Thursday, November 13, 2008

Finders keepers, not as clear cut as it may seem

Mini Me ran downstairs the other night, pretty excited over something. She handed me a dictionary and said, "Look inside."

What I found was a ten dollar bill. She asked if she could keep it. I told her that it's probably someone's birthday money that they stashed and forgot about. I also said that if nobody claimed it, she could have it.

I called the boys down and showed them the dictionary. I said that if they could tell me what was inside the dictionary and why, they could have it. Boy #2 said,

"A lot of words and what they mean, so people can know stuff."

"Yes, that is true, but not exactly what I was looking for."

It became apparent that they had no clue. My questioning jogged no memory of using the dictionary as a piggie bank.

When I divulged the contents and the amount, suddenly the memories came flooding back, they all remembered putting the money in there. At that point I could not judge who the real recipient of the money was and why they put it there.

I invoked the Finders Keepers Rule and gave the ten dollar bill to Mini Me.

The groans of dispair turned into yelling about how unfair I was. That is when Secret Agent Man came out of his secret lair office to remind, Boy #2 in particular, that yelling at mom is never acceptable. I got a forced, but nice and tearful apology.

The next day Boy #1 brought me the ten dollar bill and let me know that Mini Me had left it on their computer desk. The Finders Keepers Rule turned in his favor and he became the new owner of the ten dollar bill.

To her 7-year-old credit there was no whining, wailing or gnashing of teeth.

Later that night, the same night we went shoe shopping (it was a long night), the boys wanted to spend their money. While I paid for my purchases at Sears, they ran ahead to Target to peruse the toy section. By the time I got there, they had not yet made up their minds and tried to negotiate for more money. I said "no" and told them we needed to get going. Boy #2 pleaded with his brother,

"Just grab something, anything!"

They wanted to drop that ten dollar bill like it was hot, they didn't care what they spent it on, just as long as they got to spend it!

When I told them that I was not going to give them any more money and that we need to leave, Boy #2 not having learned his lesson about yelling at the woman who carried him inside of her body for nine months, yelled at me again! In Target!

That's when he got the quiet, but harsh and deadly mad mom whisper,

"This trip is over. You are not getting anything. You are not going to say another word. We are going to walk out of this mall right now."

You can imagine the tongue lashing he received all the way home.

Mini Me was pretty upset with me too. She had her eye on a new Littlest Pet Shop that I refused to buy her.

Later that night, it was a long night, I saw Mini Me packing her bags. When I asked her if she was planning on running away, she told me she was just "arranging" her purses.

The next morning, the boys were looking for their money again. It seems that they had left it on the coffee table the night before.

Apparently, Mini Me learned the finders keepers lesson. She picked it up and put it in the safest place she knew, her Hello Kitty wallet inside of her giraffe print purse.

The boys knew they were defeated. There was no arguing the point. Their little sister took advantage of the situation and profited.

Later that day, Boy #2 came home "sick" from school. While he had the house to himself, he went into his sister's room, found the purse, opened the wallet and took the money. He then hid it inside the speakers of his stereo.

When the other kids came home, he pretended to find it, handed it to his brother and told him to come tell me what they had found.

Knowing that my daughter was not foolish enough to leave the money unattended again, I immediatedly knew that something was fishy. Upon cross-examination both boys denied taking the money out of their sister's wallet.

Boy #2 was not immediately forth-coming and to Boy #1's credit he did not rat-out his brother, but Secret Agent Man, as known by his associates as "The Human Lie Detector," procured a rapid, yet unremorseful confession. Boy #2 felt fully justified believing that this money was his to begin with.

I needed to take a break and have some time to think about how I was going to deal with the sneaking, the lying, and the stealing. I let the boy stew in anticipation of punishment for over an hour, when I finally announced to him that he and I needed some time alone to talk about his behavior. I told him to get on his shoes and wait in the car, I was going to get my keys and purse and we were going to go to McDonalds for some ice cream and talk.

He sat in the car for about five minutes before he came back in to find me at my desk and said,

"I thought we were going to McDonalds."

I looked up from my computer screen and said flatly,

"I lied."

