Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Was Always Such A Good Girl

As a mom, one of the most important things to teach my kids is to have a moral compass. In this day and age, we need a strong moral compass considering how many around us do wrong on a daily basis and think nothing of it -- and yes, I'm talking to you mommy at daycare who parks in the handicapped spot because you can't be bothered to park two spots away. Don't you think about what that's teaching your child?

But I digress....

I do my best to make sure the wee ones know right from wrong. To know that it's important for them to feel right about themselves, regardless of what others think or do. And to be content with that.

It's a big mission isn't it? And I really have no idea how to do it other than to show on a daily basis that I believe what I tell them and that it works.

My mom taught me well. In fact, she may have taught me a little too well. I told you before about the guilt I still feel about cheating (ok, I thought I did but I can't find that post so maybe I didn't). I haven't told you yet that I also once stole.

Shockingly, I still feel guilty about it.

But worse... I stole more than once.

Do you remember when we were younger (only those of us in my generation respond please -- I don't want any of that "What are you talking about" stuff from you young folk) and we had those plastic chain necklaces with the plastic charms that we clipped to them?

I had a blue chain. I remember that. And I had a ton of charms. One day, I was in a store that sold the charms. They stored them in bins and bins and bins throughout the middle of the store. There were tons of charms. I was probably in late elementary school, and I'm pretty sure my mom and sister were with me. I saw a rocket ship shaped much like Challenger that I wanted.

I have no idea why I wanted it. And my mom probably would have bought it for me -- eventually, if not that day. But I picked it up and slipped it in my pocket. And we all walked out of the store.

Until me, the good little girl, couldn't stand the guilt. I was maybe five feet out the store when I turned around and ran back into the store to put the little rocket back into its bin. My mom never knew.

I really should have known better.

I'd stolen before. This time, I was younger. I was in fourth grade, and Leslie Field was my best friend. She was an only child, adopted, and her parents truly doted on her. She had her bedroom filled with all sorts of cool toys and a spare bedroom that was her playroom.

By no means was I deprived of anything, but I didn't have quite as much... anything as Leslie did. And I was jealous of her. We were both new in school that year, but she seemed to have an easier time of it than I did, although we were definitely best friends. Apparently as a fourth grader I felt a bit inadequate.

She had one thing (besides the awesomely cool dollhouse) that I didn't have. She had the little gold tin that slid sideways to open to reveal fruit flavored lip balm. My mom would never buy that for me. And Leslie had the watermelon flavored kind.

The generous friend she was, she often shared it with me, and I coveted that lip balm. She kept it on the shelf of her desk in her bedroom. When we were in her playroom one day, I wandered into her bedroom and pocketed the lip balm. She had so much other stuff, she'd never miss it, right? We continued playing with her massively ornate dollhouse.

The next day, she told me that her lip balm was missing. I played the concerned friend and helped her look for it. Secretly, I was triumphant. She didn't suspect a thing.

But... that triumphant feeling didn't last long. Soon I felt guilty. That night, I put the lip balm back into my pocket to return to Leslie. I could admit to her that I'd taken it, but I was a coward. I waited until we were back at her house and then slipped it underneath her chair that converted to a bed. I later "found" it and showed her.

I didn't learn from the first experience, but I certainly did from the second. And in looking back at this, in a weird way, I hope that the wee ones do try to steal when they're young. And I hope that I've somehow managed to do a good enough job in cementing their moral compasses that they realize how icky that makes them feel so that they never steal again.

Hey. It worked for me!


Melisa with one S January 15, 2009 at 7:24 AM  

Nice post!

And I LOVED that little gold tin of lip balm too! I forgot all about those!

My older one has never stolen anything (as far as I know), but my younger one did once, at Michaels craft store. He took some of those little glass beads that you put in a clear vase to make it look pretty. I have a post in draft about it...

I think you're right: as long as you set the moral compass, (which I'm sure you've done just fine on!) they'll feel that nagging guilt if they do steal.

Michelle January 15, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

Melisa - I know. I'd forgotten about that golden tin, too, until I thought about it last night. Do you remember what they're called? I tried to google it and failed miserably. Oooo, you'll have to post that draft, too! Poor kid. How old was he?

Anonymous January 15, 2009 at 9:42 AM  

When I was about 6, I stole a roll of livesavers from the checkout aisle at the hardware store. We were buying treat bags for trick or treating, and I just slipped it into my bag. No one noticed. I lasted all of 30 minutes before the guilt got to me and I tearfully confessed to my mom. She brought me back to the store and had me apologize to the cashier and the owner of the store. (And she was thankfully pretty gentle about it, not angry or shouty.) Mortifying, but effective.

Weaselmomma January 15, 2009 at 10:00 AM  

Great post. It is a big job. As parents we have the huge responsibility of raising them right. All you can do is always set a good example and explain to them that true Character is what you do when no one else is looking.

MaBunny January 15, 2009 at 1:45 PM  

Wow, I liked your honesty. So heres some of mine - I too stole something when I was in Junior high - the very first year my parents bought me a seasons pass to the local amusement park - the girl I went with taught me how to steal little stuff, so we did off and on thru out the day there. Two days later my mom confronted me, tellig me she know aI wasn't good enough at most of those games to have won prizes at all of them.
She cut up my seasons pass and threw out everything I had gotten - even the stuff that was legit...
I learned my lesson and never stole again....

Denyse January 16, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

Yes, we definitely want our children to learn tough lessons now when the stakes are "low" as opposed to when they're older and the consequences can be more devastating.

I remember that lip balm too. ;) My favorite was strawberry.

Cookie January 16, 2009 at 10:42 AM  

I agree it's hard to teach the kids morals.
And my charm necklace was pink ;)

Star Forbis January 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM  

Thank you so much for visiting my Blog and Laughing with me. Come back any time.

Veggie Mom January 16, 2009 at 12:44 PM  

The first lessons-on things like stealing and lying-are the hardest to learn, but once you do, it sticks with you, doesn't it?

Michelle January 16, 2009 at 2:40 PM  

Pseudostoops - That's definitely the way to handle it. Here's hoping that when (note I don't say if) the wee ones get caught stealing, I have the same presence of mind.

Weaselmomma - Thanks! And fingers crossed that the characters of all our kids are exactly what we want them to be.

MaBunny - Wow. That has to have been frightening! And apparently that's another effective way to stop stealing ;)

Denyse - The strawberry was good, too... but I really love the watermelon.

Star Forbis - You're welcome. I hope you enjoyed your day!

Veggie Mom - Ohhhhh yeah. It sticks with you alright!

Melisa with one S January 18, 2009 at 1:20 PM  

Let's see, he was about 5 or 6, I'm guessing.

And I'm gonna have to think about the golden tin for a bit. I know it was something old-fashioned. My sister may know; I'll ask her.

Michelle January 18, 2009 at 9:15 PM  

Melisa - You rock btw -- Lip Lickers. I would NEVER have come up with that. Was it Jules who knew?

Melisa with one S January 18, 2009 at 9:55 PM  

Nope. I totally sat here and searched for it by myself. Never even had to ask her. :)

Truthfully, the search took me literally less than five minutes. The internet is AWESOME.

Michelle January 18, 2009 at 11:18 PM  

Melisa - Can't you at least pretend it was hard? Now I look like a moron for not being able to find it ;) So can you find the most awesome lotion now for super dry winter hands? It hurts to bend my fingers because that stretches the skin.

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