Lost and found
Last week my son lost his smartphone, my old iPhone had been inherited by my wife which she handed down to him. It was at least 4 years old had recently been through a couple of major repairs, including battery and screen replacement which made it quite functional and useful for him. Most importantly, he knew there was no way he was going to get a new phone for losing current one so losing the phone was a big blow for him.
The good news was that he was fairly sure he lost it in the school corridors. He remembered having been bumped by a running student at the end of lunch break because his shoulder still hurt from that encounter and remembered using his phone before that encounter so his search started at that corridor as soon as he realized it was missing when classes ended almost 3 hours after that incident.
When I picked him up that afternoon he had already scoured the area multiple times, talked to the homeroom adviser of the classroom nearest to the bump that could’ve dislodged the phone from his jacket pocket without his noticing, tried the different lost and founds in the school, and his friends had been ringing the missing phone. As soon as he told me he lost his phone my mood changed and I couldn’t hide the irritation but I could see that going on a diatribe would be counterproductive. I simply believed him when he said he had done all he could to find it so I didn’t force him to search again one more time. Instead we went home and decided to trust that the system and in the values education of the students or staff who could’ve stumbled on the lost phone.
I sent the phone multiple text messages informing the finder the name, grade and section of the owner as well as continued calling the missing phone throughout the rest of that night. The fact that the phone kept ringing made me feel good about its chances of being found because people who don’t have any intention of returning the lost phone would’ve turned it off and discarded the sim card by then.
Unfortunately for my son’s smartphone, he doesn’t have data so we couldn’t turn on the “Find my iPhone” or “Find my Friends” feature to locate the missing phone so we had to rely on good old fashioned honesty and decency for it to be returned.
If there was one good thing about losing a smartphone, I had a very well behaved seventh grader that night. Aside from overcompensating for losing his phone by being extra nice, he wasn’t always on his phone messaging his friends. That night, we included a prayer to St. Anthony to help him find his lost phone.
The following day I reminded him to check the lost and found one more time and to keep checking until he finds it because the phone is still ringing so I was pretty confident that it was not yet truly lost. My gut feel was proven correct as by recess time he had called me using his phone to tell me it had been surrendered to lost and found, proving once again that school children are more honest than most people in this planet.
We weren’t able to talk again until later that day and I asked him if he thanked the person who found his phone. He said he knew the last name, grade and section of the finder but he wasn’t able to find the person yet. I made it a point to tell my son that he had to go find that person and personally thank him or her for finding his phone and giving it to the lost and found. He should probably even get that person a token of his gratitude taken from his allowance.
It was during that talk I realized that while the school may have done an excellent job in teaching the kids the value of honesty; they had to do a little bit more to teach the value of gratitude. After all, while honesty may have become automatic, nothing encourages it more than being sincerely thanked for the act. It is my goal this week to make sure that my son tracks down the person who found his phone and show his gratitude because as our public officials have been showing us, decency and acts of honesty are no longer cool among the adults but we can still hope that our kids can reverse the trend so acts of genuine gratitude are important if we are to encourage values like honesty.
If my kid had lost his phone in a mall or a sidewalk, it would’ve been as good as lost because people who return lost items like iPhones are as rare as politicians who sign actual bank waivers.
But there is hope in the next generation. They are still honest. They still believe that bad words are bad. They will still call you out without hesitation if you make false promises. They wouldn’t laugh at obscene rape or vagina jokes. We can only wonder how much longer our kids can be honest and innocent because if you look at our society today, decency is only for schmucks and losers.
Parents who want their kids to remain honest and keep the values that schools try to teach and many of us hypocritically try to impose upon them need to remember how much harder it is to raise decent people in a society where the indecent rule and get away with everything.
Even if my generation has arguably lost our sense of decency, is there any hope that it is our kids that will find it and bring it back?*
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