Coping mechanisms and temptation entering school age

When I was around 5 I visited with my grandmother an old grannie in the village. She was making carpets and other crafty things out of colorful threads. My grandmother was also a carpet maker and I helped her with that craft as a kid. That grannie had many spools of colorful thread. I remember seeing this magenta thread. And I took it. I hid it my jacket and I took it home. I knew it was not a good thing to do but I had no clear reason why not to take it. Other than my heart pounding when I hid it. 

At home my grandmother saw it and said “what if that woman will look for it. She will be missing her magenta thread”. She didn’t scold me excessively but conformed that it was not ok to take things that don’t belong to me. I don’t know why I did it. But in a grey, drab world that magenta mesmerized me. I even still remeber how soft it felt in my hands. It’s one of my earliest memories. 

In the Orthodox Church before taking communion, we had to do confession. It was rushed and awkward and I didn’t like it but I did it. In confession the priest asked if I ever stole a pencil or eraser from school. What an odd question to ask. I told him I sometimes quarrel with my brother. But it dawned on me that stealing was common among kids since the poorest asked me about it. In school I was never tempted to steal anything. As a preteen I took money from my parents without asking to buy myself fruit and chocolate. 

The burden of stealing crushed my little heart. And it eventually pushed me to draw close to God and unburden my soul by confessing my sin and asking for forgiveness. 

But this last year, occasionally my youngest daughter stated showing up with erasers or pencils we didn’t buy for her. Little trinkets that mean nothing, she trades with kids, or sees them laying around and puts them in her pocket. At the grocery store she picks up the copper coins off the ground and puts them in her pocket as treasures. We had many relaxed conversation about value, and integrity a not stealing as in not taking things that don’t belong to us. And I thought I was on top of it. After all, I had this same conversations with my eldest daughter and she quickly learned and respected this trust rule of a civilized society. 

But yesterday ivy was holding her pant pocket tight and something small was bulging. I asked her what she had in her pocket and she said nothing. I stopped what we were doing and I asked her again. She admitted she had a pacifier. There are three newborns on our street. She loves babies. So I guess she saw the pacifier and took it. She said she found it on the ground. I told her it is not ok to take something that doesn’t belong to her. It’s called stealing. And I asked her to go and put it on the windowsill at the house where she was hanging out all day. She left and came back and went to the porch, kind of grumpy. Or so I assumed. Because she had to do something she didn’t want to do. 

After a very good day, late in the evening, as the girls were getting ready for bed I went in to pray with them. Shoes and clothes were strewn on the floor of their room. I picked the dirty pants to put in the washer and I felt something in ivy pocket. It was the pacifier. She never took it back. I was so disappointed. Disobedience warrants two spanks on the bum. The bigger problem I realized was the fact that I assumed she will have understood this whole year of truth telling, boundaries, honor, respect, trust. 

She came home with ta broken pistol toy and she slept with it under her pillow. The spring sistem was broken. I was changing their sheets and found it. I casually asked her when she got home from work. She said she found it. I told her to return it. I put it out on the bench where there is mountain of toys. I explained the complete lack of value of that trinket but then as I see her collet all kind of nonsense stuff, I am starting to wonder if there is more to her behavior.  Like kleptomania.

Last week she told me she wanted to take an eraser that didn’t belong to her and she resisted the urge because she remembered I don’t like when she takes things like that. It was a small win in a sea of temptation. 

After I write this, she came down and she some math homework. Addition and subtraction. When she was done she wanted to go out and play. I called her to sit with me for a minute to address our challenging conversation from last night. 

She was concerned that she is not trustworthy. I told her I don’t trust her right now, given the recent facts. But I want to trust her. The truth seemed to have better impact on her than soft coddling of lies i was tempted to reassure her with.

I already empathized with her telling her I stole too as a kid. And I was tempted to take things. But as of today we have a zero tolerance for theft. She will have to return things one by one. I told her that even if she thinks she can hide stuff for a while, Inevitably they come into light. 

She got up and said she has to go return some things. Trinkets. And she did. 

Oh, the temptation is not over. I’m sure of it, But I’m determined to help her find her boundaries of integrity and be free and light and trustworthy.