At what age are children expected to follow the Ten Commandments? The boy has a problem and he is only eight. For whatever reason, he is drawn like a magnet to the possessions of others. For the last several years it has been in the form of a stuffed animal. Or two or three. I have stopped counting.
A few years ago we started spending more time with our old neighbors and their grand-daughter. She was the same age as our daughter and would come to visit armed with stuffed animals. These critters were always unique, hence the boy’s obsession, I mean fascination with them. It began with him begging to play with the fluffy friend. After much pestering, she allowed him the opportunity. The problem intensified when he kidnapped the special animal and denied knowing where it was. This led to a 20 minute search through the house, leaving it looking as though the Tasmanian Devil had just stopped by. The grand-daughter left in tears and I fumbled through an apology to my friend like a scrawny freshman quarterback, promising to find the coveted animal before bedtime. After a more thorough search, I discovered a penguin with a shiny star on it’s foot under the comforter at the bottom of the bed. The boy got an earful, (the verbal kind, not the old school kind), but did not take home the message: Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Penguin.
This coveting of others’ possessions was first noticed shortly after his sister was born. He took the lovey he named “Little Pooh” from her crib and began to play nosey nosey with it. My husband and I didn’t see any harm, because after all, she was only 2 months old. It happened again a few months later when the sister received a bear bigger than her. The boy took possession in all forms, even naming it. We thought it was cute. Little did we know that we were silently encouraging his wrongful desires.
Last year we moved about 20 minutes away from our beloved neighbors and don’t get to see them as often now that the girls are in school. Before the move, the boy once again began with his addiction I shall call coveting. The latest gee whiz wow animal to appear on the scene was a big pink hippo and you know who would not let up with his feelings for it. Imagine my surprise when during the winter vacation I received an e-mail from our old neighbor saying that the pink hippo was washed and was ready for adoption by the boy. Truly this couldn’t be accurate. The sweet little grand-daughter had already given up her special penguin from her uncle and now she was willing to part with the hippo? I should have told him a long time ago, “Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors’ Pink Hippo!” but I guess it’s a little too late for that.
Two months ago the pink hippo came to live at our house. The boy is in possession of it. But somehow after running around the house with it, eyes wild, hair sweaty and voice senseless, it seems that the pink hippo has possessed him.
I am a bit worried. Is there such an organization with a 12 step program called Coveters Anonymous? If so, then where do we sign up? Because things can only go downhill from here.
Can you imagine eight years from now, when the boy’s friend has a girlfriend and he does not? Or maybe he does, but this girlfriend is unique. One of a kind. “Please, please, please, let me have her! Please! I really want her!” the boy will plead to his friend. Then the friend will not see her for a while. The girlfriend will be found eventually, safe and happily tucked under the comforter at the bottom of the boys’ bed. A lecture will then ensue. Not about hiding girls in bed, but about that sixth commandment.