Monday, September 17, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Son #1 didn't have a wonderful day in school today. It started off well enough, but in 3rd Period Social Studies, he found a $10 bill on the floor between his seat and the one next to him. Son #1 is not the type to quietly pocket the money for himself. He asked the boy in the seat next to him - I'll call him A - if the money belonged to him and A said that it did. Son #1 did his good deed for the day, right?

Not quite. Later in the day, at lunch time, a boy in the same Social Studies class - I'll call this one H - asked Son #1 whether he found money. Why he waited so long to ask, I do not know. H sits in the seat directly in front of Son #1, so it very well may have been H's money and not A's.

Son #1 felt so badly that he was duped into giving the money to the wrong kid that he promised to bring ten dollars of his own money to school tomorrow and give it to H. That's the price of an innocent mistake in the 7th grade, apparently.

Here's the worst part: I feel compelled to give my son lessons on how to be cynical. For example, next time one finds money, one should conceal it in one's hand before asking, "Did you lose any money?" If the person says yes, then one should say, "Can you tell me how much? In what denomination?" If the person says "a 5 dollar bill" and you're holding a ten, then you know they're yanking your chain.

I'll admit that I'm much more suspicious than Son#1, which is why in general he views the world as a much better place than I do. How do I know the money was A's? How do I know it belongs to H?

For the record I considered sending a check, with a detailed note, so the parent would have to read the note and cash the check. A minor inconvenience for the boy, unfortunately, but hey, a bigger inconvenience for me. However, I decided against that because I don't whether the check would go the "right" person (i.e. was H the one who really lost the money) and I didn't want my bank account info out there, you know what I mean? (See? I really am a cynic at times.)

I ultimately emailed the teacher enlisting his help (I haven't heard back yet). Here's what I said (of course I used the real names):

Mr. [Teacher's Name],

I'm wondering whether you might be able to help Son #1 with a situation. Son #1 is in your 3rd period. He spotted a $10 bill on the floor in your classroom, in between his chair and A's. He knew it wasn't his (and it's not in nature to pocket the cash without attempting to find its owner) so he naturally asked A if it belonged to him. A said "yes" so Son #1 gave him the money.

At lunch, H asked Son #1 whether he found money. (H sits in front of Son #1). Son #1 replied that he had, but that A claimed the money as his own. Understand that Son #1 is a very generous-hearted individual and felt terribly that H was out of his $10 so Son #1 offered to give H his own money.

Son #1 and I discussed that perhaps a better tactic would have been to turn the money in to you and let you deal with it.

Obviously, Son #1 is very upset about the whole ordeal - probably more upset that he was lied to than he is over paying $10. Personally, I don't feel Son #1 should owe anyone money. It was, after all, an innocent mistake on his part. However, he is - as he put it - "a man of his word" and doesn't feel that H should be out of the money, either.

Before any more cash changes hands, would you please discuss the matter with the parties involved and see if in fact the money was H's (and if so, whether A will do the right thing)?

I'm sending Son #1 to school with a copy of this email and an envelope containing $10 with instructions to give to you. If the child who is missing the money cannot get it back from the person who has it, please send the envelope home with him.

I'm open to suggestions if you have any.

Thank you in advance,

I'm curious - how would you have handled it? Dear Hubby doesn't think Son #1 owes anyone money, and I agree, but I get "But I promised" from Son #1.

Who knew that raising an ethical child would cost me $10. ;-) (The money I'm sending is my own, not his.)


Nadine said...

I agree he doesn't owe the money, but what can you do when he made a promise and his heart is in the right place. You have a great son.

Come by for your award.

Elle*Bee said...

He is a great kid. In this day and age, it's almost amazing that he's 12 and not cynical (I tried to suppress my natural skeptism. LOL).

What award is this? I've been checking your blog at least every other day (if not daily) - perhaps I missed it. I'll stop by your blog soon.

Sue said...

Wow Elle, that's a tough one. Being cynical as well, I'd also be inclined to tell H (the 2nd boy?) there's no money for him. But I'm seeing conspiracy theories everywhere these days, so don't mind me.

I hope it all works out for everyone!

Elle*Bee said...

sue, I personally agree with you. Son #1 tried doing the right thing and if the money ended up in the wrong hands, it's because someone *lied*.

I wish Son #1 would've told H that he'd have to take the matter up with A - perhaps offer to go to the office with him to see if they could sort it out.

But since Son #1 "gave his word" to bring the money, I let him. I think his pride in keeping his word will ultimately outweigh the disappointed of being betrayed for attempting to do the right thing.

KAYLEE said...


Elle*Bee said...

kaylee, you're too funny! ;-)