Thursday, June 21, 2012


Last Tuesday, The Ninja and a friend decided to go shopping at the mall.

Without any money.

The two 14-year-old knuckleheads sauntered around, throwing two pairs of sneakers and earbud headphones in a backpack.

Until Ninja got caught sticking a wallet in his pocket in Big Well-Known Department Store.

I got a call from Ninja about 3 pm. "Mom......." Then a staff security member came on and explained what had happened. I charged down to the mall.

By the time the friend's mother and I got there, Friend was sobbing. Ninja was sitting nonchalantly, looking unconcerned. Friend was upset and promising he'd never do it again. Ninja said he'd just go out and do it again.

Big Well-Known Department Store was willing to release the boys to our custody, without law enforcement involvement. Friend's mother took him home, promising that family friends who are police officers would be giving him a strongly worded talk.

Due to the bravado and the attitude, we decided to lower the boom on the Ninja. Waited for a police officer to arrive. During the wait, Ninja started to seem upset, sitting on a bench with his head in his hands.

Officer arrived. Gave Ninja a talking-to while taking down information and writing an appearance ticket. Put Ninja in handcuffs and took him to the precinct. L. and I followed. More talking-to, from a detective and another office, took place. We signed for him and took him home.

He has a court date on Tuesday. We have engaged an attorney who is a family friend. Attorney says that what will probably happen, due to Ninja's age, is supervised probation, attendance at a StopLift program, and sealing of the records if he stays out of trouble for a period of time.

Earlier in the week, Ninja said to me that he's never going to shoplift again. This morning, he said that he doesn't know whether he will or not. I feel sick to my stomach.

Any advice, encouragement or words of wisdom, anyone?


  1. Oh Jane. I couldn't even comment right away because I had to swallow my own fear just imagining the situation. I have no experience with kids with the Ninja's background. But I did shoplift myself once or twice as a young teen. I'm not even sure why. Fear that I wouldn't have "stuff" if I didn't take it. Stuff that other kids seemed to have. I had a job from the time I was 12, so I had money. But I don't think I made the connection between earning money and spending it, despite being a straight A student! The emotional intelligence was just not there.

    I do remember the total terror that if anyone found out I would be completely unlovable. And that if I could do this thing... that I knew was wrong... that I was a wrong person through and through. I think 3 things pulled me through it. Realizing that I could have any "stuff" I wanted with some planning. Getting so busy with doing things that I didn't have time to think about owning things - and therefore that real contentment came from defining myself by what I did and being loved. And finally, having grown ups in my life who valued me and shone a mirror on me of who I was. In my case, not my parents. Not that they didn't try, but I couldn't see it. When other adults saw me as capable and valuable, I began to see it myself.

    Hey - this is like therapy :) I just realized something else... i think the core of it (the low self esteem) came from 8 years of bullying in elementary school and a lack of support from most teachers. Who, at that point, were the most frequent adult contact in my life.

    Anyway... hope this comment doesn't come across as too much navel gazing. And sending supportive thoughts your way.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. The whole thing has me walking around like a zombie full of antianxiety medication. It's just so hard to fathom with this kid.....he has EXCELLENT self-esteem, rescues other people from being bullied, has adults other than family who see him as skilled, valuable and capable, and doesn't lack for material things. We have taken away most of the material things in his life for the better part of the summer. It is very, very hard to stick to.

  3. Hmm. Could he be angry about something?

  4. Yes, he's angry all right. He's angry about the difficulties he has with working on school subjects due to his learning disabilities (and believe me, he has worked hard). He's angry that his birth father took off when he was an infant, and all we know is the guy's first name. He's angry that he doesn't get everything he wants, instantly. (Aren't they all that way?) He's angry that we make him do chores. He's angry that he's 14 and can't drive, can't leave school, can't get a job that will pay for all his needs.

  5. Sure it doesn't help being a raging ball of hormones too. Hard for anyone to see through that. Holding you all in my thoughts. Being a teenager sucks in so many ways. I remember feeling so trapped and powerless and as if I were living in a fishbowl all the time. I wish we could just show them that it does get better. I wish I could turn the clock back and show MYSELF that it would get better. And not to take everything so seriously. Holding you all in my thoughts.