When I was three, I got caught stealing a magazine from the checkout at the grocery store. I would have gotten away with it too had I decided to read it quietly in the back seat like I had planned. But my brother annoyed me so, instead of reading it, I rolled it up and gave him a good beating.
When mom asked me where I got the magazine, I lied and said I found it. My brother promptly tattled on me, and I was marched straight back into the store and was forced to return it and apologize to the cashier. I was so humiliated; I never gave in to my sticky fingers again.
The Beast is only 13 months old and he seems to have inherited my sticky fingers as he has already stolen twice from two separate big box stores.
The first thievery took place a few months ago. I let him hold a book we were going to buy as long as he promised to give it to me when we got to the checkout. Well…he forgot. I found it discreetly nestled in his car seat when we got home.
I wrestled with my conscience as to what to do with it. It WAS stolen, no matter how innocent the act. But at the same time, no alarm went off and no one would ever notice it was gone. Plus, it was still winter (even though the calendar said spring), and I really didn’t feel like bundling up The Beast again to go back and pay for it. So I decided to just keep it.
My mom’s lesson so many years ago must have stuck, because all afternoon my conscience kept pestering me as I had day-mares about getting caught with the magazine when I was little. By supper time, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was time to pay forward the lesson my mom had taught me. So off we went, The Beast and I, to the big stupid box store to turn ourselves in.
We got out our receipt along with the stolen goods and sheepishly went to the customer service counter. As we made our way into the store, I carefully crafted what I was going to say.
“Mysonstolethis,” I blurted. “He’s really sorry and he’ll never steal again.”
This type of confessional worked when I was three, so I expected it to do the trick again. Instead, the cashier stared at me in disbelief, and then looked at my infant in his car seat. Not only was he strapped into a five point harness, but he was in a snowsuit that turned him into an immobilized starfish.
“How?” she asked with her snotty teenager face.
“Well…I don’t…know…he just did,” I stumbled.
“He’s a baby,” she stated very matter-of-factly.
I leaned in and whispered, “Don’t be fooled. He’s not as innocent as he looks.”
“Shnee?!” The Beast said as he sweetly giggled at the unpleasant employee.
“He can’t move,” she said with candor. “So how did he get the book?”
“Well, I gave it to him,” I confessed.
“And then you didn’t pay for it,” she accused.
“Well…he…” I started.
“And now you’re blaming your baby,” she continued.
“Well it’s not so black and white,” I bumbled.
“I’m going to need a manager,” she said.
“I’m going to need a lawyer,” I said.
The manager arrived on the crime scene and the teenager recounted the story. I could hear her using phrases like ‘stolen property’ ‘blaming her baby’ and ‘alleged accident’. Eventually the manager concluded it was all a big misunderstanding. She let us pay for the stolen book, and told the disgruntled employee to take her break. The sassy teenager and I exchanged dirty looks, and The Beast and I were on our way.
Fast forward to today, and I find myself in a similar predicament. It seems the lesson I handed down to my son didn’t stick.
We took The Beast grocery shopping at daybreak. When we got home, Husband and I congratulated ourselves for sticking strictly to the list and remembering everything on it. Like always, The Beast started to tear everything out of the bags until he found an inviting stick of deodorant. He was happily gnawing away on the casing, when I realized it was not the deodorant I picked out for myself. Apparently, it was the deodorant The Beast picked out for HIM self.
“Oh no…” I said.
“What?” Husband asked.
“Sticky Fingers strikes again.”
And now I’m in a terrible dilemma.
Do I return the stolen deodorant with the chewed up casing only to be shamed by another teenage know-it-all just to re-teach The Beast a lesson? Or do I keep the stolen deodorant, use it guilt free, and laugh heartily in the face of big box stores?
Ugh, never frigging mind. I know the frigging answer.
If the lesson doesn’t stick, then the fingers are sure to stick again.
That was deep.
Now where’s my frigging receipt?