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To Catch a Thief

I recently discussed a small incident where I found that a lone little $6.95 ducky toy had accidentally fallen into my stroller basket after a brief romp through The Gap. This was after I had just packed my then sleeping 3-month-old son and near-3-year-old daughter back into the car.

I sat there for about 23 seconds (because I'm really good with time and I knew) and drove right home.

What followed was a series of lovely stories about good old fashioned thievery of the parenting kind. A box of laundry detergent, a shirt that wasn't rung up, and a pack of gum.

Seriously, what does gum cost these days? A buck?

We laughed. We giggled. We made light over our "free" things.

But then, THEN it became this whole "You're setting a bad example for your children because you pocketed a $6.95 duck and you're single handedly causing inflation and you don't want to teach your children to steal do you?"


Um. They're 4 months and 3 years old. And PS. I just didn't tell them I didn't pay for it. And really, what kind of awful conversation would that entail with a 3-year-old? Seriously, who wants that kind of pain? Agony? Torture?

"Honey, do you see this bunny here. Mommy took it. That's right. She stole it because she was too lazy to get you both out of the car and stroll you back into the store to give back the duck. So I'm probably going to go to hell for this, but I just wanted you to know that stealing is bad and wrong. Now go back to making pancakes out of playdoh and peeing on the floor."


So maybe I'd talk to my elementary-aged kid who discovered it was not paid for. And bring it back. But are we really feeling awful about a $6.95 duck that no one but the internets knows about? Would it really weigh that heavily on your conscience? It is really why prices are so high (oh I get it, people are stealing gas....)? Really?

C'mon. Let me hear it.


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A cheap plastic duck falls in a basket. Bonus.

To those of you who are citing Judgement Day (and by association, 'God' ) you will have to accept that your God put the frikken duck in the basket. Gospel according to me.

To those of you who put consideration for corporate profit before parenthood, shame on you.

To those of you who claim that intent plays no part in allegations of theft, (and by extension, all other 'crimes'), you are all screwed. Without the consideration of intent, any soldier is little more than a hired murderer, any priest a charlitan, any polititian an egomaniac,any charity worker an interfering busy body and any car driver simply a planet killer.

It is intent that defines action.

I'm in the pay next time you are there camp. We occasionally walk out of the grocery store with a free twelve-pack but we always pay next time we go. I guess it's just a matter of character, even though my kids may never know, I will always know and never be able to enjoy whatever the heck it is I "stole" so to speak. But then again, I have an accounting background and the times that inventory was off and I didn't get my monthly bonus really ticked me off. Do what you think is best I guess.

I think T-shirts are definitely in order here.

NOT ONLY could you have t-shirts, you could have onesies AND toddler shirts!

Just think of the merchandising possibilities!

Okay, I read some comments, and apparently some people are calling you a bad person. Oops. BTW, I totally understand why you did it.

Whoah, relax. Its just opinions. I'm sure they weren't calling you a bad person, just pointing out that if everyone did that, that things would eventually rise in price, which is fair enough. It'd be quite boring to comment on blogs if everyone said exactly the same thing. I personally have done both - I've gone back and returned stuff, but once I kept something they didn't put through, telling myself that maybe there was a discount I didn't know about or something. Bad, but we all do bad things once in a while.

I'm on your side. I have 2 under 2 and have had my share of random things getting buried under the not quite 2-yr-old, under the diaper bag, under her blankie, and oh yeah left on top of the babies head. My most recent mistake was "trying on" a little baseball cap and my 4 mo old's head til very much like you I was all the way out to the parking lot with the overtired infant and hungry, cranky toddler. It was something like $3.94. Lesson learned: don't leave things on the baby's head and triple check the cart. If anything I'd leave it in the car and take it back another time but really if its under $10 I say don't sweat it its an honest mistake and that sort of thing is already factored into prices.

Run! It's the apoduckalypse!

Seriously, some people need Valium. Judgment Day? Vietnam? Wow.

I am a scrupulously honest person, but if I were in the blogger's shoes, AT MOST I would have mailed a check to the Gap with a note of explanation. Or maybe I would have bribed my dh to drop it back off on his way home from work the next day.

