I started this post a few weeks ago, and at our "parenting" class on Monday we discussed this "issue" and a friend (who is in the class as well) asked if I'd blogged it because she'd missed reading it. I obviously have a comical outlook on the situation, despite how ashamed we feel about it. (Yes, WWDD.... "PUSH our feelings aside...")
So back in July we had a garage sale. And down the road there was another large garage sale that had.... scrapbook supplies! I stopped up there with Porter and I let him pick out a sheet of stickers and gave him a dollar to pay the lady. While we were browsing the sale, he'd picked up numerous John Deere items (magnets... a dog leash) and asked to buy them as well. He tried to sell me on this dog leash that he said we neeeeded for our dogs. I declined.
A little while later we had to run Ryan to the doctor to check out his knee (after surgery). While waiting for him in the parking lot I turned around to see Porter holding a package of stickers..... different stickers than the ones he'd purchased. I asked where he got them.... and he said "Oops! I took them from the garage sale."
I was floored. He had stolen! I immediately told him that it is wrong to steal, that he was going to have to go return the stickers to the lady and apologize for stealing her things. He was nervous but I told him that was the only way to make the problem right. We returned the stickers, he meekly walked up to the lady and handed them to her. She thought he wanted to buy them and then he explained that he had taken them without paying and that he was sorry. She thanked him for returning it and we walked back to the van. His head hung down in shame. I told him I was proud of him for returning the stickers and asked how he felt. He said he felt bad because he'd taken the lady's stickers. I told him he should feel bad. It was wrong what he did.
After this we talked a bit about how it we would feel if someone took something of ours (and... coincidentally someone DID steal the boys' Little Tikes car out of our front yard that weekend...). We talked about how it was wrong to steal and that we shouldn't take things that don't belong to us without paying.
Fast forward a week or two and we went to Old Navy. In the checkout lane I catch him trying to put something in his pocket. I ask what it is and its this tiny rubber penguin, clearly a misplaced toy or something from another kid... not an item for sale. I told him he can't just put things in his pocket and that is stealing. I told him he could ask the lady how much it is and we'd see about buying it. He asked, and she told him he could have it.
Then.... a few days later Ryan and Porter are shopping at Menards for some things and are heading to the checkout. Porter tells Ryan "Ok, our cart is full. We can go now... just walk out and don't pay for our stuff." Ryan was astounded and couldn't believe he said that. Again, he reiterated that stealing is wrong, that we can't just take things without paying for them.
And the straw that broke the camel's back.... I was loading the boys into the van and was looking for a truck or something that they'd dropped. What do I find underneath the seat in the van? The freakin John Deere dog leash from the garage sale! Mind you, its been weeks since the sale. I about died. About died right there.
Baaaack to the house we go, me and my kleptomaniac child. We walk up to the house and he again explains he'd taken it and didn't pay and he was sorry. The lady thanked him and gave him a hug and told him he did the right thing by returning it but stealing is wrong. (thank you).
AUGHGH! So, we're in class on Monday and we're talking about how our feelings and beliefs affect how we react to our kids' behaviors. How our beliefs of what our kids are thinking or feeling or what will become of our kids based on their actions, will affect how we react. I brought this situation up and was like "What is going on! Is he a klepto? Why is he doing this? Are we putting too much importance on money (by giving him an allowance and not buying things for him anymore)" Of course D laughed and well, turns out we had a perfect example of the "feelings/beliefs" situation. Luckily, she eased our minds and said basically 4 year olds are liars and stealers. Or... 4 year olds lie and steal, I guess I should say.
Its funny how a phase, a behavior or incident can make a parents mind run wild.... it makes you think the worst and envision the worst case scenarios for the future. Hopefully, by being consistent and keeping on top of him, we will be able to nip this behavior quickly.
Side note: Last week we were at Nixon pool and Hudson was playing with this little girl's sandals from the chair next to us. I noticed the mom glaring at me from the snack area and tried redirecting Hudson back to our chairs. Of course he kept wandering over to pick up her sandals and put them in the beach bag that was on the lounge chair. The lady and her kids came back and I told Hudson to come back over by me. The lady said "We aren't using that chair over there. He can sit there. But if you could not let him take things out of our bag, that would be great." She said it so snottily. And he was not taking anything out of her bag... he just kept trying to put the girl's sandals in the bag. After the lady walked back to the pool, LeeAnn and I shot eachother a snarky look. She says to me "You should have told her.... he's not a problem. It's my other son you should worry about stealing out of your bag." HAHAHAH!