18 Jul
The Case of the Purloined Piggy Bank

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

Every birthday and holiday that rolls around, my son gets a few bucks in his cards, and I’ve been stuffing it in his piggy bank. Three years have gone by, and it’s added up to around $150 in small bills. I tucked the bank back in the corner of his closet and forgot about it. Today, I popped it open and found that the money is gone. We don’t have a lot of guests, we are fairly new in a big city without nearby family, and I’ve never had a playdate here. The only people that have been in my son’s room are:

1) the housekeeper, “Helen”
2) the babysitter, “Barb”
3) the babysitter’s 10 year old daughter, “Sticky Fingers”

I don’t think it was Helen. She came highly recommended and her whole family has worked for a good friend of mine in one capacity or another for almost 20 years. I don’t think Barb did it, either. Her references checked out before we hired her, and I don’t think she would risk losing her job. This leaves me with Sticky Fingers… for one, she’s a kid, and kids do stupid things. They are easily tempted. I teach high school, and boy, do I know how kids lie. I’m without a confession (she denied it) or hard proof, just my gut. Do I fire Barb for not watching Sticky Fingers more carefully? Keep Barb, but say Sticky is not welcome? Is the cloud of suspicion just so thick, that I have to fire everyone and start over?

Sincerely, Chump Change

________________________________________________

Dear Chump Change,

Let me start off by saying that I know first-hand the emotions that come from having something stolen from you. Theft leaves you feeling completely violated and helpless, and it can take some time to recover from something like that.

That said, I think that, if you like this babysitter, you will have to get over it.

The truth is that you’ll never know who the bandit was.   And even though my money is certainly on Sticky Fingers (that thieving little so-and-so), I kind of feel badly for her. I mean you, of course! But also her. Okay, mostly her.

You see, I am not surprised at all at the idea of a 10 year-old stealing. I am a little saddened by it, however. Call me “soft” or “ridden with childhood trauma,” but I happen to be of the belief that, if a kid is taking things, that kid is in need of attention or love. (Or, you know, in this case, money.) This certainly doesn’t justify her actions, but I think that if you put yourself in her shoes for a moment, you’ll actually be helping yourself in the end.

First, you need to make it clear-respectfully but terrifyingly so-that any misdeeds are absolutely not tolerated in your home. And if you do that well enough, the fear instilled within the young girl should be enough to keep her hands steady. (If not, laser beams, blow horns, dobermans, and booby traps will.)

Second, consider how you might help keep those hands of hers occupied while her mother is working. Surely she can’t enjoy having to tag along with mom. Do you have books or arts and crafts appropriate for someone her age? Or a closet with a window? Basement? Garage? Just spitballing here…

So. Do you love Barb or what? If so, you’ll simply have to figure a way to make it work. Just be proactive about keeping your belongings safe, lay down some iron-clad ground rules, and keep that girl busy.

(But if it happens again, fire that woman and her jerky kid without a second thought.)

My best,

Kristine, TMH

And if you’re looking for some mid-summer fun to keep your kids out of your hair entertained in an educational fashion, be sure to check out The Mouthy Housewives’ Tip of the Week: Surviving Summer Vacation!

15 Responses to “The Case of the Purloined Piggy Bank”

07.18.11#1

Comment by Woohoo.

She doesn’t mention how old her son is, but unless he’s under 5 years old I’d add him to the list of suspects. The kid found a stash of money in his closet, & spent it on dope, porn, booze, & other popular delinquent-kid pastimes.

I’d go with a silent-but-deadly approach: don’t say anything, rig the piggy with exploding dye, and let the results speak for themselves.

Kristine Reply:

I love the exploding dye idea!

And I was debating implicating her husband, myself.

skrink Reply:

That was my first thought – how old is the son? With an older child I definitely wouldn’t rule out that possibility. My 9 yo has gone down this path a time or two. I also have a friend whose husband was dipping into the kids’ piggy banks. Things are NOT always what they seem!

Kristine Reply:

She said “three years have gone by” so I assumed the boy was three. What do you think?

07.18.11#2

Comment by Wendi.

I agree with your advice, mostly. Because while the 10yo may be starved for attention, etc., she also may be just be a bad kid. We all know they exist.

I, too, wonder about the husband. It’s worth asking him at least.

07.18.11#3

Comment by natecammom.

You mentioned that you are in a new city. Did you move recently? Did you pack yourself or have a moving company do it? Could one of the packers have snatched the money? We move every two years or so and most of the packers that moving companies hire are local temp employees.

Wendi Reply:

Oooh, good detective work!

07.18.11#4

Comment by Angie@MamaInsomnia.

Kids are easily manipulated. Play the old, “We have a camera in baby boy’s room and I saw something very interesting” routine next time you see her and see how she reacts.
Clearly I’ve been watching The Closer too much…

07.18.11#5

Comment by Plano Mom.

My daughter once had 10 dollars stolen from her wallet. Twice. Then we put a note in her wallet that said “If you really need the money, please tell me so I can really help you.”

Never had another bill stolen.

Tonya Reply:

I like that! Guilt is always the best weapon!!!

Desperate Dietwives Reply:

But on the other hand she might have found another note in the empty wallet: “No, thank you, I prefer to help myself”

07.18.11#6

Comment by Bewildered Bug.

Poor little boy to have his money stolen like that. I know what it feels like!

When I was a little older than your son, my Mom was teaching me to save and I went nuts – I had a purse that I kept at the back of a drawer and I put any money people gave me as well as a portion of my allowance in there. I did it for more than a year and managed to save almost $1000! I was so proud and so was my Mom.

She suggested we put it in a bank, when we went to get it – the entire thing had gone missing!

….and the lady who helped my Mom clean the house disappeared….

Even her parents didn’t know where she was – we heard later that she left the country – don’t know if it’s true – but I try to keep in mind that karma’s a b*tch and that woman will get what she deserves (if she hasn’t already!)

Kristine Reply:

I’m in awe that a five year-old could save $1000 in a year. I can’t do that at age 32.

Bewildered Bug Reply:

Yep – as a 32 year old I cannot do it anymore 🙁

03.23.12#7

Comment by No Coveting My Caregiver! | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] I know some women like to avoid confrontation. I, on the other hand, believe wholeheartedly in being open and honest and trying to stop a situation before it gets out of hand. So I suggest that you bring up the matter with the soon to be “nanny stealer.” It doesn’t have to be a confrontation. Just explain to your co-worker how much your nanny means to your family, how much your child loves her, relies on her, and trusts her. Tell her that you had heard — rightly or wrongly — that she may be in the process of asking your nanny to leave and come to work for her. Tell her how much this loss would hurt you, not to mention the huge burden your family would have to endure in trying to find someone as trustworthy. […]

Consider Checking Out...