A Lesson Over Beats

Many of our grandchildren live out of town. On their birthdays, we send them birthday cards and a birthday check (each child receives the same amount). I plant a large kiss in bright red lipstick on the back of the envelope so they know that Honey (the name my grandchildren call me) loves them beyond.. .and beyond. On one such grandson's birthday everything seemed to backfire.

This is the story.

We were visiting our Arizona family. My daughter, her husband and three of our grandchildren moved West several years ago. Our custom is to take our "out-of- town" grandchildren shopping for a special present because, unfortunately, like many grandparents, we are unable to "run over to their home" and take them shopping for a pair of Levis or a backpack for the new school year or just spend time after school sharing an ice cream cone. Skylar and Michael were easy to please.

Then there was Jack! He always dances to the beat of his own drummer. He is 11 years old, an actor, a chef and a gymnast on his cheerleading squad that won first place in the Nationals. He loves to shop and his eyes are bigger than they should be. He does not give up on anything he wants! That day was no exception. Jack wanted a present that was far too costly. I gave him several choices within the same price range we allowed Skylar and Michael to spend. I tried to explain the importance of fairness. He persisted and persisted. Nothing in the store would satisfy him except a set of Beats that were extremely expensive. He pleaded, "Can I have them for my birthday?" His birthday was in a few weeks. Finally, after an hour I was so exasperated, I said, "OK Jack, I will buy you the Beats at Apple for your birthday!"

I knew I was breaking the family rule of "what is good for is good for all." I allowed this grandson of mine to put me in a compromising situation. I was not happy with my actions. So... I enclosed a note with his birthday card and his usual birthday check instead of the Beats.

Dear Jack,

I made an error in good judgment the day I promised you the Beats. I cannot give you a bigger birthday present than I give your brother and sister and your cousins. I have an idea because I am very upset that I am not keeping my word. Possibly your parents will add to my check. Then there will be fairness to everyone. You will have your Beats. I will keep my honor.

A few days later, this was the reply from this grandson of mine. It arrived by text message:

Dear Honey (my grandmother name) "I thought you promised me the Beats. I still love you for thinking of me but I thought you promised."

The guilt set in! I really blew it. I had backed myself into a corner and there was no escape. I should have stuck to my guns in the Apple store. I should not have allowed this grandson of mine to drive me to the point of such extreme exasperation that I make a promise I knew was wrong. I tried to justify my mistake by sharing the cost with his parents. It did not work with this grandson. A text would not do. A phone call was in order.

"Jack, it is Honey. How are you?"

"Good." (That is how boys talk... one word!)

Jack, I am calling about your text. I have to admit to you that your grandmother made two mistakes that day in the Apple store. I made a promise that I should not have made. I broke a promise I should have kept. I will keep my word. You will receive the Beats because I promised them to you. But before we hang up Jack, I want to leave you with two Honey lessons... don't push people to do things for you that your know aren't fair. Remember what your grandmother did when she knew she was wrong. She admitted her mistake

"I will listen to you Honey. I really promise I will try to do the right thing. I love you to the moon, Honey."

Do something GOOD today: Value your word. Value another person's feelings.