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Grandpa Moneybags: When Kids Steal

Grandpa Moneybags: When Kids Steal

By T. Claire Kest

At 8:30 on Thursday morning, Charlie Hill sat reading The Wall Street Journal while drinking his coffee in his sunroom as he did most mornings. It was his favorite room in the house, a cozy, light-filled space with potted plants his late wife had tended before her passing. The ringing kitchen phone startled him out of his peaceful morning routine. The relic had been hanging on the wall for decades, and these days, it rarely greeted him with good news. He feared it might be a scammer, a sales solicitation, if not a doctor's office confirming an appointment. Nevertheless, he answered the call. 

"Dad, did I wake you?" His daughter's voice was urgent, almost trembling with anxiety. Since he got a smartphone a couple of years ago, she usually texted before calling, so he knew something was wrong. 

 "Yes, Katie, is everything alright?" 

"It's Bobby. He did something terrible, and I don't know what to do. If you hadn't given him the money..." Katie's distressed voice echoed through the phone. 

"Katie, wait a minute. What happened?" Charlie's voice was tinged with confusion and concern. "Did he buy something bad with the money I gave him?" Charlie replied, his mind racing to understand the situation. 

"I'm so embarrassed and angry. Bobby did it because you did. I don't know how I'm going to face Jennifer at the PTA meeting. She already judges me for being a working mother and using a nanny to help out with childcare." 

"Katie!" Charlie shouted, snapping his daughter back from her rant. "What happened?"

"I was at work yesterday when I got a call from the Vice Principal at Bobby's school. When I got there, Bobby confessed that he had given away $20 to ten different kids he thought were his friends. Word spread and another kid demanded his $20. Bobby didn't have any more money, so they got into a scuffle; not quite a fight, but the teacher who witnessed it said there was some shoving. 

Then, when I got home, Margaret called. She wanted to inform me that Bobby had given her son, Jack, $20 on the bus. She said she told Jack to give it back to Bobby tomorrow. 'You know this is a cry for help,' Margaret said mockingly. Have you thought about spending more time at home? A lot of employers are offering remote work,' she insinuated that I was a terrible mom because I work in an office as if I had asked for her advice!  

Mark had a late event in the city last night, but when I told him what happened, he said $200 was missing from his wallet. Mark thought I had taken it to go shopping or something. Dad, Bobby stole the money from his father. Mark was so furious that he wanted to wake him up at 10:30 last night to yell at him, but I calmed him down." Katie sighed heavily. 

Charlie waited, processing the news. His head was filled with ways to problem-solve the situation. Just listen to her, Charlie. He thought, recalling his wife's instruction when Katie was a teenager, and Charlie had fought the urge to resolve her girl drama. 

Katie continued, "This morning, on the way to school, Bobby said, 'I gave money away because I like it when Grandpa Moneybags gives me money.' So, he wanted the kids at school to feel the same way. But he stole the money! I told him it's different when you give him money because you earned it. Mark left before Bobby got up, but I told him he needed to apologize to his father and make it up to him somehow. I don't what else to do." Katie's voice calmed into a normal tone as her father let her finish the rant. 

"Oh, Katie, I'm sorry to hear about this situation," Charlie offered empathetically. "Do you remember when you were about four or five years old, and I caught you with a pack of gum?" He asked.  

"How could I forget? Mom told me I couldn't have the orange Bubble Yum when I asked at the store. When you found me, I was hiding under the end table in the living room with about three pieces in my mouth. You made me go back to the grocery store and apologize. I was so scared that I asked to take my giant stuffed animals. You only let me take one, so I brought the elephant, but I couldn't bring it into the store. I stood there crying outside the office while you went to pay for it." 

"Did you ever steal again?" 

"No, in fact, I was at the Aldi self-checkout this week, and I couldn't remember if I rang up the milk as I was bagging everything up. It would have been easy to walk out, but I had to check the receipt. Sure enough, I hadn't scanned it. If I had walked out without paying, I would have felt so guilty." 

"Exactly, you learned that life lesson when you were very little, but Bobby is testing his boundaries. He will apologize to Mark and then pay him back. This indiscretion does not mean Bobby will grow up to be a thief. He will need to remember the lesson, though. Mark is a good dad. Let him work it out with Bobby. I'm sure that once he learns the value of a hard day's work, he will respect other people's money more. And don't worry about Margaret; she sounds like an entitled grimalkin." Charlie soothed. 

"A grimalkin, dad?" Katie asked, laughing. 

"Yes, you can look it up. It's better than the first word I thought about to describe her," he chuckled. "Do you feel any better?" 

"I always feel better when I talk to you, Dad. I love you."

"Have a good day, sweetheart." As Charlie hung up the phone, he smiled, knowing he hadn't solved the problem, but he listened while his daughter shared her anxiety. As he returned to his newspaper, the sun shone brightly through the window, resembling an apparition of his wife smiling back at him.

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