Zion and a friend played wonderfully for two or three hours today, with no fighting, no adult intervention, and plenty of wonderful imaginative games. We had camp going on so there were other kids around, but except for a few minutes here are there the two of them were content to ignore the rest of the goings-on and concentrate on their shared storytelling. It was wonderful! It was only this evening that we saw the aftermath: one ficus tree badly damaged and two books—including one library book—with pages torn out and ripped up.
It makes me sad when my kids break up a lego creation that I made—sometimes even one that they made!—so you can imagine my reaction to damage to a 10-year-old potted plant or a good book. There's a little part of me that recognizes that I probably assign too much value to things myself, and that I could stand to dis-attach a little more than I do; and in the discussion that ensued that bit tried not to emphasize too much the importance of the objects themselves. But on the other hand things do have value, and while we try and cultivate a "spirit of abundance" (have we ever blogged about that before? I'm too sleepy to look) real concerns about sustainability demand we teach our kids to be careful with their stuff, because we don't just want to throw something away and get a new one. Even more importantly, there's the damage we do to relationships when we damage or destroy something that belongs to someone else, and I want to make sure that both Zion and Harvey understand that dynamic.
So Zion didn't get a story tonight, and we're going to have a week without library books (two hard hard punishments in our house). Harvey felt terrible about the whole thing, even though his only fault was in not doing anything when he saw the two smaller boys "boshing" the plant, and he graciously offered to help pay for replacing the library book. Zion didn't and won't, both because he doesn't have any money and because he's a proud boy who hates to admit fault, but I'm pretty sure he got the severity of the situation. He said he was sorry, anyways, and that he won't do it again. And he already has tomorrow's story picked out and waiting by his bed.