Sunday, April 27, 2008

Princess of Thieves

This past week has been a veritable crap storm. A few highlights include:

- After having my "Service Engine Soon" light come on, my car broke down and required a lengthy tow and a new starter. After it was repaired, the engine light went back off.

- Yesterday the "Service Engine Soon" light came back on. I'm afraid. Very afraid.

- I didn't get the promotion I applied for at work. Instead, my best friend got it. I've diligently choked back sobs as I tell her I'm happy for her, and listen to her ramble on and on about how great life is going for her.

- GH has still not found a job, and with each day that goes by, I worry more and more that I won't be able to go to graduate school.

With all of that lovely garbage going on, one more incident was enough to send me straight over the edge. As if the universe knew this delicate calculation, ti decided to send me one more thing.

Yesterday, on a rare Saturday off, I took the kids out to lunch, (which I couldn't really afford) and then to the local craft store, which was doing a free craft project for kids. G and K had a great time decorating bookmarks, and picked up a super duty craft epoxy I've been needing with my handy-dandy 50% off coupon.

Since the day was going so well, and it was so beautiful outside, I decided to take the kids to the park. Sitting on a nearby bench, I watched the kids play, squealing with delight, lost in the dusty melee of other screaming, flailing kids. A short while later, the kids discovered their favorite friends were there, and their mom soon joined me on the bench for a rare adult/mommy moment.

After some time, K came over to the bench with her little friend and sat beside me. That's when I noticed something clutched in her hand. It was a gift card from the craft store we had just been at. With a few questions, it was revealed by K that she had taken it from the store. Seething with embarrassed fury, I told her she was in a world of trouble when we got home. She hid under the slides while I gathered up G and headed home.

When we arrived home, I told GH what had happened, and we had a very serious discussion with K about how serious stealing was. We told her how it hurt and embarrassed her family. We told her that it hurt the store and it's employees. We told her that if she was an adult she could go to jail, that stealing was a very serious crime. We talked, she cried, and eventually we sent her to her room for the evening.

Today I took K back to the craft store, stolen gift card in hand. We returned the coloring book I had bought for her yesterday, and asked for the manager. Pulling her aside, I had K explain what she had done, and give the gift card back to manager. I explained that K had to return her coloring book and was grounded for a week and that she understood what she did was very wrong. The manager was very kind and understanding, and we agreed that K would write the store a letter of apology, telling them what she had learned from this experience.

And now I stew, in embarrassment, hurt, and a permeating feeling of crushing failure. This isn't how I raise my children. I know that this happens with most kids at some point, but I guess I didn't think it would be my kids. Does anyone? After all, my kids know how hard we work for every dollar. They've been brought up to respect hard work and the value of everything. Could I somehow have done it wrong?

Since it appears my life has gone completely white-trash this week, looks like I won't be quiting smoking this week either. Maybe I should just grab a Budweiser, turn on WWE and admit defeat....

Only a few hours later now, and GH has discovered two more stolen items in K's room. One, a container of bubble gum from Blockbuster. The other, a tube of lip balm from Wal-Mart. She's 5 for God's sake! What is going on with my child?!?!?!

Tomorrow, we're removing the toys from her room for the week, and she will be spending her time in there after school and after dinner. We're hoping a week with no toys at all will teach her to appreciate what she has. She's also not allowed to come with me to the store for a long while. I'm just not sure what to do.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd really appreciate it. Until then, I'll be watching Jerry Springer and preparing for my future.....


emily said...

I wish I could send you a huge hug. What a shitty week - but I do have to say that in the midst of it all you show class and grace in how you handled the situation with K. Following through, going to the store, having her see all of this - you are STRONG.

Quite impressive.

Christine said...

Wow, that's a toughie.

I've done some googling, and I found an article I really like about stealing and youngsters that pretty much echoes my thoughts on the subject.

Here's a link:

In a nutshell, believe it or not, it's totally common for kids this age to steal. They might intellectually know right from wrong, but impulse control is something they still struggle with (I know I still do, teehee).

The other thing the article said that I really liked is...well, here's a quote, "It's also important to help your child find alternative ways to deal with her impulses in the future ("You could have asked to borrow the glitter pen, or you could have talked to me about whether I could buy you one"). If the coveted item is something you can't afford, she'll still be less likely to steal if she can talk to you about what she wants. You might say, "I know it's hard not to have that because we can't afford it. Maybe we could put aside a little money each week to save for it."

Don't expect one heart-to-heart to end the pilfering. It may take several incidents for your child to get the behavior out of his system. "Desiring things that belong to other people is an issue that everyone must deal with throughout life," Dr. Noam says. However, for the vast majority of children, stealing is just a phase. As long as you don't freak out about it, this, too, shall pass."

Here's some of the best advice I ever got from my mom regarding parenting: make sure K knows that it is her behavior that was wrong, but that you know SHE is a good person. You are disappointed in her behavior, but that doesn't affect your love for her, or the fact that you know she is a good person.

We all make mistakes, we all struggle sometimes to make the best choices.

I hear you on the bad week...and sssshhhhhhh...don't tell the interwebs, but if we were close I'd totally hide behind the garage and sneak a smoke with you. I'd probably pass out from the nicotine buzz, but that's the kind of friend I am (enabling AND with my own impulse control issues).

Angela said...

Awww...sorry it's been so difficult lately. I think all kids go through this when they're young. You are doing a good job mama...hang in there!

Ginny said...

My now 10 year old stole a lip gloss from Hallmark right around the time she turned 6, can't remember if she was still 5. It was quite embarrassing because she did it while a neighbor took her out & she was the one that discovered it. She got in a lot of trouble & hasn't done it again. I think most kids that age do it, they don't realize what they are doing {usually}. Sorry about everything else going around, we are having a bad streak ourselves.

That Chick Over There said...

Oh honey, what a load of shit you've had to deal with this week.

I'm so sorry. For what it's worth, I think you did absolutely the right thing and your reaction was completely appropriate.

painted maypole said...

oh. ack. i wish I had more wise words for you.

i hope this week has gone better.

loveable said...

hi from a random stranger!
i'm pretty sure all kids do this. i know i got caught taking gum when i was a kid, and i caught my daughter right outside of kroger with something (i can't even remember what now, although i was mortified at the time) when she was about five. you're doing the right thing. it will be ok!

Frugal Disney Mom said...

I am 40 years old and when I was 4 or 5 I did the same thing as your daughter. I stole a ugly (okay it was pretty at the time) ladybug pin from JC Penny's. My mom found out and did the exact same thing that you did. Sent to my room - took all my toys (except the one I slept with) and made me go to the store to return it.

Now if I can still remember all those feelings and details 35 years later. She made her point loud and clear. I have never taken anything again that was not mine. Do not worry your child will be fine.