My son, Titus, used to be notorious for drawing on things that he shouldn’t draw on like walls, the floor, and other objects besides paper. In recent months, however, he improved alot and rarely did so. The other night when we were at my parents, we saw two white walls that had pencil drawings on them. No one was sure about who did these drawings so my parents, my siblings, and I decided to ask the kids to see if one of them would admit to the crime. I am thankful for parents who tend to be pretty laid back and don’t get angry when things like these happen. We were all just curious about how the kids would respond when confronted with the question, “Who drew on the walls?”
My brother has three kids and I have four. We lined up the kids (except for Tiana, my baby), in order of oldest to youngest. With their backs against the wall, standing in that order, they looked like a xylophone. It was the cutest thing. My brother Paul and my sister-in-law, Jenny, said, “Ethan will probably not be able to answer because he isn’t really talking much yet.” Ethan is their 2 year old. But my dad included him in the line-up anyway because we all wanted to see how the kids would deal with the mystery wall-drawer issue.
The scene went like this. My dad pointed to the drawings on the wall and said, “Kids, who among you drew on the wall? You are not going to get a spanking for it, we just want to know who did it.” The adults’ initial verdict was that Titus probably did so. It was almost like he was guilty until proven innocent. But, there was no proof at that point except for the fact that he was more inclined to do so than the others.
After my dad asked the question, nobody answered. No one admitted anything. Ethan, who supposedly could not talk, volunteered almost everyone else’s name as the culprit but his own! It was hilarious!
Since no one was saying they did it, I decided to probe further. I went up to Titus and said, “Titus did you do this?” He said, “No.” “Are you sure, Titus? You are not going to get a spanking. Mommy just wants to know if you did it.” He said, “I can’t reach it.” And this was true. He stretched his arm up to show that he couldn’t reach the spot where the drawings were. But because he was the most likely candidate, I kept asking him and eventually, he said he did it. “Are you sure?” I asked repeatedly, and he said, “yes.” At the point, we all assumed that Titus was responsible for the grafitti. I apologized to my parents on his behalf and Titus did so too. And as a consequence, he helped cleaned the walls.
All of us thought the story was over. Fastforward to two days later…We were having dinner at my parents again when my sister in law, Jenny, said, “Guess what? Caleb confessed to drawing on the walls today.” We were all shocked! This whole time we thought the mystery wall-drawer was Titus. Afterall, Caleb was 5 years old and he was not the type to write or draw on walls. Paul and Jenny had been so confident two nights before that Caleb and their second child, Alana, were not the type to do such things.
When we asked Jenny how Caleb came to his confession, she said that when he saw one of his pencils during his homeschooling that morning it made him remember what he did. He admitted that he used that exact pencil to draw on the walls and that it was wrong of him not to have admitted to doing so. He cried because he was sorry and embarassed.
Paul talked to Caleb and confirmed that he was indeed the one who had drawn on the walls. Poor Titus! He had gotten framed somehow and was pushed to admitting something that he didn’t even do. I was happy that Titus was proven innocent, but I was even happier to know that Caleb’s heart was tender and moved to confess his wrong.
As we all discussed what happened (without Caleb around), we realized that it was quite mature of him to apologize and acknowledge his deceitfulness. The fact that he was convicted meant that the Holy Spirit was working in his young heart. So praise God! My dad said to him, “For being honest, I am going to give you a prize.” He wanted to affirm Caleb’s boldness to tell the truth and encourage him because he did the right thing.
We all came away from that incident sobered by the reality that our kids (even the most innocent ones) can struggle with integrity issues, but more importantly, we were reminded that if our kids are connected to Jesus, he continues the work he began in their hearts. Just as the Bible says, “he who began a good work in you will complete it,” we can be sure that God will keep molding and shaping the hearts of our children if they belong to him. (Philippians 1:6)
As for Titus, I can’t wait to hug him when he wakes up tomorrow and tell him that his reputation has been restored. Okay, he is only three so that won’t meant anything to him, but I am going to give him a big hug anyway and tell him that he is a good boy and apologize for thinking that he was responsible for drawing on the walls when he was innocent all along…