Readers of this blog know that Rachel is a unique child. Not only does she possess an unusual interest in plumbing and exhibit an inordinate fondness for decapitating stuffed animals, but she also seems to have kleptomaniacal tendencies. Oh, nothing major - she hasn't taken to packing some heat and knocking off banks (yet); but we don't exactly leave money lying around the house. Once, on a trip to Target, we discovered 24 dollars in her cute little purse, 24 dollars whose provenance she claimed not to remember.
So, naturally, when I discovered money while unpacking her backpack from our trip to Grandpa's house, I worried. I pictured her growing up and just "finding" things in stores and at friends' houses. I imagined phone calls to parole officers and visits from whoever is in charge of juvenile delinquents. I wondered whether she'd be able to complete college while incarcerated.
I decided to have a talk with her about ownership and how you don't just claim any loose change (or bills!) lying around someone's house, even if Grandpa does think you are cute and wouldn't complain. Because, really, she's 7 already. She should know better.
"Honey," I began. "I found some money in your backpack."
"My money!" she said, happily.
"Now, sweetie, you didn't bring any money to Grandpa's last week. This can't be yours."
"No! It's mine!" Still happy.
Oh, dear, this was going to be harder than I had thought. She's not only a kleptomaniac, but a compulsive liar to boot. Just one step away from a hardened criminal...
"Sweetheart, you can't just pick up someone else's money..."
"I won it!" she said, proud as punch. "From Uncle Matt! Playing Texas Hold 'Em!"
That's my girl. But is gambling preferable to stealing? Or am I just rationalizing deviant behavior? And does this mean I won't have to give her an allowance?
[And yes, Rachel does talk in exclamation points. All! The! Time! It wears out my ears.]