When A Child Steals
On the ride home from school recently, my son spotted a ring on the seat by my daughter. He quickly said “Maddie, where did you get that ring?” Madalyn quickly hushed him but he wouldn’t give up, asking over and over again where the ring came from until my husband chimed in and pressed our daughter to explain where she got the ring. Madalyn came clean to my husband and confessed that she took it from my husband’s uncle’s bathroom at a recent 4th of July party. By the time they arrived home, my daughter ran into the kitchen, lower lip quivering apologizing to me for lying. I was not aware of the conversation on the ride home so she quickly confessed that she took the ring from Uncle Peter’s bathroom. She saw it and it was so pretty she just “had to have it!”
I was totally taken off guard by this chain of events. She went on to explain that she lied to me when only weeks prior I had asked about the ring and she told me she “got it at school.” (True confession, I don’t remember that conversation nor do I recall being so accepting of where she claimed to get the ring).
The confession went on for about 10-minutes. She was really upset with her poor decision and practically hyperventilating as she recounted her story and guilt. My gut reaction was to tell her it was okay – just so she would calm down. She looked pitifully sad as she tried to hold back the tears unsuccessfully. She’s only 5 after all. Oh the drama.
Needless to say we discussed how the sadness she felt didn’t make taking the ring worth it. Even though she kept telling me how beautiful it was and how much she liked it. We talked about alternatives to taking the ring, like asking the owner where they got it, complimenting their taste or even asking to borrow the ring. But she never did any of that.
She asked what her punishment should be and we agreed that I would find out who the ring belonged to and we’d return it with an apology. I did some digging and found out who the ring belonged to (thankfully it was family!) so it was time to write the apology. The night I found out the rightful owner, I told her which cousin (2nd cousin actually) it belonged to. It was pretty late and while I suggested writing the note the following night, she insisted on writing the apology immediately. So I crafted the “note” on a scrap piece of paper so she knew the words. Funny part is, when it came to the end, I wrote “forgive me” thinking the note was longer than she could possibly construct but my daughter insisted it was more appropriate to write “Please forgive me”. After writing (copying) the note, she continued to draw a picture of her and her cousin holding hands and included a flower. We put the ring and letter in a well padded envelope. Lesson learned – or so I hope! Have you ever discovered a child stealing and how did you handle it?