While waiting for my husband’s lunch meat to be cut at the deli at the supermarket, a man notices my sons sitting on a bench with pretzels behind them in which they were eyeing. The man looked at me as I kept watching them, and then said to me, “They are going to steal them maybe?”
“They wouldn’t do that.”
“Aw, I did it once at that age. What are they 5 and 6?”
“8 and 6.”
“Well you know, boys will be boys.”
“Boys shouldn’t steal.”
“It wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
As I went to respond to him that it would hurt their souls if they were to steal, we were interrupted by a deli worker who made sure the man received his meat. Afterwards he said to me, “Well you know when they are not around their friends as much in the summer, they get bored and get into things and sometimes things happen.”
I responded,”Well they are homeschooled and are used to not being around their friends all the time.”
“A job and a half for you. Even so, boys do need to try things out.”
I received my meat. I informed the man that I had to go and told the boys it was time to leave. They jumped by my side ready to go to the register to pay out. I pondered the message conveyed by the stranger I met. Just because a boy is a boy doesn’t give a boy a right to be a trouble maker and do things that are wrong. Just because a boy is bored doesn’t mean he should be granted access to do trouble making or steal. It hurt my heart to think that this is how many people might think.
All I can do is continue to try to teach them to do right and hope they will do what I teach them. Maybe one day they’ll do things wrong that will truly hurt them or others, but I want them to be aware they are doing wrong rather than shrugging their actions off as doing something supposedly expected of them as they grow.