Friday, May 09, 2008


Sometimes life throw you for a curve. Unexpected events happen and they veer you off the course of your normal everyday or of your plans. Some weeks those curves just come one after another, and you are left at the end of the week drained physically and emotionally, and ever more aware of your dependence on the Lord. This has been one of those weeks.

In the midst of previously scheduled activities, garden planting, and preparing to meet a daughter I haven't seen for nineteen years, life just kept throwing me one unexpected event after another. There was a trip to the vet, a search for a wayward calf, information about people from my not so pleasant past, and a power outage, but the most unexpected of all the events was the discovery of a stolen children's item in my van.

I found the item in the hatch of my van one evening while looking for something else. It still had the tags on and was from a store that we had been to that day. I didn't want to believe that it had been stolen, but I could think of no other reasonable explanation. The item was decidedly something that half of my children would have no interest in, so I knew there were only two I needed to talk to.

I showed Tim and together we confronted the children. As soon as the child saw the item there was a confession. So much for my slim chance of hope that there was some other explanation. I was sad and angry all at the same time. Why would they do this? Where did I go wrong? How did I not notice this at the store? What was this child thinking? Is this the start of even more problems?

I didn't know what to say. It was bedtime and the child was already in bed. We both gave stern words, and promised there would be consequences in the morning. The child was in tears, and was completely apologetic. We decided that the child would return the item and explain to the store what they had done. The child also received a firm paddle. Was that enough?

The first thing we did the next day was head to the store. Child says to me, "I don't want to go to jail. I want to stay with you and daddy." I explained that jail was probably not something that would happen. To which child says, "What if the store calls the police?" I could only respond, "Then I guess you'll have to talk to the police." When other children asked why we were going to the store again, child humbly explained what they had done.

As we waited in line at they store child was talking to themselves. I asked what they were saying. They were telling them self to be brave. When we got up to the clerk, child quickly explained what they had done and apologized while returning the item. I don't think the clerk knew what to do. She looked surprised and then said she was glad we brought the item back. I'm sure child was relieved to not have to talk to the police.

The punishment may seem a bit light, but I do know the whole experience left quite the impression on the child and the siblings. I do not think the child will do this again, and I hope the siblings have learned a lesson too.

It has been a week of unexpected.


  1. Oh no. That stinks. I did the same thing as a kid. I still know the reasons I did it. I knew it was wrong when I did it, too. I just didn't have any power over my current circumstances.
    I was really hoping you were going to say that the stolen item was a clarinet. Sue still hasn't found it.

  2. I think you probably did it just right. It sounds like an impulse thing and I think the whole taking it back to the store definitely made an impression. I think if it was truly a deliberate premeditated thing, you wouldn't have gotten an immediate confession. Hope this week goes better!

  3. We have had that happen at least once with each of our older children so far, and did exactly the same thing you did , a spanking, returning the item to the store, and explaining / apologizing. It seems to have worked so far.

  4. I think you and Tim handled that perfectly...especially the paddling part.

    Like Crystal I did it too as a kid, though my greatest fear was that they'd call my priest. My family never found out.

  5. I don't know whether the parenting books would say you were right or not, but I know that sounds exactly like what Yankee Bill and I would have done in the same situation.

  6. I'm sure you did the right thing. I had a newphew who stole a t-shirt from a t-shirt party we were at and i took him back in the house to his mother to show her what he did and his grandmother said he really liked that t=shirt so she bought it for him.Now he is 34 years old and still stealing and lying and his grandmother still sticks up for him.

  7. Crystal,
    I can't believe Sue hasn't found that!

    thanks for the support everyone!

  8. Stephanie, is the child in question around age seven or eight? Stealing is a common thing during this age. I went through it, and years later, read about it in some child development article. I've seen it in a few other places as well.

    It took one big scare like the one your child had as a consequence, and that was enough to stop me. I'll never forget how guilty I felt! I think you did a good thing.

  9. Amy - Greenplant5/23/08, 12:51 PM

    I think your punishment was just right. When I was a kid, when I did something wrong, my parents rarely had to punish me very much because I would feel so very bad. Sometimes kids beat themselves up over things much worse than what we as parents could ever inflict (without being horribly violent).

    Anyway, I just stumbled upon your blog while looking for inspiration for being sustainable/homesteading. It's many years off for us to reach that point because living in Las Vegas is severely limiting for growing and such. We'll see. :)

    Looking forward to reading your adventures.