My first 'Spilling the Boy's Beans' entry was rather intense. I think I'll tell you about something more lighthearted today.
Age 6: The Boy and Capitalism
Let me begin by telling you that The Boy has always been a smart cookie. He could read at 4. Nobody taught him, he just knew words. It was weird.
The Boy was a big fan of infomercials, they always got his attention. One morning, about 5am, I awoke to the sound of The Boy, talking. He was saying, "I don't know how to spell Broadway, I think it's B-R-O-D-W-A-Y." (He was in first grade, he wasn't able to spell everything yet. Our street name eluded him at the moment).
I walk into the living room, and he is on the phone. With an operator from an infomercial.
And he has my credit card in his hot little hand. When he sees me, he hangs up the phone.
I ask just who he is talking to, and what was he doing with that credit card. I might have yelled. Expletives may have been uttered - I don't recall.
He proceeds to tell me about his Christmas shopping he has just completed. He ordered two Battle Tops (one for himself, one for the kid who lived downstairs), and a HairDini for his sister. Generous, huh?
More questions were asked. It was likely that more expletives were uttered. I'm not sure, I'm just sayin', it's a possibility. I know there was a serious lecture about credit card fraud.
I called the 800 number he used to place his orders. All those lovely gifts from a single phone number - isn't commerce wonderful?
The customer support person I talked to didn't quite understand why I was upset. The Boy knew all of the information, his order was completed. I'd like to add that The Boy had a better command of the English language than she did. He was able to give her the items, my name and address, our phone number, and most importantly, the credit card number. He even figured out that 'EXP' was short for expiration date. He covered all the bases. The operator apparently didn't even notice that HE WAS A SIX-YEAR OLD BOY ORDERING MERCHANDISE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
I finally convinced the person on the phone to cancel the orders (that occurred two days later). The Boy knew he was IN TROUBLE, BIG TIME, MISTER. But I wanted to further drive that point home to him. I actually called our local police station, and asked them to send an officer to talk to The Boy (I didn't tell The Boy what I had done). We both got ready to face the day; The Boy got ready to face the consequences.
The officer knocked on the door and asked to talk to me outside. He was smiling when I told him what happened (he even laughed a little). Twice he asked how old The Boy was, and rolled his eyes both times I muttered '6'. The officer agreed to talk to him.
The Boy was looking quite sheepish on the couch when the officer came into the living room. The Boy said, "I guess you're here because of me." The officer had him explain what his crime was, and at one point, The Boy looked a bit proud of what he had accomplished. Big mistake. That is when the officer brought the hammer DOWN.
He spoke quite forcefully about the fact that The Boy could be taken to the detention center immediately, and he'd have no choice but to stay in a cell about "this big" (spreading his arms out wide), and he'd have no choice about when he ate or slept, and he'd certainly have no play time. The Boy did as instructed, and wiped that smile right off his face. He began to cry a little bit.
I know this sounds harsh, but I wanted to drive home the point that he must NEVER attempt anything like this again. That what he did was, in fact, a criminal act. I think it worked.
Here's how I know.
About a year later, we were shopping in Marshall's. I had my hands full. I asked the Boy to hand my debit card to the clerk. He took it and said very loudly (everyone checking out heard him, to be sure), "MY MOM SAID TO GIVE THIS TO YOU, IT'S NOT CREDIT CARD FRAUD!"