I, like many people, have a host of fears.
Large dogs, confined spaces, the dentist, whip cream… Yes, whip cream. We don’t have time for explaining that just now.
One of my biggest fears is being tackled by a loss prevention officer on my way out of an establishment. Big, big fear. It has a root, but that’s also a story for a different day.
So imagine my horror at my children’s new pastime: STEALING.
Ok, not so much stealing, but eating things in the grocery store when I’m not looking in a manner that mirrors something from a hungry squirrel cartoon; stashing and stuffing.
The first time they did it, I noticed a very minty aroma emanating from the back seat of our Volkswagen. I turned around to see a mountain of wrappers, two wide eyed “not me” faces and of course, they’d swallowed all the evidence.
I went slack jawed, and they cued the “he did it,” “no, he did it” routine instantly.
I took them home, sat them in their “Naughty” chairs and explained why we don’t take things mommy didn’t pay for. I asked them why they had snuck the gum. I even threw the “Jesus is sad when you steal” card out.
They seemed, as all children do when they’re caught red handed, to be genuinely remorseful. I took them at their word, gave them 15 minutes chair time and released them on their own recognizance.
Then, a few days later, As I was comparing sirloin vs. filet for dinner, I noticed Mino - ever the repeat offender of the broken record “sit down, don’t talk to strangers, don’t touch that,” rotation in the store - slumped to the side of the cart. He caught my gaze and said “I’m tired.”
Let me tell you something you already know if you’re a mom. If you aren’t, take mental note for when you are.
You KNOW when your kids are lying.
You can almost taste it. Or smell it. You feel it in your bones like an old ache before it rains.
The story teller’s pants were on fire. Again.
I pushed him aside and found a half eaten oatmeal creme cookie pie. You know the one.
Now imagine me, fresh off of work, professional garb, open cookie in hand, curated mother’s “who did this” glare. A modern day wild west style stand off in the aisle. There were no words because… Well there were just no words.
And then imagine my children, looking at each other as if it was rehearsed, and then me, and then each other… and 3, 2, 1, cue meltdown.
“He did it!”
“No you did it!”
“He made me eat it! “
“You may not, you liar!”
"No you lie!"
Keep your composure woman… public store, public store…
And then Nelly pounced on Mino, or maybe Mino onto Nelly?
This all happened in seconds so excuse me if my memory is a little blurry.
So there I am, there they are, cart just a-rocking with their wrestling.
I grabbed a collar on each of them and yanked them apart, temper still in check - pats on the back for me because this, ohhhhh this was a sight.
I had to again remind myself that the small squirrels… I’m sorry, small people - don’t really understand the concept of stealing. Or money for that matter. I mean, just last week Mino told me if I crashed the car, we could just go to the car lot at the light we were at and get a car. Oh if only life worked so simply. It seems to be really nice in the bubble I’ve made for them.
I threw what was left of the goods in the trash and paid for their half eaten cookie, of course. I didn’t want to be tackled after all.
I have no witty closing for this anecdote. But I will say that if you see me picking up trash in an orange jumpsuit, it may just be because of a hostess cake.