For Labor Day weekend, I took my family down to Gulf Shores, Alabama for some time in the sun and sand. My parents scored a really cool condo that had indoor and outdoor swimming pools and water slides, which my kids loved. As expected, the place was packed with kids running from one point of the property to the other like wild banshees, jumping in the water, splashing each other and doing everything their parents told them not to do. Kids need a break too though, and with summertime getting shorter and school beginning sooner, I can’t blame them for wanting to cut loose. To be honest, I felt a little like a kid again myself, for a little while anyway.
We had just been talking over breakfast about everything in the news from the Trayvon Martin case, to the recent assault of a kid on a school bus. The general consensus we all agreed on was how dangerous it is to be a kid these days, especially a teenager. Not only that, but how easy it can be for an adult to get aggravated with teenagers these days. That morning I found myself looking at my 15 year old son and his friend and caught myself wondering, with everything going on in the world today, who would want to be a kid again?
Later on by the pool, as hundreds of kids were engaged in various forms of water battle, My son and his friend interrupted our grown-up conversation to tell us they found something. There in my son’s hand rested a lady’s white gold or platinum diamond wedding-ring set. The diamond was probably the biggest I had ever held in my hand and certainly way more than 2 months of my “Hotter Than Fishgrease” salary. I thought of how hard it had been for me to afford a ring for my wife when we got married, and how much I had wished I could have bought a bigger one. Here was one twice the size. I also thought about how crushed my wife would be if she ever lost hers, and how much it meant to her. There was never a question of what to do. We immediately walked to the guard shack and turned the rings over to security guards. I was proud of my teenagers for not only being honest, but for actually paying attention long enough to notice these rings lying on the chair. After all, they were on vacation too…and nothing was asked of them but to obey the rules and have a good time. I guess boy scout training and good upbringing really do pay off.
An hour later, a young lady and her husband came looking for her wedding set she had lost. With a panicked look on her face, she asked if I had her rings. I told her my two boy-scouts had found them and turned them in to security. As I pointed down towards the guard shack where we left the rings, I watched the young couple hurridly leave the area to reclaim her jewelry. I was glad this lady was getting her rings back. I was taught to do the right thing, I teach my kids to do the right thing, and their friends are taught to do the right thing too. We don’t do the right thing because we expect something in return. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. We do it because if the shoe were on the other foot, we would hope someone would return the favor.
Earlier in this blog, I said I didn’t expect anything from this woman for helping get her wedding rings back but that’s not entirely accurate. I fully expected my teenagers to get a simple “thank-You” for doing the right thing, especially in an environment where 99.9 percent of the other teenagers were running wild on “care-free” mode. Mine stopped what they were doing and took time out of their day to save somebody thousands of dollars and a lifetime of memories. They didn’t need a “cash” reward, and to be honest, they didn’t even NEED or expect a “thank-you” either, I was the only one that expected that, something teenagers don’t get a lot of these days, is acknowledgement when they do something good in this world. The thank you they received came from me instead.
As parents, we spend a great amount of time teaching our kids not only to be smarter, but also to do the right thing when the chance arises. We teach these things against the grain of video games, television and music that try and teach our kids to do otherwise. All we can do as parents, is hope and pray that our efforts at raising our children pay off in the long run. On this day, our efforts proved successful.
In closing I’ll say this… I’m glad the lady got her rings back. I imagine that she was probably in panic mode and fully intended to say thank you. Furthermore, I’m sure she was probably tired from a long weekend. Teenagers can be loud and obnoxious zoo animals, capable of ruining a family vacation and causing extreme debt in the family budget. Sometimes however, if you raise them right, and show them a little love once in a while, … teenagers can be the most joyful people you ever encountered, capable of incomprehensible acts of kindness towards random strangers when you least expect it. I’m proud of my son and his friend for being the honest young men they have become and I wouldn’t trade my time with them for any diamond in the world.