So I shoplifted. Stole something. Yep, I’m a criminal.
It started when I decided that I, Alyssa Marie Aarhaus, was capable of walking a half mile to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Not only could I do it by myself, but I could manage it with four boys. Four boys under six, in fact. As part of a babysitting co-op (which rocks), I often have my two little rascals and a few more in tow. I left for the grocery store pushing my Chariot baby jogger (for the groceries mostly) and following 4-year-old Bubba, almost 2-year-old Zeke, and their two friends, J and G, 5 and 3 respectively.
Just to be clear, I walked, WALKED, to the grocery store in the afternoon… in August… with four kiddos ages 5, 4, 3, and 2. Shoplifting doesn’t sound so bad anymore, right?
After successfully making it down the bike path, across streets, to the store, and through the grocery aisles without any major calamities (well, there was the emergency stop for Fudgsicles and the preemptive opening of said Fudgsicles box to appease the two-year-old), I’ll admit I was feeling pretty good. I had the two older boys marching on either side of me with one of their hands on the jogger and the younger two strapped into the jogger seats. Besides a few “Are those ALL your boys?” comments and bewildered looks, the grocery trip was a success.
Or so I thought. Just about the time we made it back UP the hill to my house G, the three-year-old, asked if he could get out and walk again. Sure, I said, as I stopped the chariot, and let him stand up. Thud, thud, thud, thud… THUD. All of the kids stopped as five sweet potatoes rolled out of the baby jogger. You know, the sweet potatoes I set on G’s lap while we were shopping which gave him the very important job of watching them? The sweet potatoes that I didn’t pay for?
Now this may not seem like such a big deal, $4 dollars worth of sweet potatoes, but I pride myself in being an honest and moral person. Just about the time, I said out loud, “Oh man, we didn’t pay for those” the two older boys, Bubba and J, looked up at me with sweet innocent eyes and J said, “Well, we’ll have to go back to the store, right, Mrs. Aarhaus?”. ”Right,” I mumbled to J thinking there was NO way I was risking another walk with four, now Fudgsicle sticky, boys back to the store. In my defense, the back of the jogger was busting with sweating groceries and Zeke needed a diaper change.
I told the boys I would definitely pay for them later and told their mother when she arrived just how well I’d taught her darlings the art of stealing taters. J and G’s mom gave me the great idea before she left of buying sweet potatoes again at some point and paying double the asking price for them to make up for the theft. It took me a few days, but that’s exactly what I did this evening. I had a few other items I needed at the store so at the checkout, without kids this time, I asked the twenty-something, mo-hawked, I-wish-I-didn’t-work-here clerk to please charge me twice as much for the sweet potatoes I was buying.
“You want me to charge you MORE for the sweet potatoes?” he asked, eyeing me like it was the weirdest thing anyone had ever said to him.
“Yes, please,” I said confidently and briefly explained how I had stolen a few potatoes earlier in the week.
“You know the store makes plenty of money. Are you sure you want me to charge you more?” he asked again this time giving me a look that said don’t worry, I won’t tell.
“Thanks, but I really do need to pay for those other potatoes too,” I said. He shrugged his shoulders and added $3.71 of sweet potato charges to my tab. I walked out with my bags and sighed. Could I have gotten away with stealing those yams? Yeah, probably. But I have to tell you, it felt so good to pay for them. It’s not always convenient, but I think my life is much more happy just being honest.