Spring Break in Prison

23 Mar

The cost of freedom

The cost of freedom

What kid doesn’t appreciate getting pulled out of school early?  For my elder beast, it was like the beginning of a death sentence. So what if he got to leave early — it meant a week of vacation with the family.

Beast:  “Can I just stay home and not go skiing?”

Mother Beast:  “We aren’t leaving you at home alone for a week.  You’ll have fun, trust me.”

Beast: “No, I won’t.”

It was then I saw the nickel lying on the pavement just behind our car.  “Wanna bet?” I asked. I picked up the coin and said, “I’ll bet you this nickel you will have fun.”  His response was the standard teenager’s, “Whatever.”

At that point, I realized it really was a dual sentence. I would be emotionally punished for making him go.  And for him, a week in Gitmo would be much more enjoyable than a ski trip with his family.   But what he didn’t know is I had a surprise witness that would seal the deal.  That nickel was going to be mine.

He did his best to play the tortured inmate role —  trapped in the car with a family he can’t relate to any longer.  No interest in watching movies with his brother.  Conversation was more like interrogation. And once when I accidentally touched his knee, he reacted as if I applied an electric shock treatment.  He had put himself in solitary confinement within the back quadrant of our car – reading his book and doing his best to tune us out.  Only willing to communicate when it was time for a meal or the latrine.

I knew he only had to endure one night of this hideous torture.  The star witness would arrive on day 2.  So we arrived at the airport in Albuquerque under the ruse that we had a package to pickup for Dad’s work.  When in fact, we had flown in their favorite cousin from Houston to accompany us on the trip.   The one person that could transition my hopeless inmate back into a member of the family.  It worked. Once the witness was unveiled, the jail doors flew open.  Sentence commuted.  Freedom had arrived.

Still I cautiously waited to claim my victory until the week had come to a close, the witness delivered back to his family, and we were back home.  I didn’t dare ask the question until I was sure the time was just right.

Mother Beast:  “So, did you have fun? Do I win the nickel?”

Beast:  “I didn’t know you were bringing him.  Yes you win the nickel.”

The reason I knew it was okay to ask – – I had just received a nowadays rare, ever-precious, sacred and unwarranted, “I love you.”   Unprovoked, unmerited and completely out of the blue.  And at that very moment, the jail doors flew open for me and I realized that my very own bail had only cost me a nickel.

Parenting Tip:  You can’t force a kid to see the good in his situation, but you can surely help him find the way.

[Acts 16:26   Suddenly there was a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.]


One Response to “Spring Break in Prison”

  1. Anonymous March 24, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    This was really touching for me today! The love and bond of cousins can be a pretty powerful thing. Also, it is ironic how the child that needed comfort became the comforter.

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