Bubaloo has a little problem with sticky fingers. Sticky in as much as he often finds himself attracted to objects that don't belong to him. Things somehow find their way into his backpack, pockets and eventually our home.
We've moved from the inconsequential collecting of bottle caps and garbage off the street to more meaningful things that actually belong to someone and have been intentionally taken.
To keep this stealing phase under control, or in the least to preserve our sanity, we have him on pocket check. This means every time he enters and exits the house we search him.
You'd think that pocket check would become a deterrent to the thieving and the ensuing consequence, but what we're finding out is that they inspire innovation.
The first couple of times, it was easy to spot the toy, candy or DS game that wasn't his. These items were just casually tossed into his bag. He then switched up his modus operandi by sneaking non-food items into his lunch bag.
Next he embarked on the confusion tactic. This is where he'd pack so many toys to take to school every day so that we couldn't possibly keep track of what was his and what wasn't. Quickly, he was limited to a maximum of three things.
Then he decided to use the class auction that happens every Friday as a cover to bring things home that weren't his. All of his "big bucks" would be used to buy chocolate bars, pop and toys and he'd weave us an elaborate tale. We uncovered that, too, and now communicate with his teacher's through the trusty agenda to find out what he acutally won at auction.
Another time he tried to take the contraband out of the house by shoving it up his jacket sleeve. He's also tired to covertly hide a toy within a toy. And just the other day he realized that I wasn't regularly checking the side pockets of his backpack so he stashed two full handfulls of halloween candy in there. I only caught him this time because I heard the crinkling of candy wrappers.
While it's kind of exhauting having to do all of this busting, now it's starting to be a detective game for me. It's a challenge to try to think like a 10 year-old-boy. I'm consistently amazed at how clever and innovative he is. I'd be even more so impressed if he'd use his brain for good!
This morning, however, has to be the best attempt at smuggling yet.
He wanted to take his iPod to school and I said no. He tried to whine, negotiatiate, and talk me to an alternate decision. But I did not break. There was going to be no iPod leaving the house. Call my motivations self-centred. I certainly did not want to have to deal with the child who would be hysterically upset when it was lost or stolen - and I think the liklihood of that was pretty high.
Just as I was about to start his pocket check, I asked him to produce his iPod.
He couldn't. He told me it was in his room. He told me it had fallen behind his dresser. There were a couple of other tall tales woven in there. I told him that he had to put it in my hand, and warned him that he had better not make me late for work.
I sent him up to his room to find his iPod while I started to check his backpack.
Quickly he came back down the stairs to confess. He let me know that he had lied and wanted to take responsibility. Indeed, the iPod was not in his room. He had put it in a little bag that holds his shark tooth in one of the pockets of his backpack.
I pulled it out. Only the earphones weren't there.
When I inquried as to their whereabouts, he gave me a little sheepish grin.
He took off his shoe, stuck his hand all the way to the toe and pulled out the earphones. They had been squished in there with his stinky sock resting on top.
Now, I'm having to re-think pocket check. Growing and innovating alongside my child. I never imagined that SHOES would be part of my daily checklist.