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Kleptomania: (n) an irresistible urge to steal items of trivial value. 

I'm pretty sure my children suffer from a case of this. My kids are very lucky. They have plenty of toys and books. Even though times can get tight, they rarely want for anything. This doesn't stop them from wanting things, however. Really trivial things.

There is something the kids find so irresistible about free stuff. It doesn't much matter what it is. If someone is handing out flyers, they'll take three. On the way out of the Olive Garden, they will happily take a catering menu, a regular menu, a half-dozen of the manager's business cards, and some crayons. What, pray tell, are they going to do with all of this litter? Probably throw it on the floor of the car and forget all about it. I'd hate to see what kind of damage they could do with all of the handouts on the Las Vegas strip.

On rare occasions, my children have taken things that are not free. I often go to the grocery store with all of the kids. We usually use those crazy shopping carts that have the little cars attached to the front. While this helps to contain all of the ragamuffins, it makes it difficult to see them on the way through the check-out line. Many years ago, after a long trip to the store, Patrick informed me that Sophie had taken a lollipop. I was tired and the idea of going back to the cashier to return the stolen goods seemed like more than I could handle. I was about to set a really bad example for my kids and blow off the theft altogether. Luckily, I stopped to take a peek into the carriage and saw Sophie sitting in the tiny driver's seat, holding not only one lollipop, but the entire display of lollipops. I wearily turned around and informed the customer service lady that my child had just shoplifted forty lollipops. Fortunately, she thought it was quite funny.

Swiping candy on the way through the check-out line at the grocery store seems like a toddler rite of passage. It's the random lifting of "trivial items" that is so absurd. While making lunch this week, I was lamenting the fact that I had run out of toothpicks. Sophie told me not to worry because she had some in her top (underwear) drawer. Apparently, she's been stockpiling a collection of toothpicks that she picks up on the way out of restaurants. Really? Lucy, on the other hand, is a huge fan of crafting. One day, I found seven different buttons in her uniform pocket. Immediately, Patrick tattled on her when he recognized them from the art room at school. 

Needless to say, as long as the children are taking free things and not actually stealing, I don't really care. I just have to make it a point to raid their drawers occasionally and throw out all of the random bits and pieces of junk that they collect. Anyone have any creative ideas for what to do with fifty-two toothpicks and some business cards?
Toothpick art
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