Thursday, April 07, 2011

Caught Red-Handed?

There are so many firsts in a baby's new life: first smiles, first steps, first words, first time to eat ice cream, first time to use a potty, etc. With many of these firsts bringing great joy and a sense of accomplishment to a young life, I've discovered how magical it can be to share these firsts with your baby. While I've anticipated a lot of milestones, there was one first that I wasn't quite ready to's first time to shoplift.

I've made it 30+ years without ever stealing so much as soda with a water cup from a fast food restaurant. (Hey, don't laugh. This is serious. A football player I went to college with got arrested for filling up his water cup with Root Beer at In 'N Out. Don't mess with the soda fountain!)

So is it a bad sign that my young son (almost 17 months) has already shoplifted? Is he destined for a life of crime and breaking the rules? He does share a name with famed outlaw, Joaquin Murietta, after all. Hopefully, this was just a flash in the pan incident and we'll all be able to move on.

It all happened so innocently. Joaquin was riding in his stroller while Mom browsed the latest affordable fashions at H&M (remember I recently quit my job, so shopping is definitely what I should be doing.) Occasionally he gets a little antsy in clothing stores, so I handed him some bangle bracelets to play with, which he loved. They make noise and he can stick his arms through them; what's not to love? Then we were standing in the checkout line, near the hair accessories, and I guess that's when the "slip" happened. All I know is that 20 minutes later, we were in line at Coffee Bean, when something blue and sparkly caught my eye in his stroller. Upon closer inspection, I saw that tucked under Joaquin's left hip was a light blue lace headband with a large sequined butterfly adornment. Oh no! I definitely didn't pay for that, and here we are, blocks from the store, with something we didn't buy!

"Don't panic," I thought. There is a perfectly logical explanation. My mind racing, I fantasized for a minute about Joaquin saying to me, "What, Mom. It's just a headband. They'll never know!" My worst nightmare! Because I'd know. The rest of my life, I'd know I have a son that steals things! I couldn't bear the thought. Barely taking the time to put the straw in my ice blended mocha and to hand the thief his chocolate milk, we raced out the door, back to H&M to return the stolen goods.

Thank goodness it would be something I would never buy -- it was quite ugly and not my style -- so if it came into question I could swear to the store's manager that it was all a big accident. Fortunately or unfortunately, when I walked back in the store, the queue was really long, so I decided to casually slip the hideous headband back on the rack, and walk out as if nothing happened. My heart raced as I approached the hair accessories stand. I looked left and right to see if our rogue ways had been discovered. Ah, safe. It was back with its other sparkly, tacky friends, and we were innocent once again.

After all good had been restored in the world, I walked out of the store, still feeling slightly uneasy. I didn't know why I felt this way, but I guess I couldn't stop thinking about how easy stealing could be and how it probably happens all the time. Then I thought if I felt this guilty over an accidental hairpiece hi-jack, how would I sleep at night if he'd actually stolen something worth over $10?

Then I retracted that thought. The worse part about the entire incident might be was how ugly the headband was. It was sparkly and lacy. What does this say about his taste or fashion sense?

From now on, I think I'll stick to shopping solo, and we can save other "firsts" for places other than retail centers.