And next time I saw my 3 y/o handling merchandise, I might say "hey, we need to pay for this before you play with it...it's not ours." No need for the heavy morality lecture, which would translate as "blah blah blah" to a toddler anyway.

But either way, who cares? As someone else said, it was a sweatshop duck manufactured on the backs of the Third World poor, so I'm not crying too many tears for The Gap. Really, if I wanted to be judgmental, I'd rag on the blogger about shopping there rather than about the damn duck! ;-)

We use a cart cover in shopping carts and many, many times one of the kids has pulled something into the cart and it's been wrapped up in the cart cover and not found for ages after. It happens. It's an accident. Karma will balance things out and the store has more than made the cost of those small items off you before you're even into the parking lot. I sure wouldn't sweat a $7 duck. Stuff happens. Life goes on.

I am just wondering if anyone has thought about this woman walking back into the store with her two kids and the buzzer going off, security running to her and with everyone watching they lead her off to the office because she is by the door with a product she did not have a receipt for? Of course the lazy SOB's would pull up camera footage and see that she was coming back in right? Suuuure they would, right after she got Johnny Cockrin to come back and be her lawyer and was tied up for months in court with thousands of dollars in court costs.
Keep the stupid duck! Do you know how many times you are charged the wrong price for something at a chain store because it was zapped wrong?

I wouldn't have woken the children. In fact, even if they were awake, I wouldn't have backtracked from the parking lot, let alone taken them out of the car. I would just return the duck the next time I went.

My mom has a rule of thumb for things like this: if you'd go back for it in the store's favor, go back for it in your favor. That is, if you would go back if you forgot a bag containing a duck you'd paid for, you go back to give them back the duck you didn't pay for. I like this rule because I do let things go by because it's too much hassle to go get my dollar back, and also I don't like to be the tight-ass saying, "Um, you gave me ten cents too much? So, here it is!" like I think I should get a medal for it.

I need the "Keep the Duck" button! Let's get real ... it's just a little duck!

I would STRONGLY discourage you from keeping the duck. The same thing happened to us a few months ago with a package of chocolate treats. Instead of returning them, we ate them.

The painful result is it went straight to my butt. I'd hate for the same to happen to you. Just think foie gras. Ewwwwwww....

I've been following the duck trail via MOM 101 and can't find the pictures of said duck (blindfolded, etc.). Sheesh! This whole duck fiasco is a hoot. [Love the blog, by the way!]

Wow. Just .... wow.

By the way, Keep The Fucking Duck.

woops, sorry for duplicate post

woops, sorry for duplicate post

I'm over 50, but when I was a grade school kid my mother marched me all the way to the five and ten store (it was a small town) because the nice lady there had let me buy something even though I was four cents short. To my mother's thinking, it must have been incredibly shameful to accept anyone's kindness, and she made me cough up those four sweaty little pennies, embarrassing the nice lady as much as me.

Keep the duck.

I'm over 50, but when I was a grade school kid my mother marched me all the way to the five and ten store (it was a small town) because the nice lady there had let me buy something even though I was four cents short. To my mother's thinking, it must have been incredibly shameful to accept anyone's kindness, and she made me cough up those four sweaty little pennies, embarrassing the nice lady as much as me.

Keep the duck.

So that's where my damned duck went!!!!

The woman at the Gap did not chase me when I left my wallet on the pay counter. And my DL was in there with my name and phone number. In fact, I went back later that day to ask them if they had seen it and they said "no". It was in the lost and found- EMPTY.

When I was five, I stole a comic book. My parents made me take it back into the store by myself and admit what I'd done. I didn't steal anything else for a really long time, but when I was a teenager--well, you know. My crime spree was short lived because my parents taught me the difference between right and wrong and I felt bad.

So, I'm the type that goes looking for the owner of the twenty dollar bill I found in the middle of an empty grocery store aisle. In fact, just this morning at the bank, the teller gave me an extra $7. I pointed it out and gave it back to her.

