I’ll preface this by coming clean that yes, I have shoplifted before. I don’t recall stealing anything in my early childhood but I do in fact recall a particularly thefty phase in my early teenage years. I didn’t steal a lot, it didn’t become a problem, I never got busted and I naturally got tired of the anxiety and stress that went along with it! I knew that it was inevitable that my kids would steal something at some point. Developmentally it’s just one of those things….’what will happen if I do this?’ Cause and effect, risk vs reward, that sort of thing.
That’s why, when I first noticed that my daughter had taken something and squirreled it away in her room I made a conscious effort to say nothing about it. I was so curious to know if she would notice it’s absence from her room, forget she had taken it without asking in the first place and ask where it had gone at which point I would whip out the desk lamp and begin my interrogation. Well that never happened, she didn’t say anything. Which to me is indicative of the fact that it wasn’t the item in particular that was of any value, it was the act of taking something to see what would happen. The item was a pack of gum. I found the pack of gum on one of my overhaul missions and the funny part was that there was no gum missing from the pack! She didn’t even indulge in her booty!
Months passed and the clepto had returned and this time there was two victims involved and two separate locations. All of my criminal profiling experience told me that our clepto was growing in confidence and was getting sloppy as a result. This time it was money, and lots of it, more money than a six year old has any business touching. She hid it under her bed and stashed it in her piggy bank. When confronted, man did that kid lie, really effectively…she almost had me fooled, except she didn’t at all, I know this kid through and through and she finally buckled when I promised that I would not be mad and that this was her last opportunity to come clean. So we had a nice, calm and coherent conversation about never taking things that don’t belong to us. The amount of money was not even my focus because she has no concept of the value of it anyway…again, it wasn’t about the item specifically.
But then the days past and my need for justice got the better of me one day when we pulled up next to a police cruiser at a stop light. ‘How would you like to be locked up in the back of that car and taken to jail?’ ‘Whaaa?’ was her reply. That’s when the stone cold bitch came out ‘If you EVER take something that doesn’t belong to you again you will be taken to jail!!!’ The panic and shame were written all over her face. ‘Ok mommy, I promise I’ll never take anything again.’ I reconciled that I had in fact kept my promise not to be mad at her…..that day anyway!