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BOTD 10/09/15 "The Pumpkin Patch" A DMK/Squarecutter Production

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David M. Katz

A DMK (Squarecutter - Autumn Parade Inspired) Production

To supplement your income you have a pumpkin farm.  Most of your pumpkins are sold to local grocery stores but you do sell some pumpkins out of a roadside stand and the stand has proven to be a lucrative venture.  Because of the heavier than expected traffic on the road side stand you have hired your fourteen year old son, Andrew, to help tend the stand. His job is simple:  he takes the money from customers for the pumpkins and, if needed, helps them load the pumpkins in their car. You do pay Andrew for his time.

Today you go out to the stand to check on things and you catch Andrew stuffing money from the cash box in to his pocket.  You ask what is going on and Andrew sheepishly admits to stealing from you.  Yes, YOUR son is stealing from YOU. Andrew apologizes and hands you the cash and promises that is all he has taken.  You close the stand for lunch and take Andrew in the house.  You tell him he is going to be paddled for stealing. Andrew protests saying he said he was sorry and he gave the money back.  Andrew storms out of the house and retreats to one of the pumpkin patches.

You let Andrew be and figure he needs some space but will calm down and you will deal with him later.  You tend the stand for the rest of the day.  When you pass the pumpkin patch you are surprised to see Andrew still standing there. It has been several hours and it is getting dark.

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You tell Andrew to come inside.  He refuses saying, "I'm not coming in until you call off the paddling."

What do you do?

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

David M. Katz

I am going to go in the house and collect the following items:

A blanket
A jacket
A pair of socks
A bologna sandwich
An apple
A bottle of water

I will take them out and place them next to Andrew's perch and go back inside. I think that will send my message. What he does is up to him. Eventually he will miss his bed and tire of bologna.

I am glad he apologized and gave the money back but that doesn't change the fact that he stole.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


I think I will point out to Andrew that actions have consequences. If you get caught stealing, giving it back doesn't make everything better. I only have his word that this is the only time he stole from US (not just me, but the whole family). While I don't think "you'd like to me son, I also never thought you'd steal from me."

I'm going to finish by telling him that he's lucky he's not getting switched, but that he's going to have to do more than throw a quiet temper tantrum to change my mind.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


I'll tell him I could see he gave back the money I caught him stealing but since I can no longer trust ask him how can I be sure he's telling the truth that that is ALL he has stolen.

Then I'll leave him to think about that for a while.


Have I never paddled Andrew? Why is he so terrified?

Well... I'll tell him he can come in. I'm not spanking him unless he agrees he deserves it. I'm not going to fight him.

I'll also tell him that he does not need to be so afraid of my spankings. I love him and although spankings hurt superficially I'm never going to injure him or do anything to him that would cause more than temporary stinging and discomfort.

I will explain to him that I have been disappointed that he would steal from me (or steal from anyone). That returning what he stole when he is caught does not really make it OK. That he now needs to earn back my trust, and the way to start doing so is accepting that he did something wrong and accepting the consequences, in this case a punishment. I will tell him that whatever happens I love him, but that I would feel much more disappointed if he doesn't want to accept the consequences of his mistakes. I'll tell him he can regain my trust and I want to work with him to do so, and that it starts with him trusting me to be fair and decide what discipline is needed.

Then I'll tell him to get inside. As I said, I won't punish him until he agrees, and he may have as much time to think as he needs.


Editor Extraordinaire
I like Daniel's reply. I don't think punishment does anything more than exact retribution unless the person receiving the punishment accepts it as just. I would hope that Andrew will either explain why he has taken this stand or agree to take what is coming to him. Perhaps there is more to the theft than he has told me. Perhaps he has some valid reason why he is resisting the paddling that I can resolve; for instance, if it's a question of embarrassment over being bare, I could compromise.



I like everyone's answers, though they are all quite different.

At 14, I could probably still physically overpower him, but I don't see the point--I don't think he'd learn anything from that except that I'm bigger than he is and that "might makes right"--which is NOT the lesson I want to teach.

I'm going to tell Andrew that we need to talk. I won't guarantee he won't get paddled ultimately, but we need to have a calm, rational talk first. I want to know if there's some GOOD reason why he was stealing from his own family and if there is any reason he shouldn't be paddled (or otherwise punished).

If he refuses to talk, I'll make sure he has a jacket, and maybe a bottle of water. I'm not otherwise going to provide creature comforts outside, and I'm going to let him know that the police take curfew violations even more seriously than I do. I'm going to make sure he knows what a violation of my trust this has been, and ask him why he thinks I should believe anything he has to say.

Then I'm going to leave him alone to think about it for a while. I'm pretty sure he'll be coming and staying indoors shortly, for the promised paddling or seclusion.


I consider I need to ascertain from Andrew if there is a reason why he took the money. Is he being bullied or blackmailed or is he just trying to impress his friends or even show them he has as much money as they do?

Thee could be mitigating circumstances here. And has he actually stolen the money until he walks away from the stall?


I will tell Andrew I am disappointed and baffled as to why he should steal and also why he should have been so scared, if he is of the consequences. Is it that my response to his serious offence is to promise a worse punishment than he is used to? (some might argue that would be justified) He seems to have convinced himself that handing the money he was caught taking makes it ok again. To me its more like the response of a very small child promising to be good over and over when caught in a misbehaviour. I too will wait this one out. Then we will talk this one through. I'm not taking the paddling off the table, not yet anyway, as I need to feel Andrew is not playing me

Pi Beta

RIP 9 Jan 47 - 17 June 17
I, too, like Daniel's reply. Handing back what has been stolen is not punishment - there must be some other acceptance of guilt and responsibility, whether that is acceptance of a physical punishment or, maybe, he would like to read and consider whether he should follow Zacchaeus's example in Luke 19 - in which case my "profit" on that would go to an appropriate charity!

John Boy

I chose the ditto mix of Katz and Jack.


That is sheer brattiness. He knows exactly what he’s done without me having to spell it out for him. He just wants to be defiant and not get what he knows he deserves – and he does know; the kid’s not clueless. He can stand right where he is while I grill steaks outside for the rest of the family. I guarantee that he’ll be hitting the verandah before we take our first bites and I’ll soon be grilling his behind for thieving and blatantly defying me. I’d add lying but that is only supposition as I can’t prove it.

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