But a couple of months ago, I put a pretty expensive pair of tweezers in my shopping cart. They were still in the bottom of my cart, unpaid for, when I reached my car. It was cold. It was raining. I'd just spent over an hour of my time and a good bit of my money in the store. So, I sighed and drove home. With the tweezers. I felt bad about it, sure. But I still use them. They are the worst pair of tweezers I've ever had. How's that for karma?

To those who say once you slip, you can't regain your integrity, I guess my point is: screw you.

Life is complicated. No one does the right thing 100% of the time. So, if you think it's the worst crime in the world to go home with a stinking duck, I suggest you review your week. Seriously, get a piece of paper and write down every good thing you did and every not-so-good thing. Can you compare yourself to Mother Teresa? No? Until you can, shut your yap. (and I mean that in the NICEST possible way)

You are a disgrace to motherhood and the American Way. You are going to burn in hell for your sins. For a $6.95 duck. Yeah, right! Keep my seat warm in hell, will ya? PMSL.

Wow, anyone would would consider taking 2 kids out of the car seats, andputting them back in the stroller, and back in the mall, over this innocent mistake is beyond me! It was not intentional. And the GAP won't lose any money over this, trust me.

The last time I shopped at Target I accidentally left a bag of stuff I'd paid for sitting on the check out line. I had to drive back to the store to get it. The cashier acknowledged she'd noticed I'd left it there, yet made no effort to call me back to the register or chase after me. Shouldn't these common courtesies go both ways?

You know what? I would have kept the duck even before I had my son because, yes, I'm just that lazy. I've even kept things that the cashier forgot to charge me for and thought, "sweet! I didn't have to pay for this" and not felt the least bit guilty. At a store like The Gap? Who cares! If it was an independent retailer I'd have called them or gone back later to pay, but the freakin Gap I'm not going to waste any time crying over them.
And it does all balance out. I can't tell you how many times I've come home from the grocery store only to realize that I forgot something I paid for. But rarely, unless it was something expensive that I desperately needed right away, have I gone back to the store to retrieve it.
One last thing- had you paid for the duck and left it in the store do you think anyone from The Gap would have chased after you to bring it to you? No way. So fuck em.

Holy frack! All this hulabaloo over a ducky?

Someone said this: "Accidental stealing is still stealing." Actually, no, it's not. I'm not a criminal attorney, but I believe most theft crimes require the intent to deprive the owner of the property/ducky.

But I'm sure Kristin is going to hell anyway. I'll bring the drinks.

K, I totally want to put that Keep the Duck badge up on my site in the absence of t-shirts! Tee hee.

I agree with midlife mommy -- if it bugs you, next time you are in the store, explain what happened and offer to pay. But no special trip or phone calls necessary. It was an accident and it's a $6.95 duck.

It's too late to return him, he's part of your family now and doesn't tell you which spatula to use.

I wouldn't have gone back into the store either after strapping two kids in, but I would pay for it on my next visit.

I am not judging you, but I would take it back. That's just me, though. I don't think you did anything horribly immoral. I am just a bit of a freak. OK, a lot of a freak. I don't think you need to say anything more to your children than "we don't take things we haven't paid for".

Yesterday we were at an amusement park having lunch. I realized as we were halfway through our meal that we failed to tell the clerk that my dad (who I was visiting), was also having a deluxe burger meal. I actually went back to right my wrong and the poor guy (who was very new) looked at me like I had two heads. I said if you want me to ignore it, just say so. He said so. See, I'm a freak.

That's your ass, Kristin... I'll be by soon to take you to Gitmo... or have you sent to Syria or something.

As soon as I stop laughing.


Once upon a time, my then under one year old stole a lipstick tester from Sephora. I found it in the stroller when I was packing her into the car. Should I have brought that back? Yuck.

Gas to the store at todays prices : 500 smackers

Rubber Duck that fell into cart : 7 smackers

Sleeping Child : Frickin priceless

The first rule of Motherhood, never, ever wake a sleeping child.

I want a keep the duck shirt, and a onsie for the newborn.

K-if you get banged up, chances are I will too for similar DEEPLY IMMORAL BEHAVIOR. MY GOD, WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO? MY GOD MY GOD MY GOOOOOOOD!

If this should occur, and we're imprisoned together, will you be my bitch?

