Thursday, June 19, 2008

I don't know if it was right but it felt good

I got a call on my way to the gym today (I work out after work). My 9 year old son had accidentally dropped his new electric guitar and he was beside himself with grief. Apparently there was nothing functionally wrong but there was a big gash in it. My little guy is very fastidious and he was so upset by this that he decided he would never play again nor would he join me and his siblings to see The Incredible Hulk.

He was so upset and crying so much that he couldn't even talk on the phone.

Needless to say, this broke my heart. First of all, he gets his anal retentiveness from me. I would have been upset as well if my new whatever got a scratch. And besides, he's my little guy and I hate to hear him cry. To top it all off, my wife and I are in the midst of a divorce and my kids don't need additional grief.

At first I thought he'd just have to deal with it. But
I couldn't deal with it. So on the way home, I bought him a new guitar. I figured we could sell the scratched one on eBay and at least get some of our money back. It wasn't even an expensive guitar. I paid $150 for it brand new.

I was so excited to get home and bring a smile to my boy's face. I paid for the guitar and just got out of the store when I got a call on my cellphone. It was my little guy. He sounded much better and he told me that he had decided he would continue to play the guitar and join us to see The Hulk and that for his bar-mitzvah (4 years from now) he would want to get a better guitar.

I was in a rush to get home so I could gather the kids and head to the movie, so I didn't return the new guitar on the spot. Instead, I brought it home. I wasn't sure what I would do with it. I left it outside the door and went inside. My son showed me his scratched guitar. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Not bad at all. And he seemed OK.

I then went outside and brought the new guitar inside. I showed it to him, told him what it was. He lit up and hugged the box. But before he got too excited, I asked him whether he thought we should keep it or return it and save the $150 for something else in the future.

He opted to return the guitar and save the money. I was so proud of him!!

Anyway, I was in conflict a lot about whether to get him the new guitar. He should learn a lesson to take better care of his stuff. And this was a great learning opportunity. On the other hand, maybe learning it with his cherished guitar is too costly a lesson. And, of course, the whole divorce thing has me extra sensitive to my kids' feelings.

So what do you think? Did I do the right thing?


Lori said...

As you mentioned in your blog, you are extra sensitive to your kids feelings these days and I feel you probably "emotionally reacted" too quickly in terms of buying a new guitar. I feel that our children need to experience disappointment in their lives and take resposibility. Despite your "impulsive" purchase decision, I think your son's response to keep his guitar was both responsibile and admirable and speaks to how he has been raised for the last 9 years.

Jer979 said...

not sure it's right or wrong, it's a question of which value you want to emphasize.

1. things don't matter, but people's feelings do
2. just b/c something is broken doesn't mean you are entitled to a new one

I think the best part of this story is that your boy showed the right values on his own. You guys (both of you, divorce notwithstanding-love the transparency, btw) have done something right.