Consequences are something we talk about on a near daily basis at our house. There is nearly always a consequence of everything one does in life whether good or bad. Give someone a smile and the consequence may be brightening someone's really bad day. Slug your brother and he will definitely slug you back. Sometimes the consequences are immediate but not always. Lie to your mother and she WILL find out sooner or later. We try to hammer this into our children because the consequences at their tender ages are generally not severe. Consequences as an adult can be much more grave. Like jail. Or getting fired.
It is painful to watch your children go through consequences. Rarely do we learn anything in life unless it is attended by a little (sometimes a lot) of pain. Yesterday we had to watch our eldest son face one of life's first really painful consequences. For four and a half years we have been telling our boys to stay out of our dog's face. They love to get in Shakespeare's face and kiss him and let him lick them all over. Typical boy stuff. Yesterday #1 was supposed to be reading with Shakespeare but instead decided to get in his face and mess with him and inadvertently hurt him. Because his face was so close to Shake's, we aren't sure if Shake nipped #1 or if he flung his head because of the pain and his teeth made contact. Doesn't matter because #1 ended up with two good puncture wounds on his left cheekbone that required a nearly all day trip to the ER only to find out that they don't stitch dog bites due to risk of infection. Clearly this is not Shake's fault but the boys had previously been told what happens to dogs who bite. As I sat with #1 in the ER all day we both had to keep fighting tears because we knew Donald's intentions for Shakespeare. #1 admitted it was his fault and that he had learned his lesson about staying out of a dog's face. Perfect fodder for a gentle chat about consequences for our actions.
I asked the doctor what the protocol is in a situation like this. He said it varies, necessarily, but in a family pet, unintentional situation like ours, he would leave the choice up to #1 since he is old enough to make an informed decision. Donald is still incredibly angry at the dog but decided late last night that knowing #1 as we do, #1 would feel guilty for the rest of his life if Shakespeare was put down for something not entirely his fault.
It was a long and painful day for the whole family but mostly for #1. He has nothing but love for Shakespeare but kept a respectful distance away from his face yesterday. Having seen victims of serious dog bites before I am relieved that he'll come out this with nothing more than a vampire bite looking scar on his cheek. I hated for him to go through this but I suspect it won't be his last lesson learned in a painful manner. I'm also secretly relieved that my faithful running partner is still around to run another day!