I'm always surprised by how little Louis remembers of his younger years. He's off to stay in Bath today as part of his school's enrichment week. It's his first visit since he went there at the age of five. We met up with friends and it was one of the first jaunts away in Klaus the Knaus our motorhome. I recounted something that happened on that trip last night. To my surprise Louis recalls it vividly. It seems that I put the fear of God up him.
We were back in the van after a day of sightseeing. I noticed that Louis was playing with some tacky keyrings that weren't entirely unfamiliar. 'What are they?' I asked. 'They're mine!' he pronounced. It turned out that were nothing of the sort. I'd refused to buy them earlier in the day so they'd been shoplifted from the gift shop at the Roman Baths.
Determined not to see my son begin life as a career criminal I took a hard stance. 'You're taking them back and 'fessing up.' I told him. 'What will happen to me?' he asked. I shook my head. 'I don't know.' I replied with a faux woeful look. 'We'll have to find out tomorrow.' I was on a roll so I added, 'Maybe they'll send you to prison.' 'But I'm just a child!' Louis remonstrated. 'We'll see if they take that into account but I really don't know.'
The next morning we walked hand in hand to the shop. We heard a police car siren in the distance on the way. I was still up for keeping the pretence going. 'Maybe they're out looking for you' I told him. We finally arrived back at the baths. Louis returned his booty to the man behind the cash desk. 'I'm very sorry.' he said. 'These accidentally fell into my pocket.' The guy gave him a stern look and sent him packing. 'Thanks for doing that.' he said as my relieved son sidled out of earshot.
I'm not sure what a parenting expert would think. All I know is that it seems that scaring the pants out of a small child seems to have had a lasting effect. There's been no further brushes with law breaking ever since. Maybe my approach worked. Lou's turned out not to be a bad egg after all.