Most of the sensationalizing here makes me laugh, but A Dad, you've crossed a line, intimating a connection between the illegal and immoral actions of disgruntled troops and a $6.95 duck.

Amy, if I may...

I think your notion that K felt guilty and wanted the internet to tell her it was ok is only half right.

I think she felt guilty and wanted the internet to tell her that they too are human, and sometimes make the ethically wrong (or ambiguous) choice in certain situations.

This is not kleptomania, or a pattern of stealing or even entitlement. It's a mom who made the decision she felt was right for her kids at the time despite her conscience.

What's bugging me is not the disagreement with her decision, but the accusations hurled - I mean "judgment day?" Come on. Let's keep this all in perspective.

About 100 years ago (or with my memory yesterday) there was a song that was a hit for 20 minutes. It talked of how the parents "fudged" the truth to get kids into the show at a reduced rate, chesting on their taxes etc nd then wondering how their wonderful child had gotten himself in jail.
If Amy's initials are AEA then I am her father and am Damn proud of her. Frequently we do not know if kids are listening or watching but apparently at least one of my 3 kids paid atention.
During VietNam Fragging was the way to get rid of your idiot 2nd Lt. or Capt. Is that OK or is it murder? Now they call it friendly fire. What ever you wish to call it, it is stealing be it $0.01 or $100,000.00. Just remember that a Judgement Day will e fall us all. How will you answer?

I guess I am a big ol' moralist. I am surprised at the "it's okay to take what isn't yours because [fill in the blank]" contingent. I guess ethical behavior is out of style.

This has happened to us multiple times. Little hands have a way of grabbing things and shoving them into baskets.

And, honestly, we always return it. Have returned things we didn't plan on buying and even went back to pay for the $2 cookie cutter I did.

We've gone back to Sam's Club (Owned by The Devil Himself) to pay for a box of diapers the cashier overlooked.

Personally, I don't steal and I feel that I need to set an example for my kids. But, I can understand the whole sleeping kid/tired mom scenario as well.

i believe there is not necessarily one right answer.

situations grounded in ethics, philosophy, and morality are complex and we all need to figure out what is truly best for us and our individual situations and act accordingly. for some it might be keeping the duck. for others, returning it. for others, mailing a few dollars to the store to cover the cost of the duck.

our children will indeed imitate us, but they will, as they grow up, see all our actions, and, i hope, be able to interpret actions within context. for example, if my child sees that i am a mostly calm person in the face of stress, occasionally becoming upset will not "teach" him to react poorly to things--particularly if i explain myself to him in a way befitting his age. children will learn, from both our actions and our guidance, to create their own morality.

i think it's important to figure out how we feel about so many issues, and act accordingly. interesting post!

best regards.

I have 2 small children who are 21 mos apart in age. Just getting us all presentable and out of the house is a major feat. Several times I have put things on top of the stroller hood. That thing then slips down into the abyss and by the time I have payed for my items and heading out to the car with those 2, I forget what I put up there, or even putting it there in the first place. Then, of course, it falls out when I am folding up the stroller to put it in the van. I have taken things back in to the store. I also have not. Once I was at Wal-mart picking out buttons and when I looked for them in the cart, I just figured it fell through the holes of the cart so I went and fetched another package. The next day when re-packing the diaper bag, I found the missing package. I was heading back to return them to the store when my husband, a cop, told me not to because then he would have to leave work to pick up the kids while they hauled me off to jail.

I also worked retail management for many years and if a Mother had come back in with an undamaged item that had been accidentally five-finger discounted by the baby, stroller or diaper bag, I would have been understanding and forgiving. But, of course, I have always been a little on the naive side when it came to trusting people!

LOL!! Amy you are too funny. Thanks for today's first laugh.

I love Kristen because she brings up such controversial topics. Keep it up Kristen!

You're huh-freegin-larious... love this post!

HyphenMama - Oh my, are you queen of the non-sequitur or what??

You don't have the faintest clue what I (or the rest of the duck returners) do with my time or my money. How dare you assume otherwise? And what does that have to do with the price of ducks in China, anyway?

