Yesterday my four year old bolted off in the middle of the shopping mall, making a beeline for his favourite shop on the way to the supermarket. Which randomly happens to be Boots.
He is obsessed with lip balms. He calls them “presators” and aims to collect one in every colour and flavour. He currently has around six in his collection, all with little four year old teeth marks in them.
Safe to say he doesn’t need anymore, nor is he getting anymore.
He had other ideas and made to bolt out of the shop with it in his hand. Without paying.
After wrestling it off him and putting it back we walked out, to start talking about the consequences of stealing.
Police, lawyers and the law
I don’t want the police to ever be the bad guys for my boys. They’re the ones that catch the bad guys, and if they’re ever in trouble I want them to know that the police will be a safe space for them.
I don’t want them frightened.
Which is why I didn’t automatically shout out that the police would come and take him for stealing. That he would go to jail. Because let’s face it, he is four and trying to take a lip balm that I said I wouldn’t buy. He isn’t plotting a criminal mastermind.
Instead we started talking about the police, the law and the way you end up in prison.
Via a courtroom. Either criminal or civil. With criminal lawyers or civil lawyers fighting your case.
Explaining on a four year old level
Taking his police Playmobil, he caught the bad guy and was about to march him straight to his carry along police station complete with jail ready to lock him up and throw away the key.
When we stopped him and explained that he needed to give him a trial. He might not be the bad guy that you think he is. That life is not just black and white, but all shades of grey. Which led to a whole other series of questions because OF COURSE life isn’t black and white, it’s all the colours of the rainbow. Which served me right for trying to use a metaphor.
Back to the courtroom….
He knows what it means to argue, and being the middle brother he often has to present his case against who hit who with his eldest, or why the baby all of a sudden is covered in yogurt.
So we took this and ran with it. Explaining that he was presenting his side, like a lawyer would do for him if he did something which was against the law. Like taking something from a shop without paying.
The poor Playmobil bad guy was about to get his trial. The policeman shouted at him, the lawyer shouted back.
why you steal the money?!
I didn’t take it
You stealed the money!
Who stealed the money then?!
It carried along in this vein for a while, until he got bored at shouting at himself. And concluded the bad guy did it so locked him in the jail (until he escaped).
At which point, this cherubic, blond haired blue eye mischievous boy turned around and looked up at me to tell me stealing was wrong. That we always must pay, he didn’t want to meet a lawyer and make the policeman shout because policemen were good and helped you. Unless you were the bad guy. And he wasn’t the bad guy.
So next time I pass Boots I think I’m safe from him trying to run away with a presatator. Without being scared of the police.
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