My 3 year old is a thief! And a damn fine thief she is too.
Yesterday, we were having a dander around a local shopping centre. Mini-Me was being perfectly behaved in her buggy, allowing me the rare pleasure of looking around clothes shops. It was heavenly.
We went into a card shop and as I stood at the till, she was happily singing to herself and swinging her super-long legs. Being a responsible Mammy, I moved the pram back so that she wouldn’t knock the little Yankee Candles off their shelf.
The shop assistant cooed down at her, telling her she was a lovely girl, then continued the usual chit chat as she packed up my purchases. And so, off we trotted to Marks and Sparks.
“Isn’t this lovely?” I think to myself, pleased and slightly smug that Mummy and daughter are finally at that lovely stage of being able to go shopping together without theatrics and tantrums. She’s obviously enjoying herself too.
She’s content and quiet, which, come to think of it, is very unusual…suspicious even.
I stop and step around to look at my sweet, innocent angel, only to see her grinning at me over the top of a pink Yankee Candle. I’m shocked and outraged at once, but all I can do is laugh.
“Where did you get that?” I ask, with my Mummy is serious voice.
“It’s PINK and I neeeeeed it.” Comes the reply.
“Sweetie, that’s not ours. You can’t lift stuff out of shops. You’ll get Mammy in trouble”.
She looks bothered.
Holding the evidence up to her pudgy wee nose, she sniffs dramatically before announcing, “Mmmmmm! Smells Taysteeee!” And giving me her sweetest smile.
What does one do when they catch their toddler stealing? I felt like every passer by knew that we’d been shop lifting. I had sudden visions of the shop assistant arriving with three burly security guards, pointing her accusing finger, declaring “That’s her! There with the buggy!” I could see the headline “Mother uses toddler to steal Yankee Candle!”
So I did what I knew I had to. I told Princess that we’d have to take it back to the lady in the shop. She protested of course, but I marched (OK pushed) the little criminal right back to the card shop.
There was a different girl on the till this time. “What do we have to do now?” I asked Madam. She held the offending article up to the Assistant.
I quickly explained that she’d lifted it while I was paying for cards a few minutes earlier. Shop assistant barely looked up, took it back with a “Grand love.” And that was that.
I was a bit disappointed to be honest. Where was my gratitude? Where was my praise for being such a moral and good person? Where was my award for teaching the toddler that sometimes you must face up to mistakes that you make, and sometimes you have to make things right?
It’s in the same place as all those other mummy awards…it’s sitting in the pram. I walked away knowing that we’d done a good thing and that Karma would be happy with us, even if no one else cared. It might have only been a tiny candle, but it wasn’t ours.
But the person who learned the most valuable lesson was me. Keep a closer eye on my little Sticky Fingers if I don’t want to be Shoplifting Mum again!