I have been a mom now for 8.06 years. I have ventured out to buy something at thousands and thousands of stores, alone, or with up to four children. We have had lots of fits, tantrums, huge embarrassing scenes with toddlers - ones that would make any normal adult cry. These experiences have become part of normal, every day life for me. My husband is with me while shopping (grocery or otherwise) about 2% of the time. All four children are with me about 99% of the time during summer months and 30% of the time during the school year, when I currently only have two children accompanying me.
During all of these years and thousands of experiences, we have never once had a shoplifting experience with any of them.
We had one last week.
And, of all the places on earth, it happened at Deseret Book. Yes.
It seemed to be incidental. I was rushing them, they were scrambling to put little trinkets back at the checkout, and race to the car (have I mentioned how competitive all four of my children are?). I knew one of them had carried something out. I just knew. I asked to see their hands. One fist remained clenched. I have never checked their hands before. I have never questioned whether they could have or ever would have taken something without telling me.
But, I knew.
The process of returning the small items and apologizing was almost too painful for me to bear. It was humiliating, but cleansing, for us both. I truly felt during the long moments following that I could feel precisely how my child felt inside. It was absolutely horrible for me. My child's eyes were fearful, shameful, and a bit hurt. I don't think I ever went through the experience with my own mom, but I feel like I know now exactly how it would have felt for me.
Hopefully that memory will serve as reminder enough for all of my kids, because I know I don't want to have to watch one of them go through that again - ever.