Being Right and Doing Right

My recently minted 10-yr old believes himself to be a preteen. In his words, “10-year olds are preteens because 11 and 12-year olds are post-preteens.”

Bless. Just bless all the children.

Anyway, as a “preteen,” my son’s expectation is that he can now play some of the video games (exhibit a – Fortnite) we have heretofore prohibited on basis of age and stage – and also because we just didn’t want it. We’ve started the conversation about introducing it, but so far haven’t come to a decision.

So, when he ran into the house yesterday afternoon with a friend, begging to play, I told him he knew the answer to the question. His friend pointed out that he would have to download the game and sign-up, but he wouldn’t have to pay anything. (Oh yes, please tag-team the mom, a winning strategy approximately…never.) My son jumped on the train in his preteen enthusiasm and told me he had already downloaded it and signed up so he was ready to go. Upon seeing my face and grasping his error, he immediately added, “Dad knows.”

You can see where this is heading, right?

I texted the aforementioned Dad, who was still at work, to confirm the lie I knew was being told.

My 10-year old did not play Fortnite last night.

With friends gone and little brother off at baseball practice with Dad later in the night, I sat down with a tearful, repentant kid who desperately wanted to explain that he wasn’t actually lying. A year and a half ago when we got the Xbox, he had downloaded and signed up for the game before we realized it had happened. As soon as we did, we disconnected his ability to download and talked about what he could and couldn’t play. So, yes, in that sense, Dad knew the game was downloaded. But, my son also knew that wasn’t what he was leading me to believe in his earlier plea.

I asked him if he could tell me the difference between being right and doing right. Here’s what he said –

“Being right is when you are factually accurate. Doing right is when you do the right thing even if it’s not what you want to do.”

Parents, there just may be hope after all.

I’m picking on my kid with this story, but I also explained to him last night that adults mess this up all the time. We live in a world where we think we’re justified in our behavior if we can simply find a way to be factually accurate. Only, those things can always be distorted in our favor.

How many of us are committed to the idea of doing right above and beyond being right? I think the world would be a different place – in our governments, our schools, our churches, our neighborhoods, our homes – if we had the same passion for doing right as being right.

I don’t think it’s easy. In fact, I think it’s really difficult. When my husband got home from baseball and was able to join our conversation, he shared that simply going 24-hours with a commitment toward total and absolute honesty is a difficult task.

So, here’s the deal we made with our son that I will also make with all of you – let’s commit together to going a whole week practicing absolute honesty and prioritizing the work of doing right over simply being right.

And if we can do that, then we’ll sit down together and check out Fortnite to see if “preteens” in our house can start playing occasionally.

As always, in this thing called life together…because it’s better that way.

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