“Wow, that looks good on you.” I complimented my 18-year-old with her new outfit.
She bought a pair of tattered jeans and a hanging top. They call it “cropped” top now, but back in the eighties when I was a teenager; we called “hanging” blouse back then since you can see the belly button. I smiled a bit as I recalled my “young and free” days. And now I look at my daughter and I see myself in her.
“Did you get a pay bump?” The outfit must have cost her at least $50 bucks, and she only earns $3.50 an hour at the coffee shop where she works. She managed a quick “Uhm” before she stepped out of the house.
I assumed that she’s been working hard to be buying a lot of things for herself lately. Not that I can’t afford to buy her stuff, but I always teach all my children the value of money, perseverance and hard work. It makes me proud to see her like this – empowered, independent, and responsible. I feel a little accomplished because that’s my child. She’s partly the way she is because I raised her to be such. Little did I know what was happening right under my nose, and I never in a million years taught it is possible.
Lying, Cheating, and Stealing – What’s the difference? NONE.
Her teacher called me at home and asked if we could meet at a local coffee shop. This can’t be good, I said to myself. Why did she want to meet with me away from school? What is going on here? I asked her what the meeting was all about and she just said – it’s about your daughter. With a lot of questions going on my mind, I agreed to meet with her an hour later.
She started with “I caught Tina cheating, but I didn’t report her to the school administrator because it will jeopardize her college application at NYU.” My heart dropped and literally, my face was white.
“Come again?” I heard her right, but I wanted to be sure if she was telling me the truth or not. Is she for real?
“I said Tina, your daughter, cheated. Well, technically, she did.” My daughter’s teacher said again.
“What happened?” I asked.
Apparently, the reason why my daughter has a lot of extra cash is that she’s been selling term papers, book reports, and other requirements like that for other students. It is illegal and could merit her expulsion from the school. I was so lost and confused from what I heard.
“But as I said, I didn’t push through. I’d hate for this mistake to define Tina when I know she is a very promising young girl.” I could kiss her teacher right now and hug her real tight. All I could manage at that coffee shop was a firm grip on her hand and countless “thank-you.”
It is rare to get an opportunity to redeem yourself, especially in cases like this.
“I do ask for something, as sort of community service, though. If Tina agrees to help me this summer and tutor underprivileged kids in our center, I will consider this as her “punishment.” Not reporting this to the school authorities puts me at risk, as well, but this can devastate Tina’s future, and I can’t that do that to her. One mistake must not define who we are as a person. I want to give her a chance.” When she said that, I just burst out crying. She comforted me, and after an hour of rambling, we parted ways.
When I reached home, my daughter was there, and the look on her face said it all.
“You could have destroyed your future for a lousy $200, Ti. What was going on your mind? I didn’t teach you to behave this way.” I told her.
“I am so sorry, mom.” My daughter said.
“Tell that to yourself. I’m not the one who was close to losing her future for $200.” And then, I went to my room.
I had a very long talk with my husband about what happened to Tina that night, and we confronted her the next day. We both decided that she must make amends, return all the money she got from her side business, and assist her teacher in the community thing. She’s also grounded. I don’t know when it will be lifted, for now. We also booked an appointment with a family therapist where we can all effectively communicate our inner feelings and thoughts.
With all my heart and soul, I hope it’s not too late for my daughter. I wish for her to learn the lesson. In life, there are no shortcuts. It’s never ok to cheat, lie, or steal.