Friday, July 22, 2005


Last week MD (Middle Daughter) and her two preschoolers were out shopping. In the grocery store, MD noticed there were two new shades of pink and blue jelly beans in the jellybean bin that she had never purchased before. She was curious what new flavors they were so she took one of each and tasted them. Then she offered one of each to her eldest child for her opinion.

That’s when it happened. Immediately a small hand shoved the offering away and an indignant finger was pointed up at her as a very loud child’s voice began to berate her with deadly seriousness.

"Mom, THAT is stealing. You are a thief! You are not to remove or eat anything from store shelves that you haven’t paid for!"

MD cringed, gave the child "the look" that says "enough already" and covered her face hoping her offspring would cease her disciplinary seminar. But Grandchild was just warming to her subject. With all customers in the store looking in MD’s direction, the tongue-lashing continued.

"You could go to jail. You could be arrested. That is a bad thing to do. My own mother (with disgust). I can’t believe it." Then she added as customers snickered and some roared outright. "That is just like ‘Hi-Lite Robbery!" (of course, what she really meant to say was "Highway Robbery")

Grandchild was pretty much drained of her angry emotions by this time and when she paused, MD quickly, very quickly, interjected in a mortified whisper, "Look, it’s okay Kiddo. I’ll pay for the jelly beans." Red-faced with total embarrassment, she quickly headed for the till with her cart.

When they reached the till, the child watched with care as the clerk rang up their purchases ending with the bag of jellybeans. All eyes were still on MD. Customers remained like statues in a wax museum, with amused faces turned towards MD to see what would happen next.

"And now," MD said to the clerk, loud enough for the peanut gallery to hear. "I ate 2 jellybeans, so will you remove two jellybeans from that bag and weigh them and add the cost to my bill."
Without flinching, the clerk dutifully removed two jellybeans from the bag and put them on the scale and added the cost to MD’s bill.

At this point her little one grinned broadly from ear-to-ear and skipped happily out the door to the parking lot, absolutely pleased with her performance and thoroughly satisfied that all wrongs had been righted.

Note: On another matter, ongoing discussion continues at Blog # 41 POLITICS 101, and you are welcome to still leave comments there if you would like to participate in that discussion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting story. It reminds me of my 4 y.o. daughter's vigilance when we cross the street. Are there any cars within view.... even if two blocks away? Is the 'walk' light showing or is Mommy crossing the street with the 'dont walk' still shining? Part of this, I think, is the literalness that kids bring to their understanding of the world. But in the case of MD and her daughter, it seemed that there might also be another agenda going on, in that GD was able to embarrass and humiliate her mother in public. Part of me feels that this is not right. If GD felt so strongly about the 'theft', she might also be at the age where she can understand people's feelings and people's sense of dignity. A daughter with true ethics might respect her mother enough to not humiliating things in public. Just some thoughts. Wondering what you think about this, Roberta, and others, too. best, Molly

2:12 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi, Molly. Thanks for the interesting comment. You make a valid point but to deliberately embarrass her Mother was certainly not the case with GD though I may have given that impression in my dramatization. I think she was just so appalled that her mother would break a rule that she so clearly understood. You mention children's understanding being literal and it certainly is. To them Grand Larceny is not greater than, or lesser than, but equal to eating 2 jelly beans that have not been bought and paid for.

Another reason she was so outspoken is her Mother recognizes that although she is just a 'little person', she is a person with her own individuality and identity. And her Mother always has encouraged her to confide in her if anything causes her anxiety. This was one of those situations where I think she was too anxious about saving her mother from the law to wait for privacy to discuss it.

GD is in every sense a very sympathetic child and well able to empathize with how others feel. I see her run immediately to comfort playmates whether emotionally hurting or physically hurting.

What I found most humorous in this story was the blasé reaction of the clerk. But he obviously did what he did for the benefit of the child even though he was probably quite unaware of the circumstances leading up to it.

6:53 PM  
Blogger plumleigh said...

This post reminded me of a few incidents of theft that I committed as a GD. My Grandmother used to take me everywhere with her and I would frequently "taste" things that intrigued me. On one occasion it was a large slab of wrapped chocolate. Telltale signs left on most of my 3 year-old face gave away the crime. Nanny was so embarassed. She didn't know what to do, so she took the chocolate back. I don't think they made her pay for it, as I was by then well-known at the grocery store in question and it was just another amusing act comitted by one of their regulars (they always gave me free treats so I thought I owned the place and everything in it, I suppose). I think I finally broke the habit when I was 4!

8:11 PM  
Blogger Eliz said...

Roberta, I'm still laughing about this.

yesterday at the grocers I saw someone help herself to a fountain drink, consume it as she walked through the store and then toss the empty cup into someone else's cart.

Feeling a bit ornery, I picked up her cup and followed her with my cart into a checkout lane. She paid for what was in her cart, but not for her soda. As she was putting her change into her wallet, I put the cup on the counter next to her and said, "You dropped this before you checked out. I know you want to pay for it."

8:00 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi plumleigh, I enjoyed your memoirs. Haven't we all been caught at one time or another with cookie on our faces -- either figuratively or literally. Thanks for stopping by and giving me that little chuckle for today.

eliz, your comment was a shocking bit. The audacity of someone to toss their empty cup into another's cart. Glad you straightened that out.

11:57 PM  
Blogger plumleigh said...


Checking back daily looking for your next post... please write more soon!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Sorry plumleigh, I didn't mean to dawdle. Now I feel like I must write something of quality -- which I'm not sure is going to happen. Hope you won't be too disappointed if it's just some silly rant about nothing.

11:48 PM  

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