Friday, January 2


I am standing at the customer service counter of The American Book Center here in The Hague. I have ordered a copy of The Princess Bride by William Goldman for Ian as a Christmas present (it's here after Christmas but really, what's a few days between friends?). While I wait, Andrew approaches me with a book in hand. It's a Sandra Boynton board book (Ms. Boynton being a favorite author of ours) and he looks earnestly interested in this new title.

Fact is, he is on this shopping trip to pick a prize for being the stunningly patient recipient of a haircut earlier in the day, so I ask him if this is what he is picking as his prize. He looks at me quizically as he considers his options (book as a prize or a new Lightning Mcqueen car?) and then shakes his head to say, nah, he'll hold out for something at the toy shop. So I encourage him to go and put the book away where he found it.

After several more minutes checking out titles, purchasing books, and generally breathing in the literacy we leave the ABC and make our way to the mecca of Andrew destinations: Intertoys. It doesn't take too long before his choices are made and once again I am standing at a customer service counter making a purchase. I unzip my bag to get my bankcard and am shocked to find...

the book.

Ack. Pure dread hits my stomach with a board book thunk.

That's right. My son has just shoplifted Boynton from the store.

I am dumbfounded, confused, embarrassed, flabbergasted! I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I do neither but quickly, I pay for the toy purchase and usher Andrew into a private space outside the shop. We talk. I am searching for the words that will help him understand. I am trying to understand it myself since I know this little guy hasn't a malicious bone in his body... but what he does have is a keen interest in stashing stuff. Surely, I reason to myself as I lecture, he didn't MEAN to take the book, he just didn't want to walk all the way back to the shelf to leave it behind.


We walk back to the bookshop. We talk to the clerk. Andrew says sorry. Andrew says he won't do it again. The clerk takes one look at his earnest face and his wide blue eyes and forgives all immediately. (Forgives to the point that I almost think she is ready to GIVE him the book as a reward for being honest and returning it!)

I sigh deeply. Andrew looks relieved. We continue our shopping adventure.

I keep my bag zipped tight.

Books are on my mind this week as we work toward the second annual DAY TO READ designed by Allison of Soccer Mom in Denial. It is the designated day to knock off the blogging for a day (yes, a whole day!) and read. Read anything. A book, a magazine, a newspaper.
about the event can be found by clicking the link above.
Join us.



  1. In his defense, if he had forgotten where the book "belonged" then mama's bag seems as good a place as any. As my kids got older they were allowed to stash their toys and whatnot in my bag so it wouldn't get lost on our outing.

    Good for him being brave and apologizing. Good for you for not shaming him.

  2. How I wish my little men's brush with thievery was literary in nature. It was gum. And when we went back to apologize to the clerk at the newstand a very old man with a scary-scratchy voice raised his finger and declared "Santa doesn't give presents to THIEVES!"

    Unlike Catherine, I'm all for some shame when it comes to stealing from others. But I think you handled your little man's thought process perfectly!

    And yeah! You're reading on the 8th.

  3. I do love Boynton. Can't help but feel like if he was going to shoplift at least it was literary and good at that.

  4. Oh dear, I remember my one and only 'shoplift'. I had put a toy mouse for cats in my pocket, and forgot, and when I got home I just wanted to keep the thing. My mom made me go back and apologise.

  5. It sounds like he has definitely gotten the message without too much angst. Just the right amount. That's good.

  6. I have to tell you, my first reaction was to think it was just a mishap. I think you handled it well!

  7. wow, tough one to handle as a parent!