Friday, November 17, 2006

There Comes A Time...

Update at the End

... in every young child’s life when are caught breaking the 8th commandment. For one young four-year-old I know, that time is today.

Friday is my standing lunch date with Emma. I picked her up to take her to JC Penneys to get some knit pants. She fights having to wear anything else most of the time and I’m tired of fighting that battle. On the drive to the mall, Emma announced: "I got a bear in my pocket from the Treasure Box." [the incentive program for good behavior in Emma’s classroom]

"What did you do to get that?" I didn’t realize that the kids got to pick a prize so early in the day. I thought it was an end of the day type of thing. I was curious.

"Because I have been so good." Had that conversation stopped here, I wouldn’t have thought anything else of it. The conversation didn’t end there. "But don’t tell Miss E. or Miss M."

That got my attention. If anyone was going to reward her from the Treasure Box, it would be either E or M. "Emma, did a grown up tell you that you could pick a prize?"

Looking in the rearview mirror, I could tell that what was to come would be a complete fabrication. "Yes."

"Did you ask for the bear?"


"Taking something without asking is stealing. That is a very unkind thing to do. Are you sure you didn’t take the bear without asking?"

"Uh... huh."

The funny thing about this is that I could also tell by her expressions and body language that she thought she was getting away with it. She was completely at ease. "Who did you ask for the bear?"

"Miss K."

I dropped the subject as we pulled into the mall and I found a parking spot. After I got her out of the van I asked, "Emma, who did you ask about the bear again?"

"Miss C."

"Emma, don’t tell me things that aren’t true. The first time you told me that Miss K gave you permission. Why did you take the bear without asking?"

Emma never really admitted that she did steal the bear. She kept looking down at the ground and got into her whining, grumpy mode.

"When we get back to school, you are going to give that bear back to Miss E and you are going to tell her what you did and say that you are sorry. How would you feel if she came into your room and took something of yours without asking?"

She made her typical "leave me alone" grunt noise as we started walking to the store. "I don’t want to give the bear back. L has one and she’s not going to give it back. She’s going to take hers home."

I was not at all shocked to hear that L was involved in this little scheme. "I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to give the bear back and tell Miss E that you are sorry and will never steal from the Treasure Box again."

"When I say sorry, I’m going to say it really quiet."

"You’ll either have to whisper it into Miss E’s ear or say it loud enough for her to hear. It hurts people’s feelings when you take things from them. You need to apologize using your manners."

She didn’t say anything else about it the entire time we were out. We went through the drive-thru for lunch on the way back because time was running short. I wanted to ensure that I had enough time to address the issue appropriately.

As we drove into the parking lot of her daycare, Emma said, "Mommy, do you want to know how I’m going to apologize to Miss E?"

A feeling of pride washed over me. She must have been thinking about what she did while we were shopping. "Yes, how are you going to apologize?"

"Like this." She then mouthed the word sorry.

Pride evaporated. "Emma, you are going to say that you’re sorry loud enough for Miss E to hear you."

"But Mommy, it’s nap time. I don’t want to make the class wake up."

"We can go somewhere with Miss E so that you can use your normal voice."

As I was punching my access code to get into the building Emma said, "I’m not going to apologize." She didn’t say it defiantly. It was her last ditch effort to get out of it.

"I’m sorry, but you are."

Unfortunately, Miss E was on her lunch break when we got back. Miss M was subbing in the room today because Mr. D had the day off. We’re close to Miss M. She’s even babysat the girls on a couple of occassions. I told Miss M what happened and made Emma give her the bear. When I saw the bear, this entire incident became even more funny to me. I wanted to say to her: "If you’re going to steal something, steal something worth the trouble!" Why would you steal a green, hard plastic bear that wasn’t even an inch tall? Anyway, Miss M ensured me that she would make sure that Emma apologized to Miss E.

I then got on my knees so that I was at Emma’s eye level. I wanted her to know that she was still a good girl but that she had made a bad decision. She wouldn’t look me in the eye no matter how hard I tried to get her to do it. I told her that everyone steals something when they are little. It’s one of those lessons you have to learn the hard way. I don’t know if she was listening to what I was saying or not. I hope that she at least heard me tell her that I loved her. It’s important to know that your parents love you even when you messed up. Miss M had Emma lay down for her nap by her chair and she set the bear on a shelf right in Emma’s line of view. She started to ask Emma questions about our lunch, but I could tell that Emma was sad as I walked away.

It’s good that you live as a child before you become a parent. How can you not empathize because you have been there before? Although I didn’t get caught, I remember very distinctly my dabble into stealing. Coincidently, it occurred during my preparation for making my first Reconciation. We were at a local grocery store and I asked my dad if I could have a Marathon bar. He said no. So, I picked one up, sneaked down a few aisles from him, opened and ate it. I have no idea why someone didn’t see what I was doing. How do you conceal eating a braid shaped candy bar filled with caramel and covered in chocolate? Had I been discovered, I would have been mortified. Still, I didn’t get off scott free. As it turns out, my parents had invited Deacon Chuck over for dinner that night. I spent the whole dinner wondering if I should tell him even though I wasn’t technically cleared to make a confession. It was an evening full of anxiety. I never worked up the courage to talk to him. It didn’t end there, either. I felt the guilt every time I saw or went into that store. The only thing I could think of when I saw Deacon Chuck was that candy bar. I think that the initial mortification would be better. I can’t remember if I ever did confess about that...


Emma lied about getting the bear out of the Treasure Box. It was one of the "counting bears" that are out in the play area. Boy, she came up with a whopper the first time out of the box.

When I picked her up, I looked in her pocket. There was 6 cents in it. She said that Miss E. gave it to her at first. When I kept looking her in the eye she said, "I'll give it back, but I won't apologize." I made her do both. Apparently she found it in a cubby or something. Ahh... Just when I thought that parenting was complicated enough...


Mark said...

Of course I am horrified to learn that you stole that Marathon bar... and here I thought you were the pillar of perfection... but, I suppose you made up for it by handling the situation with Emma so well!

I'll keep my fingers crossed that this is her only theft... you can keep yours crossed that I'm not raising a couple of kleptomaniacs.

Trista said...

oh, man! working on a hard lesson at 4 already!

it's good you're showing her you're serious about lying by making her so accountable. great job! i hope i don't have to follow your example for a long time ;)