You may have come across the story of a five-year-old boy in Utah in the United States, who took out his family’s car—yes, he drove it himself, alone—and actually made it onto the freeway. He was stopped by a highway patrol officer when the latter noticed the vehicle’s erratic behavior (too slow and swerving dangerously). The officer got the surprise of his life when he found a small child in the driver’s seat, who was too short to fully see the road over the dashboard. Apparently, little Adrian Zamarripa left the house to “buy” himself a Lamborghini after his mother had refused (of course) to get him one. The boy had $3 in his wallet.
The story, while truly alarming, was passed around the world for its adorable entertainment value. It is unclear what the authorities plan to do with this incident, although according to a Utah-based media outlet, “investigators were preparing to speak with the Weber County Attorney’s Office.”
Here comes the twist that is so prevalent in this age of feel-good (or “look at me, I’m a knight in shining armor”) social-media content: A Lamborghini Huracán owner named Jeremy Neves reached out to the boy and gave Adrian a joyride in his Italian supercar. When news about this circulated, many people were upset, saying the boy shouldn’t have been rewarded for bad behavior. To which Neves has this to say:
Now I understand why so few kids grow up and go after their dreams! Every news station has posted this story, and there are thousands of comments about “rewarding bad behavior” and “this kid should be punished” and all sorts of hateful things about his parents and “the stranger with the Lambo” (me).
Want to know the first thought I had when I heard this story? This kid is going to live a happy and successful life! Why?
* He knows exactly what he wants!
* He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get it!
* He doesn’t let people who say “that’s impossible” stop him!
* He has courage to step into the unknown!
* He told the police exactly what he was doing!
And then I thought…I want to reward and encourage habits of success! I want to help a kid continue to go after his dreams even though his first attempt failed! Oh, and his family might appreciate some support and love from their community after that scary experience!
I’m a parent! I understand the importance of educating our children. I just choose to include education and encouragement for the great qualities, NOT JUST the bad choices!
First, never pepper your words with exclamation points. It makes you look either angry or dorky.
Second, let’s balance and temper the message. Yes, it’s important to encourage children to have a dream and then to work hard to make it happen. It’s important to support them and help them up when they fall. But that’s just one side of the coin. The flip side should also instruct them that actions—no matter how cute—could have consequences in the real world, and that you can’t go through life just taking whatever the hell you want at all costs. Because that’s the mindset of rapists, thieves and dictators. Following your dreams should not be at the expense of other people’s safety. While it’s good to tell kids to chase their aspirations and be winners, it’s equally good to tell them that they can’t always get what their heart desires—and that it’s perfectly okay if they don’t get it sometimes. The Rolling Stones were absolutely right. I believe that failure to send this balanced message across will ultimately set up a child for serious heartaches and possible behavioral issues down the road.
So yeah, I agree with the Huracán dude that we shouldn’t be too hard on children when they err, but I disagree that they should always be given a free pass for every mistake they commit. That would be missing a great opportunity to instill a life-changing lesson in them. The reason there are too many entitled human beings out there is that accountability isn’t being taught rigorously enough.
Any parents reading this right now? What’s your take?