What is it worth?


Our five -year old is a thief. (* Edit)

I drink coffee in the morning and because I don’t want to kill the children I pick up on the bus with my dragon breath I chew gum. Last Saturday morning I woke up to both my children giving me sweet, berry scented hugs.

“Why do you smell like that?”

“Well, because Saebra got some of your gum and gave it to me. She said it was OK.”

“So now the word of a 5 year-old is law?”

“She said it was OK!”

“Saebra, where did you get the gum?”

“From your purse.”

“Did you ask if you could have that gum?”

“No. I just wanted it, and I wanted sissy to have some, too.”

Then we had a nice long talk about how bad stealing was, we reminded them of the Golden Rule, reiterated the extreme badness of stealing, dealt with, what we thought at the time, were tears of guilt and reassurances that we were understood and we went along our day.

On Monday a letter came home from school. Saebra had stolen a pack of gum out of the backpack of her only real friend. This friend had shared a piece with her at recess and when they came back into the classroom Seabra liberated the rest of the pack from her friend and put it in her own bag, because she knew she would want more, “It was SO good Mama!”, and because she thought her sister would like some. She got caught waiting in bus line because she could not wait to get home to take it out of her own bag and her friend saw her holding it and told the teacher.

She wrote a letter of apology to her friend – a saint of a girl who has totally forgiven Saebra and continues to be her friend – and her punishments were decided.

For the next 14 days she has no computer time, she may not watch any movies, she is confined to her room when she is home and she had to give up a sleep over at my Mom’s house that was scheduled during that time. We dealt with many many, what we thought at the time, tears of guilt, reminded her how horribly bad stealing was and the Golden Rule and sent her off to her room to begin her sentence.

(Thursday and Friday of this week they were not in school. Thursday was jampacked with dentist appts and my nephew’s birthday and yesterday was Good Friday but I had to work, so they had been with me for the last 48 hours. They were not good during this time. There was much sassing, there was much breaking of the rules while on my bus – no standing, no roughhousing, no yelling, no throwing objects…yada yada yada. They are currently restricted to their beds on a “no talking unless you are asked a question” rule till tomorrow)

This morning I woke up to Saebra’s lovely minty fresh breath. It’s not from toothpaste.

I feel like a horrible mother.

* I was handed this a bit ago


translated by her sister 



6 thoughts on “What is it worth?

  1. oh, dear– the categories ‘family, horror, parenting’ make my heart sink! that gum, irresistible gum — you are doing your best and are a lovely mother. hugs,

  2. I am a big fan of restitution. When one of the kids stole from “the cents shop” where their Grandpa took them to spend their quarters, I made the offending child return to the scene of the crime, apologize to the store owner, and pay for the consumed candy. Immaterial that the offender was 6. He knew better. It worked. The store owner thanked him for being honest, and asked him to not take things again without paying first, I pointed out how easy things are when we’re honest and take responsibility for when we do wrong.

    How’s that for a comment? No staccato there…

  3. AWWWW! They are priceless beyond words Sara! I know it’s hard when you don’t feel like your point is being taken and your sage advice heeded. You are most certainly NOT a terrible mother! I stole gum when I was her age and, as the above commenter wrote, I had to return it with apologies and had the whole honesty is always the best policy conversation with my parents.

    *technically, I can see how Saebra wouldn’t have recognized taking gum from your purse as stealing. Even though taking something without asking is the general rule of thumb for stealing, I suppose. But she probably figured you’d have given it to her anyway. You’re doing the right things, just give it time to blossom. Your scissor lesson stuck here at my house;)

  4. I don’t know of anything that feels much worse to a parent than when one’s child steals. Believe me, I know as many years ago I was right there…and it was more than a pack of gum. Besides incredible rage, I felt that I had either done something profoundly bad, or I had neglected to give my child something that was of utmost importance. I felt like a huge failure. You are doing a good job and you are a wonderful parent..and it will all work out!

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