Monday, March 1, 2010

Right and Wrong

I bought these new crayons for my boys, 24 ct. Mini Twistables Crayons. I bought them right before the big blizzards up here because I knew I was going to need something new to keep them occupied if we were snowed in for any length of time (ha!).

I was pretty excited when I found theme because we have a major crayon problem in these parts, namely that my dogs eat them like they're Snausages. They've got a pack a week habit and while crayons are exactly pricey, it does add up when you have to buy a new box every week. Since these crayons are sheathed in plastic, they are basically safe from becoming doggie delights.

The boys love them. About a week and a half ago, right after the kids around here finally went back to school, Oscar and Danny were coloring with them while I fixed lunch. As they were eating, I picked up the crayons and put them away. I just so happened to count them, because I was wondering how many we'd lost. Still 18 out of the original 24; not bad for two weeks.

That afternoon, Nora came over after school and she decided to color with the crayons, and that is of course fine. Nora is the 8-year-old I watch for a couple of hours in the afternoons after school, I think I've mentioned her before.

Anyways, she colored for a while and then she came into the living room to play with the boys. I went into dining room to pick up the crayons (if you are wondering about the excessive picking up, it's because of the cat - she'll knock the crayons off the table and all over the floor; I trip on them; they get lost underneath furniture, etc.). Well, I couldn't help but notice there were significantly less crayons than there were three hours ago when I first put them away.

Then I noticed that Nora's pencil case was on the table. The pencil case was clear on the ends, and I could very clearly see that new crayons were in the case. She'd taken the crayons. So I called her into the dining room.

"Nora? What happened to the other half of these crayons?"

"Umm, that's all that were in the bag. Those are all I used."

And then she snatched her pencil case and put it in her bag. Sigh.

"Are you sure? Because when the boys were coloring earlier there were twice as many. You can even see in these pictures they drew - not all the colors that they used are here now. And I put them away myself and I counted them."

I was trying to give here a chance to admit she'd taken them.

"No, that's all that were there."

"Hmm. Do you have any crayons like these?"

"No. Well, at my mom's house, but not here."

"Okay, well I know there were more, so why don't you help me look for them?"

So, even though I knew they were in her pencil case in her bag, we "looked" for the crayons. We didn't find them.

I really wanted to give Nora a chance to do the right thing and give back the crayons instead of just busting her straight out. And, maybe I should have just busted her, but that's not what I did.

"Okay, boys, potty time. Nora, I'm taking the boys upstairs to use the potty. We'll be back down in a few minutes."


Potty time was the perfect excuse to give her several minutes to herself. While I was upstairs, wrestling with Oscar she called to me, "Miss Jenni! I found six more crayons!"

"You did?! Where were they?"

"Uhhh, on the back of my chair."

"That's great, Nora. Thank you."

Let me tell you why this is b.s. The back of her chair? Is open. And sloping. It's one of those old 50s plastic covered chairs. No way could crayons have been on the chair and not slipped right off, particularly not crayons sheathed in plastic. Also, I'd checked the chairs when she and I were "looking."

She "found" the crayons, but not all of them. I was more certain than ever that she'd taken them and was still holding on to a few. Crap.

The boys wanted to stay upstairs and play cars, so I asked Nora if she wanted to come up and play cars; she did. Then I ran downstairs to "get their drinks" and I checked her bag.

I feel really, really bad about invading her privacy that way, but I was 99.9% certain she was still holding on to a few crayons. And she was.

I called Nelson and told him what happened. He thought I should let her know she was busted, but to keep the situation between she and I and not tell her Dad. I thought about it for awhile. I thought about just letting it go. It's just crayons, right? I though about busting her, but not ratting her out to her Dad, so she'd know that I'd known and was giving her a pass. But, ultimately I decided to go a different way.

I went back upstairs.

"Nora, I found the rest of your crayons."

Her face fell. I instantly felt guilty.

"You did?"

"Yes, I did. They were in your bag."

"Oh, uh uh.."

"Before you try to make an excuse, you should know that I saw them in your pencil case before you put it back in your bag. I know that you took them."


"I think that taking things that do not belong to you is very serious, even if it is just crayons. I try to have nice things for all of you kids to share, and it is not okay for you to take those things."


"Nora, are you sorry that you took them?"

