You are a great dad, half of me says. You are a sucker, the other half says back. I can't believe two people made my wife and I feel so guilty for being so honest. I feel good about owning up to our son breaking an 8-foot-tall plaster-cast mannequin of a chef with a pig's head. But I really don't know if I would have said something had I known what the reaction would be. Next time something like this happens, I probably will do the same thing. But I can only say probably. Maybe it is better to be combative than gracious. All I really know is that you don't always get a discount for being honest. Now, looking back, I see options. I could have told her to send us a bill. Or to sue us for the damages. We could have left. But that would have been wrong. "We said we would pay for it," I said.

The woman took Debbie aside and whispered she was sorry for what she had said about us as parents.

"That," Debbie said to her, her voice wavering, "was rude."

And then we were back in the store, and I was giving my credit card to him, and he was giving me a receipt back, with the promise that if it would cost less, he would refund some of our money. We don't expect to see any of that money back again. Would you?

We left the uneaten part of the desserts on the table on the porch, and went home, without the mannequin or the business card. We had made a point to our son about honesty that cost us $500, not a small amount of money. We did the ethical thing.

But did we really do the right thing? I don't know. The shopkeepers were graceless. There was not even a "Thank you for your honesty" when we left. We felt as if they had extorted the money from us. I drove past the shop later to see if the mannequin was still out there. I wondered if they would have simply pocketed the money. The mannequin was gone.

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