When your seven-year-old comes running in from where he was playing outside and calmly says, "Um. Mom? Could you come here? Quick," you should be alarmed.
I was when it happend to me yesterday. I dropped everything, trying to quell the terror I felt at the fact that his little sister was nowhere to be seen. But, before I got out the back door, she came rounding the corner of the house exclaiming, "Brother kicked the soccer ball into a stick and now there's water everywhere!"
By this time, I had rounded the corner of the house to see the neighbor's (that's right! the neighbor's) two-foot tall sprinkler head had been broken off and water was shooting like a geyser at least twelve feet in the air.
I ran over and rang their doorbell. No one was home. Of course they weren't. Thank goodness we had exchanged mobile numbers when they came to welcome us to the neighborhood.
I called the missus. No answer.
I called the mister. He answered. And, with more patience than I can conceive, he walked me through turning off the water. (My description of this would be that I lifted a manhole cover and reached my hand into the sewer to turn a dirty knob with a hole in it. I know that's not what happened. But, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
He said he would fix the sprinkler when he got home; that he needed to put some kind of guards around those heads; that kids were going to play with balls - that was a given. I told him to please tell us what it cost to repair it. He said no. I live next to the nicest neighbors EVER.
I got off the phone and turned to the kids - who were splashing their feet in the river of water that was making its way down the drive. I told them to get their balls and come inside. New rule: when you break the neighbor's stuff, outside playtime is over.
I told Spence, "You need to write them an apology note or drawing." He sat down and made this:
Note: There was no dog involved. That must be artistic license. Look at everyone's serious faces - that just cracks me up. And, notice the ball at the top of the fountain of water (not to be confused with the sun that is also up in the sky).
I texted Shawn:
We texted back and forth as I told him the story and he concluded with:
We saw our neighbor out (fixing the sprinkler!) as we went on our after-dinner walk that evening. Spence did a good job of apologizing. By that, I mean he spoke loud enough so the man could hear him (seriously, a feat for this shy child). The mister was very kind to him. And, the missus called me later to say how much they loved the picture and she really admired how we were raising our children. Are you kidding me?! Nicest. neighbors. EVER. I think I'm going to have to make them a banana cake.
So, I tried to make the whole ordeal a "learning experience." I told Spence that we will make mistakes. What's important is how you react after you make a mistake. No excuses. Just do what you have to do to make it right.
He agreed that he understood and then said, "Mom. It was really kinda cool. That ball shot straight up in the air on top of all that water!" Awesome. It's a trick he'd like to see again!