Today I had my morality tested.
You’re walking through the grocery store. You’re behind a Mama and her little girl.
All of a sudden, the little girl’s hand shoots out, and the Easter Cream Egg flies into the pocket, like lightening.
Mama sees nothing.
Do you tell the mother?
I struggled with this. I really really REALLY struggled with this.
Do I say something … and most likely upset the little girl, and possibly the mother?
Or do I say nothing at all, and mind my own business … and not be the bitchy lady who snitched on a kid.
Instead, I turned and wandered down a random aisle, just thinking about what I was going to do, if anything.
Would I want to know if someone saw one of my kids take something from a store?
Yes, I’d want to know, but … GAH! What to do!?!?!?!?!?
So I made a deal with myself. If I saw the mother again, I’d tell her.
I rounded the corner and there she was.
And all I did was watch as she looked down at her daughter, and ran a hand over her hair, stopping at her forehead, as if feeling for a fever.
I walked by them.
I didn’t say anything.
But, I noticed the little girl still had her hand firmly in her pocket.
I continued on to the self-checkout.
I won’t lie. It nagged at me.
What kind of person am I, if I’m always preaching to my kids to be ‘good people’, if I let someone, yes even a 4yr old child, steal and say nothing.
I’d be a hypocrite.
I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
So with a heavy heart, I turned around again, and went off to find Mama.
She was on her way to the checkout when I walked up beside her and said almost in one breath, "Excuse me, I’m having a moral dilemma that I’ve been struggling with, but I’ve decided to tell you. I think you might want to check your daughter’s pocket for an Easter Cream Egg. I’m SO sorry, I wasn’t sure if I should say something or not, but as a Mom, I know I’d want to know.”
She quickly looked down at her little girl and asked about the egg. The little girl looked back up at her Mama with eyes huge as saucers, and shook her head, nooooo, ‘Nothing in my pocket!’, as her hand clutched her little treasure that was hiding in there.
Mama looked at me and said, ‘Thank you for telling me.’
I left her as she was trying to coax the truth out of her child, and went to pay for my things.
But I couldn’t let it go.
I felt like such a Bitch for ratting on a kid.
I know morally I did the right thing, but it felt wrong.
So I looked behind me, found Mama in the lineup a few rows over, finished my transaction and then ran back through the store … to the Easter Cream Eggs.
I made it back through the self-checkout with the egg, before Mama finished paying for her order.
I walked over to their cash.
Little girl was sitting on the floor next to their cart, her cheeks still wet with tears.
I looked at Mama, held up my bag with the Easter Cream Egg and mouthed the words, ‘I got her an egg’.
She thanked me again, and I explained why I felt the need to buy the egg, then I crouched down on the floor, and had a heart to heart with the little girl.
I told her I was very sorry for having gotten in her in trouble, but that we can’t just take things from stores without paying for them first, because that’s stealing and stealing is wrong.
I told her it was because I felt bad for getting her in trouble, that’s why I bought her the egg. But also, that Mommy needs to know these things, and next time, I wanted her to ask Mommy for the treat she wanted. Mommy might say yes, and she might say no, but the RIGHT thing to do is ask first.
Then I gave her the bag with the egg, and the receipt.
So yes, she got the egg in the end.
Was I right in telling Mama? Was I right in buying the egg for the little girl?
I don’t know, and I don’t know.
I did what felt right at the time.
I’m a mother. I’d want to know if my child had taken something they (or I) hadn’t paid for.
On the flip side, I didn’t like being that Bitch who ratted on a kid.
I just hope the whole experience made enough of an impression on her, that she’ll think twice about snatching that next treat, which is what I was going for.
Or, in 10yrs time, I'll find Easter Cream Eggs on my house at Halloween.
Life's a crapshoot that way.