I don't know what the tears were about. The disappointment, the realization of having been lied to, whatever they were for, it was the effect I was going for. I said,

"Feels pretty crummy to be lied to, doesn't it?"

This isn't the last time our kids are going to lie to us, or be sneaky, or perhaps even steal, so the lectures and lessons have continued over the last couple of days. This whole finders keepers business has been interesting to see the revealing of their characters and note what we need to work on.

43 comments:

  1. I knew there was a good reason I like you. You are Mother Goddess!!! I am in awe of your skills.

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  2. Wow. Impressive skills lady. I aspire to be you. :)

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  3. Wow! What a smart mom! I can't stand lying. And I love the lesson here!!

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  4. I am VERY IMPRESSED. What a fantastic way to teach a much needed lesson.

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  5. Oh, please stop (but continue, if you must).

    As much as I love the positive reinforcement, I can't take credit, I learned it from Dr. Laura!

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  6. Dr. Laura or not, that was good. I will have to store this one away for the future lie detection disciplinary order of not knowing what to do-now I know agency! You are a great Mom-I really look up to you!

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  7. Very awesome. Sheer brilliance. I bow to your greatness. ;)

    Seriously, good job.

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  8. Good job. Thinking like the person you're trying to teach a lesson to is a fantastic move. Kids don't always respond to "That's wrong!" but do something they can relate to and BINGO, they get it.

    Did Mini Me get her $10 back?

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  9. Parenting! What a concept. We could put SuperNanny out of business!
    Your neighbor Mrs Kravitz

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  10. You.ARE.AMAZING.
    No seriously, I am in awe right now, and I want to give you a round of applause...but i am in a setting where that would be slightly more than awkward. Just know that I love you.

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  11. Hi! I like to read your blog because of your humor about being a mom and wife! I don't have any kids yet, but it is always interesting to see how seasoned moms deal with sticky kid situations - this one is one to remember!

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  12. I can't WAIT until the next time one of kids lie to me..... look forward to trying this out..... Thanks Annie.

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  13. Ohh, I love it! I have been enjoying your blog since I discovered the wonderful world of blogging a couple of weeks ago. And by the way, you look much cuter in your scout shirt that I do.

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  14. Awesome story and great lesson!

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  15. Oh wow - that *was* a long night.

    You are a genius super mom and you have a great sidekick in Secret Agent Man.

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  16. Looooooove it!

    My girls lied last week (and it just breaks your heart) and they had to throw away all their Halloween candy. They had the choice - look up 5 scriptures related to lying and use them in an essay - or throw away all your Halloween candy. I miss those Resee Cups still...

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  17. ...And filed away for future use.

    Awesome.

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  18. This one's a keeper. It fits with some of my parenting lessons.

    Like cooking dinner (not meat that could make them sick, more like pasta) half-way to get across that doing your chores half way makes life hard for others.

    Oh, I have others. We should collaborate.

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  19. I forgot to add that we could be dangerous to our kids misbehaving. Muahahahahahahahaha

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  20. deeep stuff.

    i oppose finders keepers. something forgotten in a dictionary, okay. but something left for a moment on the coffee table? you don't want people sleeping with their precious objects under their pillows!

    nice one on the fake trip to mcDs.

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  21. I love the "lying to them to teach them a lesson" lesson. I've heard Dr. Laura tell that to a few people before and I LOVE it!

    But when I was young, I'd rather be lied to than taken to McDonalds for ice cream and have to sit in the car and have my dad talk about life lessons. But I'm so glad now.

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  22. Ooooh! So fantastic! I want to hear more of KLIN's, too. I seriously worry about my 5 year old in the falsehood department.
    You're a good mamma. And Mini Me is pretty dang funny--arranging purses. Ha!

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  23. I agree with all the other comments! I'm just storing this away for future use!

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  24. You are GOOD. Nice. I am so using this.

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  25. I am absolutely tucking this one away for future use. nice one.

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  26. You don't yell at your mama in Target!!

