Kim and I picked up Riley from afterschool program today.
Riley was sitting on a bench at a cafeteria table with about 8 other children playing legos. Our calls to gather up his things and get outta Dodge were met with his “just a minute”s. Our insistence was met with his slow compliance. He gathered his jacket (check), his backpack (check), his notebook (check) and the new handheld very cheap video game he received for turning in his good-behavior tickets (no check.)
“Where’s my video game?” My child asked to the other children around him.
They shrugged their shoulders, said they didn’t know, went back to their things.
“But it was right here a second ago.” He insisted.
“Teacher. Did you move my video game?” She said that she didn’t.
Now we’re used to this. As I indicated in my previous post, Riley doesn’t exactly keep his things orderly. So while he was feverishly lifting up random items on the table, I sorted through his backpack. I found artwork that was so special he wanted to keep it. It was bent up and crumbled and shoved under his boots. I found his pens loose at the bottom of the bag. I found his daily note. His spelling test score. Paper scraps from some project where he obviously had fun using scissors. But I didn’t find his video game.
“Teacher. But I just had it!” He exclaimed.
I asked Riley if he had gone to the bathroom. If he had checked his pockets of his coat. His best friend – we will call him Ed – was acting strangely. He made sure to lift up his shirt and pull his pockets inside out to show that he didn’t have it. I didn’t think he did.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of searching for his game, I told Riley we had to leave. I told him that I was sorry he felt bad, that I would feel bad too, and that in the future if he was really excited about a toy, he should wait until we got home to open it.
His friend Ed put his hand on Riley’s shoulders and told him that he’d make sure that if it was found he would take it home and call Riley during the weekend so Riley could go get it.
Riley burst into tears in front of all his friends.
His after school teacher got up and announced to the group that she knew he just had it because she just helped him open it and if it didn’t turn up she was going to start checking backpacks and pockets.
That seemed a little extreme to me. “No. Please don’t do that. It isn’t a big deal. Just hang on to it if you find it. You can give it to him tomorrow.”
“IT IS A BIG DEAL.” Riley insisted. “It was so special. And I worked hard for the whole month for enough tickets to buy it. It was MY FAVORITE TOY I EVER HAD!” He was hysterically bawling, sobbing. Kim picked him up and wrapped his body around hers, offering him sympathy and hugs. “Remember,” she said, “if it turns up Ms. W. knows who it belongs to.”
Suddenly Ed was hollering even louder than Riley. “I bet I know what happened.” He exclaimed. “I bet I put it in my backpack when I cleaned up my video game. I probably got confused.” He ran to his backpack and zipped it right open and there, at the very top was Riley’s video game.
Riley ran up to Ed and hugged him. “You just got confused. Its okay. Thank you. Thank you! THANK YOU for finding it!”
As we left, I glanced over at Ed and I said, “Thank you for giving it back.”
The three of us held hands as we walked outside of his school. “What did you mean when you said thank you for giving it back?”
Kim replied, “Ed took your video game on purpose. And he wasn’t going to give it back except that he saw how sad it made you. I think he started to feel bad so he gave it back.”
Riley was adamant, “You’re wrong Mamma. He’s my best friend. He would never do that. He got confused. He just got confused.”
Riley will not accept that Ed took his video game on purpose.
I don’t know whether I should value the optimist in him, his ability to see good in people, or whether I should have pushed the point that Ed had stolen his video game. I mean, I don’t want him accusing people everytime he misplaces something. But I also don’t want him walking around with his head in the sand.