “child proof” locks on the doors, but this kid figured out how to get them unlocked. So he is SMART. Sad to know his brilliance is probably going to be used for clever criminal activity with such a misguided upbringing, hmm?

      • tdryden1 / Dec 19 2009 11:42 am

        I soooo agree. Such a shame.

  8. Elizabeth Spann Craig / Dec 19 2009 10:09 am

    I’m actually surprised the mother wasn’t arrested for child endangerment.

    Very sad. And what kind of future does the little guy have?

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  9. unwriter1 / Dec 19 2009 10:26 am

    children learn by example. When our kids were little, I heard them in their room acting out something Rose and I had done. It wasn’t anything bad but I realized then that what we as parents do, kids emulate. We never yelled at our kids and I’ve seen how they grew. My daughter is now the manager of a Subway, my son Kyle washes dishes at a restaurant but wants to be a teacher and Aaron is living in Erie, doing nothing. He has Aspergers and needs to learn by doing, not by reading. Thankfully he is staying with someone who understands his problems and is teaching him. I am very proud of him for going to ‘school’ at his age (26). She homeschools and Aaron is also a ‘student’ of hers. He’s tryig. He will succeed as will my other two.

    I know of two family’s here that lost their newborns this month. One was stillborn and the other had a heart condition. Angie wrote the poem “A Child” to honor them. Which way is worse to lose a child, death or lawlessness?

    • theoldsilly / Dec 19 2009 1:31 pm

      I would say there is NO good way to lose a child, hmm? And I’d be proud of any son of mine overcoming challenges like yours has and returing to his studies in his mid twenties. Good young man!

  10. quirkyloon / Dec 19 2009 11:32 am

    Wow. It’s so hard to read a story like this one.

    And it’s scary how many other untold stories like this one are still out there.

    I feel shame and embarrassment by my kids’ behaviors all the time! I wish they would follow my example and just sing outloud, rock opera style!

    *sad smile*

    • theoldsilly / Dec 19 2009 1:32 pm

      There ya go, Quirkster – Rawk On witcher bad self example! lol

  11. Alex J. Cavanaugh / Dec 19 2009 11:34 am

    That sort of thing just blows the mind – some people’s kids! (And I am referring to the ‘mommy.’)

  12. tashabud / Dec 19 2009 12:13 pm

    My kids are only 20 and 22. But for some reason, I can’t remember what four-year-old toddlers’ comprehension level at this age is. My kids were taught not to take things that were not theirs and that they had to leave things alone. Before they entered kindergarted was when we taught them the word steal/stealing and what it means. So, in this four-year-old boy’s situation, I’m not sure if he has a complete understanding of what stealing means. Granted, he probably knew that what he was doing was not good, but with the influence of alcohol, his four-year-old better judgment was clouded. To us, adults, it is stealing, but to him, might not mean the same.

    If I were the mother of that four-year-old, would I be telling him, in adult vernacular, about his father’s criminal activities and whereabouts? More likely not. I might even tell him that his father is just being away for a while. This is probably not the right course, but in my mind, I’m just protecting my baby from the harsh realities.

    Anyway, I feel bad that boy got himself into trouble. Since the boy snuck out of his home while the mother was asleep (unless his mother lied and that she was actually away from home, leaving her children alone), then I would not judge the mother as being a bad parent. The way I see it is that the boy had been exposed, very early on, to the harsh realities of this world. This is why, I think, that we should protect our young children, somewhat, from the harsh realities of life at certain stages in their lives. I agree completely that, as parents, we have to be good role models to our children. When the children are grown up and can determine exactly what’s right and what’s wrong, then the parents who had instilled their good moral values and good behaviors on their children shouldn’t be blamed for their children’s bad actions and behaviors anymore.

    Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

    • theoldsilly / Dec 19 2009 1:33 pm

      A lot of good points and thoughtful commenting here, Tasha. I agree in spirit with what you are saying. It IS a complex issue, and again, ours is not to judge, hmm?

  13. MadMadMargo / Dec 19 2009 12:22 pm

    Good grief, Charlie Brown!

    I’m shaking my head in disbelief.

  14. CatLadyLarew / Dec 19 2009 1:05 pm

    This is exactly why I see my work with four-year-olds as so important. Many people “pooh-pooh” pre-school teachers, but it’s one of the most critical junctures for helping children grow into loving, caring, responsible people. (But it sure takes a lot to overcome the lessons taught by parents like those you mentioned.)

    • theoldsilly / Dec 19 2009 1:35 pm

      Totally agree with you Cat Lady – those pre-school years are absolutely important in the development of personality, moral and ethical makeup, intellectual and social skills, all that. Good for you for what you do!

  15. Stanley Berber / Dec 19 2009 2:23 pm

    Feel sorry for the kid. Lots of them out there, sad to say, with less than fortuitous mentoring conditions. Sort of agree with Tashabud also – I mean, that poor mom – sure she could do better, we all could, but man that’s a tough road to be on, eh?

  16. Thelma Banks / Dec 19 2009 2:26 pm

    Well I don’t side with the “mother” on this one at all. First of all, choose your husband or significant other better, secondly, don’t have kids if you can’t raise them properly, and thirdly, when this kind of behavior surfaces, you’d best be taking a hard look at what kind of parenting you are doing.

    But of course I’m not judging, lol 😉

  17. Helen Ginger / Dec 19 2009 5:11 pm

    Apparently, the four year old doesn’t have a good example to follow – in the father or the mother. If the father is in jail, then she needs to step up (since apparently she hasn’t stepped up yet) and be that example.

    Straight From Hel

  18. ReformingGeek / Dec 19 2009 7:06 pm

    That’s pathetic. Enough said.

  19. Joyce A. Anthony / Dec 19 2009 9:16 pm

    My son knew by the age of two that if something wasn’t his, you don’t take it. I do believe this child was taught that stealing is wrong–or he wouldn’t have considered it doing something bad to go to jail. I think the mother should be sure any door locks are now impossible for him to reach. My questions are more toward–where did he get the beer? It says he stole presents from the neighbor–did he get the beer from home or there? Next, I’d be concerned at what kind of life this child has–where he is willing to leave Mommy and go to jail with a Daddy he probably barely knows? Most kids this age–especially boys–cling to their mothers.

  20. Rayna / Dec 20 2009 9:45 am

    My younger one will be 4 next month. My older one was 4 two years back. So I know exactly how a 4 year old reasons out things, and it is EXACTLY the same way as the kid in the story would.

    BUT, we are not 4 years old. We are adults with several years of experience behind us. We presumably realise we are mature enough to be responsible for another life, which is why we brought a new life into this world. It is our duty to ensure that things like this do not happen.

    The kid must have been missing his father for a bit- what was the mother thinking to allow the anxiety to fester? And the kid having done what he did, should have been made to realise what was wrong with what he did, not dismissed as it had been.

    I do feel sorry for the poor kid – with examples like this to emulate, he has too much stacked against him too soon.

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