Monday, March 7, 2011

Get Out of Jail Free card

My dad’s philosophy was that every child should have a Get Out of Jail Free card. That meant that he would bail each of his children out of jail for free, one time. He was not encouraging jail time, but seemed to understand that if we made the huge mistake of getting arrested, we would need his help. The good part is that he was able to use this for each of his children.

My brother was the first to use his card. Because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong friends, doing the wrong thing, he managed to end up in the county penitentiary. In his defense, he still claims that the drug paraphernalia the police found in his pocket was not actually his. So in the middle of the night my brother used his one and only phone call, to let my dad know that he would be cashing in his Get Out of Jail Free card.

My sister was the second. Being a nurse and never having a run-in with the law, my dad realized she might never need to cash in her card, so when the time came for her to buy her first home he gave her the down payment. He called it her Get Out of Jail Free card.

I was the third and last one to use my card. I cashed mine in for an all-expenses-paid, absolutely unforgettable trip to Disneyland with my dad. He was generous beyond compare, and even though we had to suffer through “It’s a Small World (After All),” it was much better than a night in the slammer.

So what lessons did I learn from my dad’s funny generosity? That most parents would never even consider the idea that their angels could end up in jail, but my dad did. When and if it did happen, we knew that we had someone to call. It also taught me, once again, that my dad loved us all, unconditionally. He knew we would make mistakes, and he was realistic in his expectations. We were not chastised for our bad decisions, but were given a second chance. And we were also rewarded for our good decisions.

As a parent, I hope that if I get a phone call at 3 a.m. from the local sheriff, I will calmly tell my child they can cash in their one Get Out of Jail Free card, and if I never get that phone call I will find an amazing way to let them cash it in anyway.

1 comment:

Tamra said...

Beautiful story. Your dad had the right idea.