I am thirteen
On Saturdays, my best friend, Renee, and I like going to the shopping center and hanging out. It’s the ‘in’ thing to do. All the really cool kids hang out at the shopping center on Saturday and we want to be cool. Then of course, we like to shop, too. Lots of kids will be walking around talking to each other. It’s great to be out of the house, away from our parents, and on our own for a few hours.
Renee and I take turns spending the night with each other on Friday night. Then one of our parents will take us to the shopping center. This Friday night, I’m staying at Renee’s house. So this Saturday, it’s Renee’s chauffeur, Leonard, who will take us to the shopping center. Renee’s mother is away somewhere in mental hospital. I have never met her mother and people talk in hushed tones whenever she is mentioned. So her father hired a nice man to drive Renee around. Leonard is cool. We like him. He doesn’t bug us all the time, like parents can do.
Leonard drops us off at noon on the corner by the ‘Five and Dime’. He says that he’ll be back to pick us up at four o’clock and for us to be at this corner and to be on time.
We have lunch at a department store tea room. We have our usual – tea sandwiches, soup and shakes. Yummy! Then we set out to be hanging out and cool. We walk to the bowling alley. Lots of the really cool kids are there. We walk around the place and talk to our friends. There are some cute boys from another school. We talk to them. Then we go to purchase some items we want. I get a wallet and Renee gets some shoes. It’s fun to shop and get what we want without having parents around.
We head back to the ‘Five and Dime’. It’s getting close to four o’clock. We want to have time to look at some records before Leonard picks us up. We like the ‘45’s’ at the ‘Five and Dime’. We begin looking at the records. Bobby Vee and Paul Anka are two of our favorites.
Renee states, “Lots of the really cool kids steal records.” I ask, “Who?” She tells me the names of some of the kids that she has heard steal records. I can’t believe they would steal because their families have lots of money. Renee states, “It has nothing to do with money. It’s just cool to steal records to see if you can get away with it.” She says, “I dare you to steal that record!”
I’m nervous. I don’t know what to do? I want to take her dare. I want to be cool but I don’t want to steal. Stealing is wrong. Renee taunts, “I dare you.” I look around. No one is watching. So I slip the record into my sack. Renee walks around to another aisle and puts a record into her sack. We did it!
I’m freaking out scared inside. We walk to the checkout counter because we have some candy we’re going to pay for. We’re standing in the checkout line and a man comes up to me and asks, “Young lady, what do you have in that sack?”
Oh, no! I’m caught! I’m so scared that I pull out the ‘45’ record and hand it to him. I say, “I did it because of a dare. I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!” The man turns to Renee and asks, “Do you have anything?” Renee answers, “No! I wouldn’t steal anything.” He turns back to me and orders. “Follow me!” I look at Renee. She says, “I’ve got to go out and meet Leonard. It’s four o’clock. Bye, see you later!”
She’s just leaving me and this whole thing was her idea. I’m terrified!
I follow the man as I do, I turn around and look up to see there’s an office that looks down over the whole store. That’s how, he saw me put the record into my sack. This man is the manager of the store.
I follow the manager up to his office. Sitting here, I have a view of whole store.
The manager is really mean to me. He takes my purse and goes through it. He says, “Whatelse did you steal? You spoiled, little brat?”
I respond, “I did it on a dare. I’ll never do it again!” He goes through my sacks. He comments, “You have money, so why are you stealing? You children are spoiled rotten. There are people that really don’t have any money. You steal and you have the money to pay for whatever you want.”
He’s yelling at me. I’m so scared! I’m thinking – I’m going to kill Renee when I see her again.
He says, “I’m tired of you children coming into my store and stealing. I’m going to call the police!” I ask, “Can I call my parents? Please! I need to have them pick me up. My friend has left me.” He says, “Sure she’s left you. She doesn’t want a thief for a friend!”
I’m trembling. I’m so scared that he’ll call the police and I’ll be put in jail!
He hands me the phone to call my parents. I call over and over again but there’s no answer. They’re expecting Leonard to bring me home. I’m afraid that if I don’t get my parents on the phone soon. This man will have me taken to jail.
The manager says, “If you’ll tell your father about your stealing, I won’t call the police. Have your father call me first thing Monday morning. So, I can be sure that you told him. If I don’t hear from your father on Monday, I’ll call the police. They’ll pick you up at your house.” I promise him that I’ll tell my father.
Finally, my father answers the phone. I say, “I need for you to pick me up.”
The store closes and I go outside to wait on the corner for my father to pick me up. I’m all alone and I feel like a criminal.
When I get into the car my father asks, “What happened I thought Leonard was bringing you home?” “Renee had to leave early.” I respond. Then I bravely tell him the whole story.
He listens to what I tell him then responds. “There’s no reason for you to ever steal.” I answer, “I know, daddy. I’ll never do it again.” Then he says something that I’ll never forget. “What will your mother’s friends in her Bridge club say if they found out? Your mother will be so embarrassed.”
I say, “I promise I’ll never do it again. You’ll need to call the manager at the ‘Five and Dime’ and tell him that I told you what happened or he’s going to put me in jail.” Daddy said that he would call him on Monday morning. He could see how scared I am.
I plead, “Please, don’t forget or I’ll go jail!”
Daddy says, “They don’t put children in jail. I’ll call him Monday.”
I was so glad to get home and to feel safe.
I called Renee, that little rat! She wanted to hear about everything. She apparently thought that she was super cool because she got away with stealing without being caught. She acted like she thought she was better and smarter than me just because she didn’t get caught.
All I know is that I never did steal anything again ever in my whole life. Some of those ‘cool’ kids did end up in real trouble with the police. Maybe I was lucky in a way for getting caught.
I sure never trusted my friend, Renee again or anything she said.
The obvious awareness is that it is wrong to steal. Nothing is cool about it. Also, you need to be very careful when you take a dare. An additional awareness is my father along with his concern about my stealing was more concerned with what my mother’s friends would think, if they found out that I had got caught stealing.
As I remembered this incident, I thought it so strange that this would even occur to my father. It made me feel uncomfortable that this would even cross his mind. I thought he would be more concerned with me. What I had done, why I had done it and my fear of going to jail. I wondered why he would even care what those ladies think.
Then I remember the reason that I took the dare to steal was to be like the others that I thought were ‘cool’. The whole reason I had stolen the record was because of my concern of what others would think of me. I was more concerned with the acceptance of those so-called ‘cool kids’, than I was concerned with what I knew was ‘right and wrong’. I gave up what I knew was the correct way to behave in order to be accepted by others that I felt were doing wrong. Therefore I gave up acceptance of myself to try and be accepted by others.
My awareness is, no one will accept me if I do not accept myself. When I live by my own standards and what I know is right for me is when I will be at peace with myself and able to totally accept myself.
Now I can forgive myself for stealing because I did not understand this yet. I can forgive my friend, Renee because she did not understand this either.
Why do we put so much emphasis on what others’ think when what really matters is what we think of ourselves?
Did you see how quickly my friend turned on me when I got caught and how she acted like she was better than me because she did not get caught? She was the one that dared me! What others’ think about you can change rapidly. What I think of myself can remain true. I honor my mistakes and learn from them.
My awareness is to accept myself, trust myself and to do only what I know is right for me. I do not listen to others before I listen to what I know is right for me in my heart.
When I accept myself totally, I will care less if at all what others’ think. Others will accept me when I accept and honor myself. I will live by my own standards of what I know is right and wrong. No one else influences me nor can decide this for me. I accept myself and know who I am!