07.05.2021

Child theft: allow or punish?

Once I almost quarreled with all my readers. Because of Nosov’s story “Cucumbers”. Well, remember, there the older boy Pavlik takes little Kotka to the collective farm garden to pick up cucumbers.

They are noticed by the watchman, chasing after them, they run away. Kotka comes home joyfully, hands out cucumbers to his mother, but his mother is unhappy and demands to take the cucumbers back to the guard. Next I want to quote:

“Mom began to poke the cucumbers back into Kotka’s pocket. Kotka cried and shouted:

– I won’t go! Grandfather has a gun. He will shoot and kill me.

– And let him kill! I’d better not have a son at all than a thief’s son.

– Well, come with me, mommy! It’s dark in the yard. I’m afraid.

– And was not afraid to take?

Mom gave Kotka two cucumbers in her hands, which did not fit in her pockets, and led him out the door.

– Either bring cucumbers, or leave home completely, you are not my son!

Kotka turned and walked slowly along the street.

It was already completely dark. ”

Further, the weeping Kotka still finds a guard, gives him cucumbers and the old man consoles him, says that he is not a thief and all that. Home boy returns joyful.

This dialogue with mom horrified me. Especially when I checked my assumption: the prototype of Kotka was four years old, that is, he was a very, very small boy who did not even realize that he was stealing something there. However, almost none of the readers and friends supported me. Child theft turned out to be one of the creepiest, darkest parental nightmares.

I don’t really know where the horror of theft in such intelligent good families comes from. If a four-year-old runs after the girls and kisses them, not a single mother faints or shouts: “We are raising a rapist!” But if the child took someone else’s toy, and even more so – a toy in the store, then that’s all. The level of parental anxiety reaches the most recent mark, all the restraining mechanisms are turned off and the child begins to “knock out the thief” with all his might.

A girl friend told how at the age of five she stole a small rubber baby doll from the store. Her grandmother (a professor of psychology, by the way) drew a sign “I am a thief”, put a granddaughter on her neck and forced the girl to stand with her at the door of that store for several hours. However, she achieved the desired effect – the girl never stole again in her life. True, she began to write at night, but perhaps this is just a coincidence.

Moreover, I found out that in many families theft was what I regularly did as a child. Dad came home from work, undressed, hung trousers on a chair – and a trifle fell out of their pockets on the floor. I carefully collected it – and it was considered at our place as legitimate children’s prey and cleanliness.

Moreover, already in high school, if my mother forgot to give me money for lunch, I could calmly search the pockets of all my parents’ clothes in the closet and all the old bags – you could always find forgotten money for a bun. And my parents only praised me for my inventiveness and for not going to school hungry. Needless to say, it never occurred to me to climb into the pockets of friends or a stranger?

However, many for the same behavior were terribly beaten or morally humiliated so that they still remember it. It came to the ridiculous: if a child had a fight in the garden and took away a car from a friend, then he was only chided a little. And if he quietly took it to himself and it suddenly showed up, then an urgent state of emergency was declared by the parents and the child was punished so that he “remembered for life”. Although, if we translate these acts into criminal terms, then robbery (as in the first case with a fight) is usually punished much more severe than the usual quiet theft.

I have never encountered fear in good families that a child will grow up a scoundrel, a murderer or a rapist. But the fear of growing a thief comes from some completely dark and distant depths. Especially dangerous, for example, is considered a successful theft.

So, for example, it was with me. When I was eight years old, something strange suddenly began to be sold in our regional store: glass two-hundred-gram jars with tomato-grape (!) Juice. Mom took one try – just to understand what kind of miracle this is. And it turned out to be amazingly tasty! Then she sent me to the store with the goal of buying ten more such jars.

I counted ten pieces, folding them into a large shopping bag. And at that moment my inner devil pulled me to put the eleventh jar in the same place. Just to see if I can steal it from me. “If anything, I’ll say that I’m still small and just made a mistake,” I thought. Feel how cool and cynical thief I was? But the saleswoman was too lazy to count, she hit me ten juices – and I dragged them home. You can’t imagine how hard it was for me all the way – they are glass! As I dragged this bag through the snowdrifts and cursed the eleventh jar on what the light stands.

Mom, by the way, also did not notice anything, and I secretly was very proud of myself. However, on the ability to steal, I then checked “I can” and never returned to such experiments.

I sincerely consider child theft to be something like chickenpox. If you do not pay too much attention and do not pick up to ulcers and scars, then it passes almost without a trace. If this is revealed, first of all it is necessary to find out the reasons. I wanted this thing, but did not buy? Not enough pocket money?

Wanted attention? Wanted an experiment (like me)? It also seems to me that the more support parents give the child at this moment, the faster and more discreetly this period will pass. Many parents, faced with episodes of child theft, fall into such a panic that they begin to inspire the child that he is now a thief. It seems to me that it is worth suggesting the exact opposite: “You are not a thief. You just really wanted this thing and I understand it is so beautiful! Let’s go to the store together, return it and apologize to the saleswoman, she’s probably

Well, in general, I sincerely believe that if it is not customary in the family to steal in any way, if the child sees honest parents in front of him, if he is not limited in what is considered a “child norm” in his midst, then he will not steal. In any case, when he grows up.

The only time I came across conscious and serial child theft in my son’s kindergarten. There was a boy of extremely spiritual parents who quite loudly and fundamentally professed the rejection of “these stupid Bakugan”, “these disgusting robots” and generally “ugly American toys.” The child played with a bear, Cheburashka and several old models of cars. Not because of poverty, because of the principled position of parents.

And here he is, this boy, infinitely stole other people’s Bakugan, Lego men and once even an electronic game from the birthday boy’s backpack – he received it for his birthday and brought it to the garden to brag about. However, when the culprit of the theft was discovered, his mother immediately reported that she knew that all these terrible modern toys would not be brought to good, and that child himself was to blame for bringing such an expensive thing to the garden and leaving it unattended.

Which immediately in my eyes excluded her from the category of adequate parents. And it was only confirmed by the fact that if you and the child’s father are decent and decent people, then episodes of child theft will remain episodes in your life. Not shameful, not scary, those from which they grow quickly and painlessly. In decent and decent people.

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