Did I (unknowingly) teach my oldest daughter to steal?
The other day a boy from our local High School was going door-to-door with one of those obnoxious fundraisers for his baseball team. This happens often in our suburban neighborhood. I usually feel obligated to help out. Not because I know one day, my two daughters will likely be in those same shoes. But more importantly – I feel inclined to help out the kids that are doing their own work. NOT THE PARENTS. I despise when parents take over these fundraisers for their kids - pushing the responsibility onto their family, friends, and co-workers. And now, these solicitations are popping up all over Facebook. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned. But there’s supposed to be a level of responsibility taught, in addition to funds collected. I write a lot about parental obligations and sending mixed messages to our children. I’m certainly not perfect – but don’t go out of your way to help your children cheat. If there’s a certain dollar amount they need to attain. Then teach a man to fish – so to speak.
I will make an exception for Girl Scout Cookies. Because me love cookies!!! They are delicious. And I don’t want to insult every co-worker I’ve ever had.
Now, back to the lecture at hand. This was one of those sticky-peely restaurant coupon type deelios. You know, the ones that have about a dozen restaurants on them; nine of which aren’t located anywhere near you. As the acne filled pubescent young fella fearfully stared back at me, anticipating common rejection – I took in a very deep breath, and sarcastically exhaled a very large, dramatic breath, translating it into an intended frustrated sigh. But, not with, nor directed at acne-boy. But rather with myself, because I just can’t say no. I need to make sure my fundraiser karma is on the up-and-up for future years. And this kid is obviously being raised properly. I can’t wait to torment my girls with perfecting their sales pitch. Briefcase, handshake, eye-contact and all.
So here’s where the tomthievery comes into play. I stow the dog, so she doesn’t make a Michael Scofield-esque escape attempt out the front door. I fumbled around the kitchen and the junk drawers looking for my wallet. I find the wallet. Of course, it’s empty. All I need is $10. Surely, I can locate $10 somewhere in this over-priced, depreciating home? I JUST had $37 dollars. Where did it go? I find my wallet and it’s empty of that precious $37. Coincidentally, $37 is equally as important when you’re a parent; as it is when you’re acne-boy on my doorstep soliciting for cash. $37 is pretty much rich, in “parent dollars.” “Parent Dollars” are like “Dog Years” because you need $7 to have $1. It makes sense – I promise. (Okay – full disclosure. I’m not sure it makes sense, but, let’s just not think about it.) I quickly check the giant Miller Genuine Draft coin collector. You know, because we’re classy and stuff. Also to no avail. It was showing signs of being recently ravished as its coin color was primarily a dirty, rusty orange. Seemed to be filled with only lousy, useless, copper pennies. Pennies are no longer appropriate for a guitar case or tin cup offering in the street. Even Jesus would have been offended. Pennies are more like a filthy choking hazard, than any kind of financial up-boost. Why do they even exist? I blame Sally Struthers. After all, the original piggy bank was designed in her image. I’m out of ideas. I’m going to have to tell this poor hard-working kid – NO.
But wait … I couldn’t. Or could I? No, I’d never forgive myself. Well, I could always pay her back. Yeah… It’s time to hit the lowest of the low. It’s time to crack open HER
Sally Struthers piggy bank.
Now, she’s almost four-years-old. Not only is she at my feet 100% of the time, and especially whenever I’m using them. She also seeks my narration for every literal step along the way. George Clooney couldn’t pull off this heist. Unfortunately for me; at this juncture; my only option is honesty.
I look at her as I take a long painful swallow of pride. “Maria, Daddy needs to borrow some money from your piggy bank to pay that boy. Is that okay?”
Being the sweetheart she is, or the fact it’s in her genetics to spend money. She was very excited to help out. Elated, actually! Perhaps, she was thrilled to help, because she got to help out, in a way she had never before. With real impact and power. To assist the family in obtaining a peeler-card, with impending expiration through lack of use. OR, that she just gets to open her piggy bank. When you’re a toddler that’s right up there with swing sets, candy, and smearing poop on the walls.
She quickly runs to the piggy bank; Grabs the piggy bank; Then hands the piggy bank… to acne boy. The look on his face was pretty priceless when some 3-foot tall princess was trying to hand him a 10-pound pink pig with polka dots. I smiled – said “sorry” and redirected Maria (and piggy) to an open area on the floor where we could hunt through the dirty treasure.
I wasn’t sure exactly what we’d find. I mean, of course we’d find coins. Maybe a few one-dollar bills I’d slipped in there for when she was an extra good girl. Maybe construction paper, a drawing, hair-tie, probably hair, maybe a bobby-pin or even some Monopoly money. After much buildup and anticipation what we found made me question everything I thought I knew over the last 4 minutes, or 4 years. I found a wadded up handful of various dollar bills. At first, I assumed that this was her mother’s doing. As I counted this mystery wad of bills, I saw a $10 bill which would be perfect for paying off acne-boy. Thus, removing me of previous feelings of guilt. While I was very thankful – that the piggy bank had appropriate funds to bail me out. I was quite disturbed to learn the wad of bills added up to exactly $37.