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  27. You are an amazing mom Annie.
    Those kids are going to grow up nice. Thanks, we need more of that in the world.
    :)

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  28. Annie, I am in awe of your awesome parenting skills. How did you keep track of the money for so well for so long??? :D

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  29. You are simply fantastically amazing! I am totally trying that little tactic on the 3 liar pants that I have. Maybe it will get them to understand why I hate lying so much.
    Kudos to you!!

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  30. I have been so excited to come and read this ever since Lauren told me about it yesterday...and it was every bit as wonderful as I expected!

    I really could have used this last summer, but I'm certain I'll have more opportunities...

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  31. I have been reading Laurens blog for like, ever and decided to follow her link and come and see your blog. :) Im glad I did and Im going to remember this for one day when I have kids and they lie to me.

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  32. Lauren sent me here--I'm glad she did! What a great story. I hope all turns out well in the end.

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  33. Great lesson. Could you come up with one to teach anger management and not kicking holes in the wall?

    Oh, and the money (I am pretty sure) was mine.

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  34. i will remember this story for years to come and will be sure to enforce the "do you like being lied to?" lesson. pure genius.

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  35. At our house any money found becomes Mom's money. That way the kids don't fight amongst themselves as much.

    Good idea for teaching Boy #2 about lying.

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  36. "Feels pretty crummy to be lied to, doesn't it?"


    Oh Yes... yes it does!

    I loved this! I guess the finders keepers rule needs to be reworked?

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  37. I'm trying to think of how to word a little disagreement over "finders keepers" without sounding all negative, because I'm sure you're an amazing mom. I was just surprised that you would teach your kids that anytime someone forgets something somewhere, it's no longer theirs and is up for grabs. Giving the $10 to your daughter made some sense, because no one else claimed it and there was no way of being sure whose it was. Once you had given it to her, though, it belonged to her-- in her wallet, in the living room, wherever. Of course kids are going to get confused and start taking things when you teach them that they are allowed to swipe others belongings as soon as someone forgets something. I left my purse in my apartment living room, but it's still mine. If I accidentally left it in the supermarket, I hope someone would be honest and turn it in instead of claiming this kind of "Finders Keepers."

    Anyway just some food for thought meant in the nicest way possible. Keep up the good work.

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  38. I'm trying to think of how to word a little disagreement over "finders keepers" without sounding all negative, because I'm sure you're an amazing mom. I was just surprised that you would teach your kids that anytime someone forgets something somewhere, it's no longer theirs and is up for grabs. Giving the $10 to your daughter made some sense, because no one else claimed it and there was no way of being sure whose it was. Once you had given it to her, though, it belonged to her-- in her wallet, in the living room, wherever. Of course kids are going to get confused and start taking things when you teach them that they are allowed to swipe others belongings as soon as someone forgets something. I left my purse in my apartment living room, but it's still mine. If I accidentally left it in the supermarket, I hope someone would be honest and turn it in instead of claiming this kind of "Finders Keepers."

    Anyway just some food for thought meant in the nicest way possible. Keep up the good work.

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  39. Anonymous,

    I'm sure there's question in there somewhere. Perhaps it is, why "would teach your kids that anytime someone forgets something somewhere, it's no longer theirs and is up for grabs?"

    That is an excellent question and since you are interested enough to ask, I am happy to answer.

    What my story lacked was background and specificity.

    My kids are bad about not putting their money away. They get money for chores, birthdays, and from the tooth fairy and more often than not, I find it on their bedroom floor a week later. I've told them to keep their money in their wallets, but do you think they listen to me? Nooooooooo! That is the background.

    Here is the specificity.

    My kids know that "finders keepers" does not apply for most situations.

    Rest assured, my anonymous friend, if they find your kid's lunch money on the playground, they know to turn it into the office.

    More than anything I wanted them to learn to put their money away. The lost dollar here and there hasn't had much of an impact, but this whole-ten-dollar thing has had a major impact. I am positive the next time they get money, it will go right in their wallets.

    Thanks for your comments. I'm going to take your thoughts into consideration when I write this story up for the Mile High Mamas blog, I'm going to makes some changes so it is clearer.

    Thanks! Come back soon!

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  40. Hey, thanks for breaking it down for me. I was a little confused and now I get where you're comin from. Comments are the best.

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