Eli reluctantly walked into his parent’s bedroom. Shoulders slumped, feet shuffling, and tears running down his face. He couldn’t stop crying.
His mom looked up as the door opened. Seeing the tears she reached out encircling him safely in her arms.
“What’s wrong, Eli?”
He leaned into his mom’s hug. His arms hung limp at his side as he continued to sob. Eventually the tears subsided.
“I’m scared,” he squeaked out, “I’ll get in trouble.”
Mom pulled him in closer, kissing the top of his head.
“Honey, no matter what it is, I still love you.”
She felt him take a deep breath and let it out. He relaxed.
“I’m here. I’m listening.” She ran her hand up and down his spine, like when he was a baby. It always calmed him.
Finally Eli began to speak.
“Last year in Grade Two, my friend Stephan stole a magnifying glass.” Eli paused breathing deeply. “He told me to put it in my backpack and not tell anyone or he wouldn’t be my friend anymore.”
Mom knelt down, looking into his eyes. Her even gaze gave him courage to continue.
“He’s my only friend. No-one else plays with me so I did it.” Eli reached into his back pocket and offered his mom the stolen property.
“I forgot all about it till I found this in my room. I freaked out.”
Mom gently took the offered contraband.
“What do you think you should do about it, Eli?”
Eli knew the answer was to give it back but he was scared.
“My teacher isn’t at my school anymore.”
“Okay,” Mom took Eli’s hand and led him to the kitchen. She placed the magnifying glass on the table.
“What about writing a letter to the Principal, and the Assistant Principal, telling them exactly what happened? Of course you also need to admit that you were wrong and be ready to accept the consequences for your actions.”
Eli looked down at his hands then up at his mom. She placed a glass of milk in front of him and a plate of cookies beside the magnifying glass.
“Mom,” he asked, “Will you help me?”
She tousled his hair then moved the cookie plate closer to him. “Of course, but you better eat up. Writing a letter takes energy.”
For the first time since finding the magnifying glass in his room, Eli smiled.
The next day, full of nerves, Eli went straight to the office. The secretary looked up from her typing, “Hello Eli.” She got up from her desk. “What can I help you with?”
The letter lay heavy in his hand. “May I please see the Principal or the Assistant Principal?”
“I’m sorry but neither one is available at the moment.”
Relieved, he handed her the letter. “Please give this to them.”
As the secretary took the letter from his hand, relief washed over him. At least the first part was over. But every kid knows, if you get in trouble, you’re going to have to see the Principal at some point.
Sure enough, later in the day he was called to the office. All the initial nerves from finding the magnifying glass pounded in his chest. But he picked up his backpack and made his way to the office anyway.
The Assistant Principal smiled at Eli as he entered her office. He kept his eyes down. She got up from her desk and sat in a chair beside him. “Thank you for coming in, Eli.”
Her friendly manner eased the pounding in Eli’s chest. He glanced up and saw the letter laying open on her desk.
“I’m very proud of you for coming forward. It took courage and honesty.”
Without looking at her Eli unzipped the backpack and grabbed the magnifying glass.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he gave it to her.
She accepted the stolen school property.
“Your mom and dad must be proud of you too. They’ve done a good job raising you to know the difference between right from wrong.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Eli finally had the courage to look in her eyes. They were even and steady, like his mom’s were when he first confessed.
Her continued friendly smile gave him the courage to ask, “What’s my punishment going to be?”
“Because you willing came forward, and returned the magnifying glass, there is no further action required.”
Eli let all the pent up air escape his lungs. The Assistant Principal shook his hand and sent him back to class. *
Like my great nephew Eli, it’s not always easy to make the right decision. But, it’s how we make it right, that shows our true character.
Eli could have let OolaBlockers, such as Fear and Guilt, stop him from speaking up and doing what he knew was right. Instead, he went to his parents for guidance, and they enabled him to courageously admit his wrongdoing, apologize, and accept the consequences. He learned the value of integrity.
Integrity is an Accelerator in the Oola Framework. OolaAccelerators are traits and characteristics that help move you rapidly forward in your OolaLife.
Integrity is the ability to act in ways that are consistent with your values, beliefs, and moral principles. It's about doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. This means applying courage, honesty, and respect to your daily interactions.
Eli, at nine years of age, learned that personal integrity allowed him to live with a clear conscience and peace. That is very Oola!
*Based on a true story