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
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 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.