My three year old, Lauren, spent most of Sunday in her Doc McStuffins gear. After we got home from church, she changed into her white doctor coat and stethoscope. She even managed to wear jeans like the character, which is rare for her. She would prefer to only wear skirts and dresses.
After Lauren made sure I was healthy, she wanted to give her pumpkins a checkup. So we spent a few minutes on the sunny afternoon on the front porch, letting Lauren carefully examine the pumpkins and listen to their heartbeat. They had a clean bill of health, though a few of them required band-aids on their stems.
On Monday morning, my husband noticed the two big pumpkins were gone. “What do we tell Lauren?” he asked. Good question. While I’m a big advocate of telling children (and everyone) the truth, I wondered if it would be better to say some sort of pumpkin fairy took them away. So, I reached out for advice from other parents on my Facebook page. Overwhelmingly, fellow parents said to tell the truth.
One of my favorite responses came from Jenny Calles of Greenville. She wrote, “Personally I think it's a great opportunity to explain why taking something that doesn't belong to you is wrong. She understands how hurt she is because someone came and took her pumpkins, and so she can understand why she shouldn't take someone else's toys, etc. without asking first. Although I totally understand the heart behind it, to say that someone needed them more than she did kind of implies that stealing is okay if you need it more than the person who has it and although she's little, we'd be surprised how much even the little ones process and comprehend stuff.”
Thank you, Jenny, and all the people who responded for your thoughtful advice.
Here’s how I approached the topic with Lauren: I started by asking her what she was going to do with her new pumpkin she got at daycare. She told me she was going to put it with her other big pumpkins on the front porch. I delicately told her that we would be visiting the pumpkin patch for some new big pumpkins since, while we were sleeping, someone took the pumpkins off our porch. I paused for her reaction, which was a question: why? I told her that I didn’t know why, but that I was disappointed that somebody would take them without asking permission first. We talked about asking permission, about the different between taking and borrowing, and manners overall.
Lauren clearly already has a strong sense of justice; she said, “We need to find out who took our pumpkins!” I told her that would be hard to do, but we should say a prayer that whoever has our pumpkins was taking good care of them. I’m grateful that whoever the pumpkin grinch was her took our pumpkins did not smash them on the front porch. I remember seeing that kind of pumpkin carnage as a child and being so sad.
Fortunately, there were no tears shed over our missing pumpkins, and I know Lauren is looking forward to yet another trip to the pumpkin patch. Frankly, so am I. I love watching her carefully inspect pumpkins to pick out ones perfect for our porch. I also look forward to watching her give the new pumpkins a checkup and hopefully, a clean bill of health.