Decisions have consequences. Good or bad; there are definite consequences. I have a 14-year-old son. And suddenly you realize I deal with this subject…a lot. Mom and Dad, if I was anywhere near the problem at 14 that my son is, I apologize profusely!! Now, in fairness, we adopted my son out of Foster Care here in Southern California. He was born addicted to meth and heroin. We didn’t, and still don’t know all the potential ramifications of this. Needless to say, our struggles are many. Our biggest difficulty stems from the lack of impulse control that comes from advanced Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which was caused by chemical imbalances derived from his birth-mother’s continual use of meth during her pregnancy. He’s a great kid. He’s brilliant, athletic, and very handsome – a dangerous medley, to say the least.
No, his issues all come from the lack of impulse control. He steals anything that isn’t nailed down, and his preferred method of communication is lying. As you can imagine, this has caused a number of family rifts and now, some legal issues. I sit in his room for nearly an hour each night going over that day’s issues, trying to help him make better decisions. Most of our conversations now center around a tube and black and white marbles.
Imagine, if you will, a tube. It’s empty. Next to the tube are two boxes. Each box has an infinite number of marbles: One with black marbles, and one with white marbles. As we make decisions or perform any kind of action, that decision/action then then causes either a black or white marble to go into the tube. If we do nothing but make good choices, then each time a white marble is placed in the tube. Likewise, if we make bad choices, a black marble is place in the tube. Over time, our tube gets filled with marbles. If we do it right, there will be mostly white marbles. A few black marbles will make it in, but overall, we have a tube full of white marbles. If your tube is full – to the brim – with black marbles, absolutely no one will trust you – your tube is full of black marbles. If you put in a white marble, what do you still have? That’s right a tube full of black marbles. No one will trust a white marble action when all they see is black marbles. However, if your tube is full of black marbles and you put only white marbles in for a few days, people will see that as a good start to fixing the situation. Yes, it will take time, they will be watching, but it can be done – one white marble at a time. If your tube is full of white marbles and you put in a black marble, it’s a mistake, unless you start putting in a lot of black marbles. The point is, if you want people to see you differently, you need to put white marbles in. Yes, your tube is currently full of black marbles. Each time you put in a white marble, a black one is pushed out the other side. Don’t stop putting in white marbles, simply because people doubt your sincerity. If you put enough in, and then accidentally put in a black marble, it will be seen as a mistake. A black marble WILL NOT be seen as a mistake if your tube is already full of black marbles.
This is an ongoing conversation. Now, my time with him looks more like, “What color marble did you just put in?” He’s able to tell me some of the things that he did were black-marble-producing. We’re still working on acknowledging that lies are black marbles, because he holds on to those a lot longer before he is honest. The point of all this is understanding that there are more consequences to our decisions and actions than just losing XBOX or TV for the night. It’s all about how we are perceived and believed. We all have clear tubes that those around us can see. If our actions indicate we have a tube full of black marbles, then stop wondering why people don’t believe you when you put in a white marble. You get the same benefit in reverse when your tube is full of white marbles.
Now go, put in your white marbles…and have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe.