I heard a funny "click" sort of noise and turned to see HRH completing his pitch, arm returning to his side. "What did you just throw?" I ask. "A rock," he answers.
And as I stand there, I can hear a strange hum and look to see the LARGE plate glass window of HRH's preschool splintering into a million little spider-webby cracks. It took me a minute to process and called to another mommy-friend to make sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. Sure enough, HRH had broken the window - but good. Marilyn says, "you need to go tell the Director." Um...yeah...
I call the two boys and head for the school's entrance. HRH grabs my arm and I turn to find him crying. "Please don't tell Mrs. Stoffel!" He pleads. "I've got to, buddy. This is a big deal." He doesn't want to follow and I eventually tell him to stay with Marilyn while I go in search of a teacher.
As the director and I examine the damage, she sighs, "it's the big window." Of course it is. It's also shatterproof glass so although it's smashed into a million pieces it's still intact, for the time being.
Afterward, RC and I go back to the playground to get HRH. He's no where to be found. The other mommies said he'd followed me into the school. I begin searching the school and calling for him. The remaining teachers and Director hear me and begin looking as well. Minutes that felt like weeks later, his own teacher finds HRH hiding behind a large bush in the front of the building. She calls to us and when I arrive, she's hugging him and telling him it's okay. He is sobbing and his face is blotchy red.
I get down on my knees and hug him telling him how worried I was, that he should never hide when he's afraid, that although I didn't like what he did, this was an accident, it was okay, and all the other soothing mommy things. He looks at me and says, "I didn't think anybody would want to see me again." I answer that I love him and everyone understands it was an accident. He says "I didn't know if you'd still love me after that." I answer,
"Babe, you know how I always tell you 'I love you, no matter what'? Well, this is no matter what. And I love you. Let's go home."
We've discussed it. We've talked to Daddy. We learned that he was throwing the rock at the playhouse in front of the windows, not at the windows himself. What we did not do was punish him. If the goal of punishment is to help the child learn from his mistakes and feel a sense of remorse, I didn't have to do a thing. Except catch him when he fell.