Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stealing 101: Next Time Keep Your Mouth Shut and Maybe Your Pre-Teen Won't Notice

Photo by Connor Lawless

So Kristen over at Motherhood Uncensored wrote about a stuffed duck landing in her shopping cart and how it hitched a ride home with her unexpectedly. A whole moral dilemma developed on her blog with some people firmly on the side of "that's wrong and you need to take the duck back and be an example to your children" and others saying "geez, it's just a stuffed duck, who cares?" If you ask me, the duck is having a great time.

I had just laughed about it and then promptly forgot (which is pretty typical with me, I forget everything).

Until yesterday.

We were getting the groceries for the week, and when we got back into the car I was checking the receipt. I always check the receipt. Not because it might have Johnny Depp's phone number on it, but in case I was accidentally charged $25 for a pack of M&Ms.

"Hey, they only charged us for one milk! (we had bought three) This place always screws up and half the time they don't charge you for stuff you've bought. I don't know how they make any money." I was tired of stores. Tired of shopping. The last thing I wanted to do is go back in there and stand in more lines. "Whatever. Let's go."

Jake was quiet. Only weeks ago he had come home with a school issued bottle of glitter, to which we gave him a big lecture and had him return it to the principal. That was stealing, we said. It doesn't belong to you, we said. We can't trust you, I had said. I had even reiterated the lecture in that very store before I sent him off to look in the magazine section. He suddenly piped up from the back seat,

"But Mom, that's stealing."

Dilemma: When your kids are older they notice everything in technicolor detail. We had done the talk, and now I had to be ready to walk the walk, because to him, everything is black and white. Even though I specifically told the cashier "THREE MILK", showed them to her, made every effort to pay short of doing a pole dance on the counter and she screwed up, it's still (gasp) stealing according to Jake.

"Ummm....fine, wait here." I knew what I had to do.

Back in the store, the cashiers looked at me with gaping mouths when I explained why I was back. Utter shock was written all over their faces. Back? She came back? Nobody comes back! I insisted that the original cashier not get into trouble, it was an honest mistake, and then paid the $7 I owed for the milk.

"Show your son the receipt," they laughed.

So Kristen, for now, I say keep the duck. Just enjoy it while it lasts because once your kids figure stuff out, those days are OVER. They won't even let you keep a $3 jug of milk that the cashier saw, bagged, and didn't charge you for. Because, you know, that would be stealing.

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