Big girls don’t cry….but little girls do. Lesson Twelve: Don’t Steal

Big girls don’t cry over spilt milk or falling over. Little girls do. Big girls don’t cry when they are told to go to bed. Little girls do, and loudly. Big girls have learnt how to board up their tears when their lives are trampled over by wrongdoings. Little girls haven’t.  They don’t know that the world has a darkness that exists beyond the parklands, the cupcakes, and the dressing ups.

My precious little one has just discovered that there are people out there who can hurt  you. These people don’t even have to know you, but they can do bad things, or as MJ now puts it – naughty  things.

This week one of her precious possessions was stolen.

I saw the incredulity wash over my little girl’s face when she saw that it was gone. The pain, as she realised that somebody had been mean to her, for no clear reason. Just plain naughty. Somebody had come by and stolen her pink dolly pram.

The Missing Possession

Okay, I realise I’ve created a dramatic preamble to this incident. As a Mum, seeing the absolute moment innocence has been robbed from your baby girl’s life is intense, and cruel. Of course, worse things could have, and will happen to her, as to all of us. This was the moment where I could see the truth of the world began to be revealed to my little girl.

Her pink dolly pram that we have kept under the stairway of our apartment block entrance for over a year was suddenly…unbelievably…gone!


The last outing that MJ and the pram went on

We discovered the theft when we set out for one of our regular walks to our corner park. MJ always takes it with us to pile organic treasures in along the way. She collects a plethora of plant matter spotted with the keen eye of a bower bird for pieces that will fulfil her creative ambition.

Upon arrival at the park, a thorough process of careful selection is used as a delicate stick and sand creation slowly emerges out of the boughs of the sandpit.  After a reflective moment upon completion of the structure,  we leave for home with an almost empty pram but for a few treasures that will remain on her desk or windowsill for a few days. Recently a small fern branch was found dismembered in her bed – fronds everywhere. Not easy to clean up!

Our five minute walk to the park often takes twenty minutes thanks to these diversions, but it is a pleasant way to pass the time and a nice quiet escape away from the addictive monotony that is Dora. I truly only hear the same three songs over and over again! MJ becomes zombie-like in front of the screen and although I do love the independent woman aspect of Dora, I would really appreciate some original musicality please!

My little girl doesn’t even know of the concept of stealing. The closest I could get to trying to translate the audacity of this act to her, was by likening it to the naughty Swiper (“Swiper, no swiping!” from Dora the Explorer) who is always stealing (or ‘swiping’). He is the first villain-esque character she has encountered in her blissful two and a half years of age, where the darkness of the world has remained peacefully idle, until this week when it began to reveal hidden truths.

The little pink dolly pram is available in most toy shops. It is neither remarkable nor expensive, and has remained parked alongside our two other prams and her scooter (which were all coincidentally safe in our car boots this week. Maybe that’s how it was more easily observed?) for over a year.

It is dirty from her collecting. It is old and discoloured by the weather. The pram’s sweet pinkness and miniature stature is a representation of a little girl playing make believe and having fun.

Why would some random person come along and take a cheap item that would hold no real value to them? Its wornness identifies its age – would a child be fooled into believing some parent had brought home a new toy? Are some children so hard done by that such a toy would be treasured? Does this problem permeate throughout, or is it unique to our neighbourhood?

It is the first time my angel has walked to the park crying. And she kept looking for it…and looking! It was heartbreaking. Around every driveway and corner she would beseech, “I can’t see it, I can’t see it.” I tried to explain that it was “gone…far away, and we would never see it again sweetie”.  I think I led her astray with my Swiper analogy. I remembered too late that Dora and her gang always find the swiped items behind something (usually a bush), which leads to the ‘oh man’ from the outwitted villain Swiper. I think she believed she could uncover it as easily as Dora does.

Our park visit wasn’t the usual fun escape from our place. She lost interest quickly in the swings, slide and sandpit and, still crying, wanted to go home to look for the pram. She ‘doesn’t want a new one’. I don’t think she realises that you can buy the same ones everywhere.

I really can’t believe I have rambled on so many words over such a little item, but it was a crushing blow to my daughter. I saw the look of shock, sadness and confusion mingled on her face all afternoon, and my lesson to my daughters is this: DON’T STEAL!


It may be a little girl’s pram. It may be a pair of sunglasses left behind on a table at a cafe. It may be a video camera behind a toilet door. These items may look abandoned and yours for the taking, but they are owned by somebody else.

You should either leave them where they are, or find the owners.  The video camera scenario actually occurred to me in a public restroom in Uluru. I found it hanging on the hook looking discarded at the back of the cubicle door. I had a pitiful old camera and this was state-of-the-art. I came out to my (then) boyfriend with it burning shock and disbelief in my quivering hands. His reaction was instantaneous excitement – we had a free camera available to us!

I stared bewilderingly at him for a few moments and then I teared after a departing tour bus to pass on the beloved, personal item bulging with celluloid memories. My (then) boyfriend, a rather unfriendly fellow, was furious at me for giving in such a find which could have given us some more travel cash, or a better travel recorder. I was the good ending to somebody else’s story. I didn’t want a travel story about an abandoned camera I scored on my holiday, rather about one I found, and returned.

All items are missed and owned by somebody else. Even if they look lost, forgotten or abandoned under stairwells.

About the author

Elissa De Heer

I have been studying on and off for years and have postgraduate degrees in English Literature (Masters) and Teaching (Masters), a Diploma in Editing, and a Certificate in English Language Teaching.

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