I find myself feeling a triad of emotions over the last two weeks, very alone, not knowing where to turn or who to talk to. We have always raised our children to tell the truth, regardless of the consequences. We have been encouraging but disciplined over the years with both of our children.
What do you do when you find that your child has stolen from you and then lies to you about it?
Let me back track and give you some details here so that you may understand this situation more fully. One of our daughter's diagnosis is learning and developmentally delayed. Don't get me wrong, she is quite intelligent in some areas, computer being one of them. She loves on-line games, whether it be on the computer or X-box, and is quite good at any game she gets involved in. Over the last several months, she has been avoiding her school work so I put the brakes on her 'game' time. She did not like this, to say the least. Being a teenager coupled with her delays, it was extremely stressful for both of us.
For about the last six months, she has been asking for us to purchase 'coins' for her game and a membership. I felt this was a waste of money, considering the cost, so I told her "no, not right now". Apparently, she decided, somewhere along the line, that my answer was not acceptable.
I had cashed a check to make a payment on a rather large bill and to do some shopping. It wasn't quite time to make the payment yet, so I was going to put the money in my 'stash' spot until the due date was closer and then make the payment. I had returned from shopping, laid my purse down, and figured I would take care of the money later. I went on with my daily routine and before I knew it, it was late and I headed off to bed.
The next day, I needed to run some errands. I didn't want to be carrying around that sum of money so I removed the envelope from my wallet and in counting I realized that there was $500.00 missing. I wracked my brain, trying to figure out where it had gone. Had I spent it the day before without even realizing it? I carefully went through all my receipts, added, subtracted, and no matter how many times I tried, I continued to come up exactly $500.00 short!
How in the world could I have spent that amount without knowing it??? I was beside myself. I seriously thought I was going bonkers! I didn't want to go to my family members, asking if they had taken it, but at this point I didn't have a choice. Everyone, including my daughter, looked me in the eye and told me they had not taken it. Again, I go through my receipts, coming up with the same results.
Needless to say, my husband was livid! He didn't have much to say to me other that "How in the hell could you lose $500.00???" I had no answers, because I didn't know myself.
I laid awake all night long, going over and over again in my head, the events of my day. Everywhere I had been, and everything I had spent. Still...no answers.
The next morning, while everyone was asleep, I quietly went upstairs to my daughter's bedroom. I looked around, feeling guilty already for what I was about to do. I was going to search her room. I have NEVER done that with either of my children!
My daughter wears a fanny pack so that is where I began. I unzipped the first compartment on the front of the pack. I need not look any farther. In disbelief, I'm sitting there looking down on a wad of money. Two $100.00 bills, two $20's, a $5 and six $1's. Where has the rest gone???
I was angry, upset, disappointed, hurt, and frustrated, all in one big ball of tears. No one was awake yet and I knew I had to go sort this out in my mind. How would be the best way to deal with this? I was glad my husband wasn't home. His mother had just had recent surgery and he was staying with her in the hospital.
I made another pot of coffee, lit a cigarette, and found myself clicking in and out of groups on facebook, not really paying attention to anything I was seeing. I checked my twitter, email, and whatever else I could find to distract me from the task at hand.
After I had calmed down, I woke my daughter up. My son was away for the day. I asked her again about taking the money, praying she would be honest. That is all I wanted was for her to tell me the truth. She didn't. I slowly pulled the wad of money out of my robe pocket and told her that I had found it in her fanny pack. I asked her where she got it. She replied in the feeblest voice "from your purse". Once the words left her lips, I couldn't say anything. She was crying and kept telling me she didn't know she was doing it. Finally, I was able to ask her "Why?" She answered that she didn't know. My final question was "where is the rest?' She didn't know. I knew she hadn't been anywhere except for a short trip to Walmart with my father, but what could she have purchased there, at that amount, that he wouldn't have noticed.
I spent the day, again, wracking my brain for answers. My son had come home late in the evening from his event and was exhausted, retiring early to bed. During the night, a light-bulb went off in my head. COINS! Surely, she didn't! Surely, she wouldn't! It would make sense though. You can purchase those coin and membership cards in Walmart. My father wouldn't have ever known if she bought them in the game section and slipped them into her fanny pack. I woke my son and asked him to log into her account. Once he was in, I asked him to check to see if she had any purchased coins in her account. Oh yes, there it was! Not only did she have coins, but she had a membership until the end of April. I asked him to add up the total of what she had in her account. When he got to $190.00 I told him just to log out and close it down. I had found the missing money.
At this point, I prayed that my daughter stayed asleep. I was so angry I couldn't see straight! $200 some spent on stupid, ridiculous, idiotic, and whatever words you can thing of, games! I immediately removed the game from the computer, continuing on to remove her account from the computer and changing the password so that she would have no access. The computer is locked down!
Even after taking internet and gaming access away from her, she still contends it wasn't her fault and she didn't know what she was doing. She truly doesn't understand the depth of what she did. I don't know how to make her understand. I tried to explain to her that by lying to me, I am having a difficult time trusting her and that I doubt her now every time she tells me something. I tried to explain that by stealing from me, I find myself not wanting to leave her alone because I'm not sure what she will take. She doesn't understand.
Yesterday, was an extremely difficult day. I left my phone on the dining room table and she quietly took it and logged onto You Tube. I immediately told her to log-out and bring my phone to me. We had already been arguing about getting her studies done and she wasn't too happy with me, at that point. When she walked towards me, I put my hand out for the phone, and just before she got to me she dropped it and gave me a glare. Again, I could feel the anger soaring within. I made her turn the TV off and she became extremely upset with me. She went into the kitchen and everything went quiet. I peeked around the corner and there she stood with a knife in her hands, tilting it back and forth, looking at the reflection of the sun on the blade. I walked in behind her and in a quiet voice asked her what she was doing. She stood there, with her back to me, continuing to tilt the blade back and forth, and answered "I don't know". I easily took the knife from her hands and told her she needed to get a book and read. This happened four more times before I finally got her calmed down enough to sit down and start reading. She read for about 50 minutes and then dozed off. When she woke up, she sat up and asked if she could go to her room and listen to music.
My daughter came back downstairs about an hour and a half later, went into the kitchen and made herself a sandwich. She came through the house, talking to me as though nothing had ever happened. She was happy and chipper, conversing with everyone. She was her 'normal' self. Today, she awoke early and without prompting, started her school work right after breakfast.
I feel as though I am doing something wrong. I try to remember that she has issues that cloud her judgement. But to find your daughter, glaring at a knife blade and not knowing why scares the shit out of me.
What do YOU do when you have no answers? Where do you go to find them? Who do you turn to?