Our family favorite is the Rangeline Antique Mall. We've been visiting, frequently, since the store opened. The staff is so friendly and the store and restrooms are clean. We love weaving in and out of the booths, looking at the interesting, adorable, and puzzling. Because we are all very competitive, we have found a way to add a game element to our trips by challenging one another to see who can spot the most clowns. The rules are simple: point at the clown and say "CLOWN!" before anyone else and earn 1 point. Whoever has the most points at the end of the visit is declared the winner. We've all had wins, but Sophia is the true clown-spotting champion of our family.
Something every parent can relate to is our constant need to remind Sophia not to touch things she isn't planning to purchase. I'll admit this can sometimes be difficult for her. I cannot tell you how many times we have said "Don't touch that!" For the most part she is able to control herself, but there are times when she grabs something that I'd rather she not touch at all. We've tried to explain to her why you don't touch everything you see: germs, it isn't your property, you can accidentally break it, etc. She listens and understands, but on occasion she still touches.
Today, Sophia and I visited the Rangeline Antique Mall, in search of nothing in particular. We had a lovely time counting clowns and giggling about various oddities. We were on the last aisle, and I don't recall asking Sophia to not touch, so it was a really great trip. Sophia was up 3 clowns over my 5 clowns. Suddenly, she shouted "Clown! Clown!" and I turned to see she had found a hidden cove of clown figurines. I saw two she missed, and she was still ahead by 3. We looked down and Sophia noticed a stuffed koala in a small, wooden cradle on the ground. She quickly squatted and reached for the koala. Before I could say "Don't touch!', she pulled it out and a porcelain doll also lying in the cradle spilled out onto the concrete floor and shattered. She immediately tried to pick up the pieces and began apologizing. She knew what she had done, and was upset.
I didn't yell because yelling isn't effective. I didn't shame because she already felt ashamed. Instead, I reminded her that all actions have consequences, and the consequence of this choice was that she would have to pay for the damage. We checked the price tag and were disappointed to discover the doll was being sold as a set along with another porcelain doll. The two dolls were $25. That was a lot to pay for a mistake. She carried the doll to the register and explained what had happened. I asked if they could call the booth owner to see if we could just pay for the one doll, and the owner agreed. She immediately thanked us for our integrity, which surprised me. Apparently most people leave the broken odds and ends in the booths. We would never do that. Thankfully the booth owner agreed to only charge us $15. The store owners were gracious enough to pay for half of the charge as a thank you for our honesty. I was overcome with emotion because there was so much to discuss with Sophia. I turned to leave and a lady shoved $8 in my hand. I told her she didn't have to do that, but she insisted and said that it was very hard for Sophia to confess what had happened, and she wanted to cover the cost. At that point I was crying, but didn't want Sophia to see me, so I just kissed her head and we left the store.
When we got home, I showed her the money. We discussed the entire situation, and came up with a list of words to describe the lessons of the day: integrity, honesty, patience, kindness, helpfulness, graciousness, gratitude, and understanding. Sophia and I each wrote a letter to Rangeline Antique Mall. Mine expressed my gratitude for the positive interaction and kindness of the store owners, while Sophia's contained the $8.00 along with a wish that the store owners keep the money for the next person who makes the same mistake she made.