I was fairly certain that my five year old had accidentally accessed the Internet on my phone. As I don't have a data plan this would mean some charges. It had happened before, and we had taken the money from her savings as a consequence. Clearly that had not made a lasting impression. She has always been strong willed and a stereotypical oldest child who believes she is right and knows what is best. No, I don't know where she gets it. We are constantly on our toes thinking of strategies to help her become the woman God wants her to be, and I am sure we haven't seen anything yet as she and I learn to live together on her journey to adulthood.
Since this time incurred an almost $25 charge, I called Verizon to block data on our phones until we decide to pay the monthly fee. I also had the woman on the phone make sure Caitlyn hadn't accidentally signed up for anything with a recurring charge. The woman sheepishly said, "Okay, I'm unsubscribing you from two things - mobile email and Sexy Girls Next Door."
Me: You're kidding.
Me: OH MY GOSH!
Caitlyn: (from the backseat) "You said a bad word!"
Me: "Well you did a really bad things that deserves a bad word!" (to the woman on the phone) "Well, I suppose it could be worse. I could be dealing with a teenager who intentionally signed up for something like that."
I waited a couple of hours debating and praying about how the proper punishment. (Remember my whole Lent sacrifice of trying to make my words, thoughts, and actions honor God?) After I got her brother to sleep we had a chat about things. Thankfully she didn't recall seeing anything bad on my phone, although she did realize at one point that she had gone to the Internet and tried to "x it out."
Drawing from our sermon Sunday on Matthew 18, The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, I tried to explain the monetary amount of her transgression. She has a chance to earn a quarter a week, but each time she refuses to obey she loses a penny. If she never misbehaved it would take her 2 years to pay us back. In addition she had recently clicked something on her Dad's Facebook account that would take another 2 years of perfection to pay off. For a 5 year old, this is an impossible sum of money to earn. I then explained that because God had forgiven Mommy and Daddy for our sins against him, we were going to forgive the debt she owed us. She understood that if she did it again we would be making a trip to the bank, but this time the slate was wiped clean through no merit of her own, just because God had shown his love to us and we wanted to show that love to her.
Most of it probably went over my preschooler's head, except for the part that she wasn't going to have to spend the money she is saving for her purple Honda. But I only wish all my parenting decisions were that well thought out and based in Scripture.
Did it change her? It's hard to say. But I know it changed me.