Some things in life are just too tempting. Too delicious and wonderful to pass by. Some things land before us and there seems no way we can resist and walk away from what we know is probably not rightfully ours. The enticement of some things hooks our desire and we are engulfed, smitten just to have it to ourself.
My six year old, Harry was faced with such a dilemma. Placed before him was the most desirable object of all – handed straight to him in fact. His eyes glistened. His heart raced. He just had to have it – no matter what the cost. Quickly he slid it into his pocket, eyes dashing around the room to make sure no one saw. Guilt niggling at his heels he hatched a plan. He just needed to get it home to the secret hide out without any one knowing and all would be well. He focused himself and guarded his treasure.
Back at the cubby he stashed his prize, careful to share it with only those most trusted. This was something special, not to be told to any “dobbers”.
Unfortunately for Harry, his well laid plan came unravelled at dinner the following evening when complaining about his stinging cut hand, his play mate unwittingly announced the guarded secret. “Oh, that must be where you cut it today with the pocket knife Harry,” he said innocently. In that split second Harry came undone. All of a sudden his treasure was in jeopardy. He knew he could loose it. It seemed unbearable to think such a thing could happen.
He yelled and screamed demanding silence from his accomplice. He begged and ranted stating his innocence and deep desire to not return the precious property. I felt my stomach sink and my mind race at the thought that my child would go on to be a delinquent thief. What did I need to do to stop such an atrocity?
Fortunately, I managed to feign calmness and gently enquired about the knife. Confessions spewed forth along with a strong claim to the goods. He was not taking it back to preschool – no way, this was his, do or die! Dinner neglected in the heat of discussion, I put the ball back in Harry’s court. Careful to avoid accusations of stealing, I tried to discern what had actually happened and what he was thinking for such a knife to become automatically his.
I remember the desires of childhood. Seeing something so delightful and charming, my small hands could not resist just having it; ignoring my conscience that it was not mine to have. Knowing if I got caught I would be in trouble and forced to return it. But desire held me more tightly – just to have it for a short while would be satisfying enough. My thoughts did not extend to consequences and others suffering. My thoughts were on me and wanting, oh, so wanting. . .
Harry returned the knife to school next morning. We supported him in this decision using the incident as a learning opportunity for all. My fears somewhat quashed, I felt able to see the situation for what it was and what it offered – a great opportunity to teach about choices we make and fixing our mistakes. Rather than talk about stealing we chose to talk about choices. How we all have choices to make and are responsible for our own decisions. No matter what others do, ultimately the choice is ours. It was great to be able to share about some of my own choices and how I had made decisions that were not always the best for me and others. This was an opportunity to practice courage in amending our mistakes.
Mustering all his courage Harry returned the pocket knife. Relieved at his teachers response he went off to play.