There was a time, several years ago, when she would go along with anything that was proposed. At that time, she rode our public transportation system almost every day. She considered the people on the bus to be her best friends, and many times, it led to dire consequences. I used to tell her I hoped no one ever asked her to help when they robbed a bank, because she probably would. She would always laugh and say, "Oh Mom, I would never rob a bank."
In retrospect, I should have been more specific.
She came home from the bus one afternoon with a beautiful pink cat carrier, WITH 2 KITTENS IN IT. We already had a 12-year-old cat and neither he nor I wanted any more cats. Here is our conversation as well as I can remember it.
Me: "Kalisha, who do these kittens belong to?"
Her: "Oh, they are Celeste's but she is moving and asked me to keep them for her until she gets to her new apartment."
Me: "No, no and no. We are not keeping them. How do you know they don't have fleas or some kind of disease?"
Her: "She said they didn't have fleas."
Me: "We don't have an extra litter box or anything."
Her: "Well, they can live on the front porch for a while, can't they?" (It is an enclosed porch)
Me: "Honey, fleas can get on our other animals, even from the front porch." (Yes I know, I am a little flea paranoid, but I once spent a lot of money eradicating the little ______ at a different house.)
Her: "I'll take care of them 'til she gets them."
Me: "Do you know her last name and a phone number?"
Her: "No, she wouldn't tell me her phone number and she doesn't have a last name."
Me: "Great! If she wants you to take care of them, did she send any food with them?"
Her: "No. She doesn't have any money."
Me: "Well, if she doesn't have any money, where did she get that new cat carrier? It still has the tags on it."
Her: "She stole it from Wal-Mart."
...stunned silence here...
Me: "SHE STOLE IT? WERE YOU WITH HER?"
Her: "Yes, but I didn't really steal it because I didn't walk out with it. But she had to have something to put them in when she got on the bus."
After I picked my chin up off the floor and was coherent again, we talked about what God has to say about stealing and how wrong it is. The people who steal from stores make the rest of the things more expensive because the store has to make up the money from somewhere.
Kalisha: "Okay. I'll just take it back to customer service and tell them my friend stole this and I'm returning it."
Me: "Somehow, I don't think they are going to believe you."
I was absolutely certain Kalisha was never going to see Celeste again. We found homes for the kittens and even though I know you are going to tell me I should have either, 1. Made Kalisha take it back and face the consequences, or 2. I should have taken it back and offered to pay for it. I did neither.
I made certain it was clean and then I put it in a Goodwill box. So if any of you purchased a bright pink cat carrier from Goodwill a couple of years ago with the tags still on it, you now know you are the proud owner of stolen property.
What can I say? Sometimes you just 'gotta do what you gotta do' and ask forgiveness for it and I AM really glad no one ever asked her to help rob a bank!
*We also discussed the meaning of the word 'accessory'...as in accessory to a crime.
How do you explain the concept of 'right and wrong' to your older special-needs child? I would love to hear your stories!