"Yes. Sorry."

(Okay, I'm pretty sure she's was mostly sorry she got caught, but anyways.)

"Well, thank you for apologizing. But, because I think taking things that do not belong to you is so serious, you are going to have to tell your dad what you did when he comes to pick you up today."


"Okay, Nora?"

"Yeah, okay."

Now, before you think I was being just mean, I was really just trying to give her the opportunity to fess up to her Dad and tell him the truth, so it would not feel like I was just tattling on her.

When her Dad arrived to pick her up, he and I discussed a few things - she wouldn't be coming tomorrow, maybe not Monday, etc. Then he said good-bye and I said, "Nora, don't you have something you need to tell your Dad?"

He looked at me curiously, but quickly realized something had happened.

Nora burst into tears.

Her Dad gently encouraged her to tell him what happened, but after about two minutes he asked her, "Nora, are you going to tell me what happened?" and she said, "No."

So, I told him the story I relayed above, and he was very apologetic, and very thankful that I'd told him.

"I just want to be clear that I realize it was only crayons. I think Nora is a very good girl; she does her homework; she's sweet to the boys. I just think she made a mistake. I'm telling you because, as a parent, if my child had taken something no matter how small, I'd want to know"

"I know, and I appreciate that. I'm really glad you told me, because it doesn't matter what it was that she took. This is where this kind of behavior starts, and this is where I can stop it."

And I think that is right and the absolutely right response from him as a parent, and that's why I told him. Because if it was so easy to take something from someone she knows and who trusts her, what is to stop her from taking a pack of gum from the grocery store or a pair of earrings from Target?

I felt pretty guilty about ratting her out, because her dad is strict and I'm sure she was punished (appropriately so, but still). After processing it all with Danny's mom Susanne (that's for wearing your social working hat for me, Susanne!) I know I did the right thing and I hope Nora is better for it.

(Disclosure: If you buy those awesome crayons via my link? I get about 5 cents. Thanks.)


Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

You're now on Nora's shitlist for when she grows up to be a serial burgular. Install security cameras now ; )

You are awesome for handling it that way! I would be mortified if my kid did that and would have wanted to be told too!

Anonymous said...

Hats off to you Jen - you handled it PERFECTLY. Nora may be mad at you now, but she'll thank you some day.

Jan from the Sushi Bar

Barbara said...

Well done you, sounds like you handled it perfectly. I know that as a parent I would certainly want to know if either of mine took anything - like he said, he has the power to stop it now before it gets entrenched.

Strawberry said...

You are the queen of "teachable moments"!

VandyJ said...

Handled in just the right way. We have had to do the same thing with Turbo, only it was a hot wheels car.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully done, Jenni. While I hope that I teach my kids well enough that they never try to pull something like that, if the situation ever happens, I hope it's dealt with as gracefully as this was.

Big Mama Cass said...

I think you did the right thing, and her dad was absolutely right, this is where is starts and this is where he can stop it.

On another note... I bet your backyard has a very COLORFUL array of doggie bombs! LOL

Sprite's Keeper said...

Wrong is wrong. You handled it RIGHT!
Kudos to you!

Captain Dumbass said...

You should have went all bad cop.

Mrsbear said...

Sounds like an awkward situation, you did good though. Even with something as small as crayons, it definitely shouldn't have been overlooked. I'm sure Nora wasn't your biggest fan after the fact, but it was in her best interest to get called on it.

Ha! And my word verification is "badish"...

"Nora was badish when she swiped the cool crayons from Jenni."


Heather said...

I can't believe it's been that long since I stopped by your have a new picture! I love perfectly captures the chaos (and they are SO cute)!

I completely agree with how you handled that situation. As a parent, I too would want to know about what happened so it could be corrected right away...just like her Dad said. It's better for her to be learning these lessons now at this age than when serious repercussions come into play.

Casey said...

I'm glad her dad was cool about it and did the thing a RESPONSIBLE parent would do. Too often, parents defend their kids to the end, even when their kid is in the wrong. You handled this perfectly, giving her a chance to fess up and then being fair when she didn't.

Veronica Foale said...

Very well handled imo. And yay for her having a reposible father. No doubt she's going to feel so bad about the crayons that she won't do it again. And that's always a good thing.