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!