A few years ago my wife bought a set of Mr. Potato Head parts for pumpkins. These are a nice alternative to the traditional jack-o-lantern because they involve no cutting, no innard scooping, and tend to preserve the pumpkin in a non-rotten state. After Halloween we pull the parts off the pumpkin, throw them in the dishwasher, and then put them away for next year.

Yesterday we came home to find that my son’s pirate pumpkin was gone. He is four years old and this is his first experience with crime. We thought it would be a good learning experience about stealing and sat him down to talk to him.

We asked him how he felt about the fact that his pirate was gone and he said that he was mad. We then said that it was wrong to steal and that he should remember to never take something that isn’t his because it would make somebody else sad. We asked him what he thought about stealing. His response was a bit unexpected.

“We should pick up a rock and put it in our hands. Then we should go knock on all the doors and ask if they stole my pirate. Then we should hit them with rocks.”

At this point I was working hard to not laugh. Then I realized that we were in fact going to go door to door the next evening for trick or treating and that this plan had to be addressed before it was put into action.

So instead of focusing on how stealing is wrong we’ve been trying to work on forgiveness, with a little bit of the impossibility of solving some crimes thrown in.

I’ve got to say, if I ever found the person that stole my bicycle in college (the theft was discovered when I went to ride it to a final) I’m not sure what my own reaction would be. Having something taken from you with no idea who did it and no recourse is certainly a frustrating aspect of this life. I wish my son could have waited to deal with it until he is a bit older. Until then I’ll keep one eye on his hands tonight, looking for big rocks.