My son learned a valuable lesson this week.
On Wednesday, his school had an early release day. Normally he takes the bus home, eats lunch, and I take him back (or he rides his bike back) for 2pm football practice. Sometimes, the guys on the team don't go home, they just go and hang out at the gym and the weight room, work out, hang out, and play.
He decided he would stay there, and hang out with his teammates.
The guys all threw their backpacks and jackets against the wall. Geoff took his wallet out of his pants, and put his wallet and pens from his pocket and his glasses under his backpack and jacket, and went to horse around. After the horsing was over, all the guys were sitting waiting, and one of the kids on Geoff's team picked up his wallet and said "Hey Geoff, I'mma gonna steal all the money out of your wallet..." in a joking around fashion. Geoff said the equivalent of "Ha ha, very funny, asshole. Gimme back my wallet" and the kid chucked it to him.
"There's no money in it anyway. Why do you even carry a wallet?"
All that was in there was his social security card and his bus pass.
When he set it down, there was $90 dollars in there.
So he was rather pissed, and reported it to the coach. In Geoff's mind, the only guys there were guys on his team. His coach pointed out that lots of teams, lots of kids, and lots of people who aren't on teams cut through the gym to leave at the end of the day. It could have been anyone. But Geoff is convinced it was someone who knew exactly where to look for his stuff, and that would be one of the 10 guys he was hanging out with.
He's rather devastated by this, as by rights he should be. I pointed out to him that dozens of times in the past I've told him never to carry more than 20 bucks in his wallet. "You don't NEED to have $250 in your wallet. Let's go to the bank and put some of that away." But there he was, not listening again, and someone benefited from his decision to hoard his cash and carry it around with him.
The fact that he believes it is someone he is supposed to know well and trust, a teammate, additionally upsets him. He admits that it could be anyone, but he believes it was one of the guys. I told him that may be so, and sometimes some people make bad decisions. I asked him if he found someone's wallet if he would be tempted to take the money, what would he do.
"I know that at our age, getting money is hard. If there is a lot of money in someone's wallet, that means they worked extra hard all summer long and they earned that money. It isn't mine to take. I wouldn't even LOOK in someone's wallet. I would say "Hey Guy, your wallet is here in the open you should put it somewhere safer." He sighed heavily and said "I have more moral fiber in my hand than my entire team does," he tells me, holding his hand up to demonstrate.
"You have more moral fiber by an ounce than one other person has. And that's all."
I asked him why he didn't put his wallet and glasses INTO his backpack, there are enough compartments and zippers and slots and cubby holes that he could have secured the wallet more. "I just didn't think that I needed to. I mean, I'm among friends. These are my guys."
It's a hard lesson, that even sometimes "your guys" may not be what you think they are, or hope they are. I'm very sad that he has lost a lot of faith in his team mates. It very well could have been someone from outside the team, someone from JV or Varsity, or someone from one of the other teams who was hanging around. I don't want him to lose faith in his guys. I want him to always have that. But right now, that trust is damaged. And it will be for sometime.
He has his suspect in mind. There is one kid, one guy, that isn't one of his guys. They have not gotten along ever. Since fourth grade there have been issues between these two boys. We had to sit down with his parents and both boys on a few occasions in the past to iron out the issues and the last time it came down to "look, you don't have to be best friends, you just have to get along and behave yourselves."
So Geoff thinks it is this kid. He may be right. I've grown to awareness that this kid is kind of a turd. His facebook profile is public, and the stuff he posts is just disgusting. He constantly is talking about his penis, how he's going to NH to "eat pussy all weekend." He posts pictures of severely obese women, naked and licking their own nipples, as his profile shot. He gives me the creeps. A lot of the guys think he's funny, but Geoff thinks he's a troll. And here they are on the same team, in close contact, and periodically they will go at it with one another. I told Geoff to develop a filter, just avoid him, don't engage, don't respond, and stick to the other guys on the team like Will and Josh and Patrick. Just steer clear of him. The coaches know they don't get along, and do their best to drill them apart.
On Friday, his team had an away game down in Winthrop. It was a really tough game, and this kid got drilled at the end of the game, absolutely pummeled, and knocked out. Geoff turned to me and said "well he got his comeuppance." And I told him to shush - just to keep his mouth shut. Some of the guys got him off the field and helped him walk to the bus. The bus wasn't ready for guys to get on it, so I told them to sit him on this low cement wall until they could get on. I sat on the kid's left side, and this other kid Kevin sat on his right. The kid was obviously concussed. I asked him a series of questions like "Do you know where you are?" and he answered "I play football."
He started to fall backwards, so I put my arm behind him to support him and Kevin leaned him forward a bit. The kid retched a little and threw up a bit. The coaches arrived and we discussed me driving him home, or him riding on the bus. Kevin was rather insistant that the kid ride home with me, safe in the car, with another kid. That would mean Geoff, because if I were to drive this kid home I would take my own kid with me. Kevin volunteered to go. The coach voted it down and said "He'll be fine on the bus." He's a crusty old dude, with a big smile, and has coached a million kids in football over the years.
He leaned over to the kid and smiled "You got your ass kicked on that last play, didn't ya?" The kid nodded. "Come on son, let's get on the bus." He was checking his eyes, and took his pulse and I gave them my sweatshirt so he could have something to lay his head on while riding the bumpy bus.
After we got home, Geoff said to me "Why were you so kind do him? He's my enemy. He treats me like crap and I think he stole from me, and you're being kind to him."
Sometimes, it's said, that you have to treat other people the way you want to be treated. And Jesus says to love your enemies, not just your friends. He was a kid who was hurt and needed some support.
In the long run, I hope I can help restore some of Geoff's faith in others by modeling that kind of behavior when possible. Maybe his faith can come back while he also protects his stuff a bit more carefully. We'll see.