Teachable Moment: My Kid Shoplifted TodayChristine Coppa
You read that headline right. I’m red-faced. This afternoon I took JD to Party City for two reasons: to pick out his ninja-themed party plates, napkins, and favors and to order balloons for his kid party at a local karate gym. If you recall, I didn’t want to throw a par-tay, but, hey, you only turn 5 once, and we live in an area where this is what people do. We have big kid parties and eat cupcake cakes — there’s even “adult food.” The other reason we were at the mega party store was so I could pick some Halloween props up for an upcoming photo shoot at First for Women magazine. I told JD he was my star inter,n and he was super excited to hunt for a witch hat and cat kit.
We found both props fairly quickly. Success. Next, we headed to the theme party section, and I let JD pick out some ninja tattoos, ninja pencils and little ninja guys. I also have Ninjago Lego spinners from Lego (Thanks Lego!) to add in the goody bag. Upon checkout, JD obviously noticed the overflowing baskets of cheap toys and candies. I said “no” to all the candy requests. Then he found a mini plastic camera. When he pushed the button, it flashed. He loved and needed it. I had $42 in favors and a balloon order under my arm, so even though the camera was probably a buck I said, “No, absolutely not. You’re having a party, and you’ll get gifts from family and friends.” “But I want it!” he said in a whiny voice. “Then Uncle Carlo will get it for you on YOUR BIRTHDAY. Put it back!”
He threw a fit. I turned back to the clerk and paid. She said, “Go you, for not giving in!” It felt awesome. I’m awesome. Everything is under control. I can’t tell you how many times JD gets a random car or snack when we’re out running errands. The ice cream at the beach, the mini golf, the rides … The money madness must cease. The bank of mom is closed for withdrawals.
JD climbed into his booster, and when I went to secure the seatbelt across him — that’s when I saw light flash from his fist. “What is in your hand?!” I demanded. “Nothing,” JD said over a sneaky grin. Oh Jesus, my kid shoplifted. I had to peel his fingers, finger by finger to open his fist and there was … the mini freakin’ camera. “Get out of the car now!” I said in a stern, urgent no BS voice. “You stole that. Stealing is against the law!”
I dragged him back into the store. “Tell the nice lady what you did,” I said. JD hid behind me, hugging my thigh. “Now!” I said. “I took this,” he said and held up the mini camera. “What do you say,” I said. “Sorry,” he said in the most pitiful voice. “Now give it back,” I said. JD looked at me like I was speaking Greek. “But I waaaaaant it. Can’t you buy it!?” he asked. “I have no more money,” I said. I grabbed the camera from his hand and handed it back. JD burst into tears. On the way to the Jeep he told me he didn’t like me, I was mean and he hates all his toys at home. I told him I was giving his toys to Timmy, a very poor boy with no mom or dad, no money and minimum food. He lives with a helper in a tent in the woods and sometimes they don’t have toilet paper because they are so poor. Timmy is sad and lonely because he doesn’t have a mom to read to him, doesn’t go to preschool and sometimes only has canned corn for dinner. I looked at JD in the rearview mirror. He looked serious.
“Well where’s his mom and dad? Why doesn’t he have chicken nuggets? Why doesn’t he come to my school? He doesn’t even have one toy?”
“No, he’s very poor and sad and when we get home you’re collecting toys for him and we’re bringing them to his friend’s house (Goodwill).”
“OK, mommy. I’m giving Timmy some of my cars,” he said. “We will bring him pizza too.”
“OK,” I said.
JD has been asking me questions about Timmy all afternoon. He also wanted to know if I was telling Eddie (our next door neighbor) that he stole. Eddie is a cop. I told him I wasn’t sure yet. (I texted Eddie promptly.)
JD is currently collecting toys for Timmy and not getting ice cream after dinner. Throwing down!!