In the checkout line at target yesterday, Collin found some crazy colored push pop sucker…. The kind I rarely let him have… The kind boys always want….. The colors are a nightmare of dye, chemicals and sugar induced misbehavior to a parent.  To a child–to my child–they are gems from heaven….. wrought with sticky sugary bliss promising immediate and elusive happiness……… it’s always a gamble to ask if one can have something so risky….. but asking is part of the risk…. and the pay off if part of the pay off is a “yes”………… 

He holds the thing up with his eyebrows raised…………

With a simultaneous swipe of my visa and a stern shake of my head, I say “No”.
….. 4 hours later……
Hanging out in the attic loft, writing, listening to music and doing my thing, Collin rushes up to my seated side…. wanting to show me something he’d built with legos and grinning.  I notice his grin is blue.  
“What have you eaten, sweetie pie”, I ask him.  
“Nothing”, he says.  
“Sooooo, nothing is blue?” I ask
“Ummmmm, yes” nodding with mustered up certainty… eyes darting away from mine.
“No.  Really, Collin.  What have you gotten into—some christmas candy? Because I’m going to fix dinner soon”  
“Well, I actually sneaked away that push pop at Target”.
“Sneaked away??” I rephrased, “As in took without paying??  Oh, Collin!”
“Yessssss.  I guess I’m in trouble” his cheeks flushed with worry and he flounced backward in defeat
For the next few minutes we talked about why he sneaked this candy away.  We also spoke about the consequences of taking things without paying for them.  I explained that when adults take something from a store the police come and sometimes they go to jail.  This worried him.  He wondered how long people stay in jail when they go.  I explained briefly the court and sentencing system, then stressed with graveness that if someone had caught him sneaking away candy at the store, I might not have been able to help him……
“Mommy do you think the police will come for me now??” he asked.
“Do YOU think they’ll come Collin?”
“Well, I don’t think they really know, soooooooooo”….. the future was looking brighter…….
I considered what I should do as a consequence for his taking this candy.  I considered making him call the store and apologize.  I finally decided that I was grateful that he’d eventually told the truth and told him to remember how bad, worried and guilty he felt before he took something again that he hadn’t paid for…………. so he basically got away with stealing AND got to eat the damn candy…………….
Not sure this was the best thing to do…….. if anyone says boys are easier than girls well, guess that just means they aren’t raising one like mine……………….. incredibly deviant, sweet, and too damn smart for his target’s good…………
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