It seems to me that those of us who would return the damn thing are MORE likely to donate/volunteer/thank vets, etc. Moral behavior being, generally, consistent across situations and time. But what do I know.

Oh, and for the record, I have a 21 month old and a 2 month old, and I don't find it all that big a deal to get them in and out of places. It's more difficult than it was when I was by myself, but it isn't like I'm moving Mt. Freaking Fuji every time I leave the house. Sheesh.

Hyphen Mama -- smooches.

Really. Come over and wake up my kids and try to put them back to sleep, RIGHT?

Yeah, you'd keep the cute plush duck too :)

I stole a turtle. No wait. It was a frog. There was no price tag. It was on a shelf with completely unrelated items in a department store and we weren't sure if another child had left it there accidentally or it was an item being sold by the store. Long story short my father was responsible for my 18-month-old while we were in the store. They were playing with the frog and my son was not about to put it back.

So yeah. We took it. I felt bad for about thirty seconds. It was wrong. I get that. But not wrong enough to get all bent out of shape and hung up about. If Kristen happened to go back to that Gap with the ducky, fine. If not, seriously, are our lives that boring that we have the time to debate over whether she is a terrible thief for having taken it or not? Please.

I've checked my handy Karma Desk Reference and it does have a provision for mothers. It states "in the event that a mother of a toddler AND a breastfeeding baby is actually able to get out of the house with both children intact, she is automatically awarded a GET OUT OF HELL FREE card". It goes on to state, "If that same mother is also living with her mother-in-law, she is automatically awarded 100 GET OUT OF HELL FREE cards."

Personally, I think the Universe sent you a small token to let you know that soon you'll be moving and your life will be DUCKY.

I think The Gap owes Kristen some money (or schwag!!) for all this free advertising for their $6.95 Duckie!
But I have to comment on the holier-than-thou judges. You would return a $6.95 duckie, that the billion dollar retailer paid some sweat shop in China 50 cents for. But have you volunteered at your local Meals on Wheels lately? Have you written a fat check to your local Children's Hospital? Have you thanked a war Vet, or HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN for the service they've provided this country? Ethics come in many packages, my friends. Worrying about a 50 cent piece of plastic that'll be tomorrow's trash is a bit petty when you think that children's parents are dying in a war every single day.
Kristen... maybe you could use the duckie as a projectile to hit your FIL in the head with, next time he enters without knocking!!

Sorry, I have to be a "judgemental bitch" too... I once drove 20 minute back to pay for two $4 lip glosses that I had acidentally "shoplifted".

Accidental stealing is still stealing, two kids in the carseat or no. Even if you (and I mean everyone who admitted to keeping "free" items) couldn't have managed going back in right then, you should have gone back the next day or soon thereafter. I understand that Kirsten's kids here are actually pretty young and didn't even know that the item wasn't paid for, but that is not the point. But living by example isn't always when people are looking but more like when people (or kids) AREN'T.

And by the way, calling other people "judgemental" when opinions were asked for sounds a bit like the pot calling the kettle black to me.

As for Kristen, I still love your blog.

With the number of times stores have ripped me off, charging me full prices for sale items or double charging me - hell, if I were you I would go back and get Mr. Duck a girlfriend.

How'd you know it was $6.95?

I worked for a few years in retail. I have to agree with the other posters that mentioned it was the shifty teens and career shoplifters we were worried about, not the moms with accidental $7 duckies in their strollers.

Of course, if you HAD brought it back, I would have put you on my favorite customer list and probably given you something for free the next time you came in.

I usually take things back and pay for them when I get them for free by accident, but, then again, I usually go back in and make a big fuss when I get overcharged for something, too. I'm sure there have been a couple of times in my life when I was undercharged for something and didn't bother to report it because it was too much of a hassle, though.

Having been in retail management for 1/2 my life and a retail consultant for another eternity of my life... the store's employees steal way more than $6.95 duckies every day. It's the Gap, people. They are completely aware that hanging the little duckies and other cute things off the sides of their counters and racks will result in stroller collisions and accidental duckie refugees. And by the way...Karma works off 'intent'. As in... I "accidentally" rearended somebody doesn't result in the same karma as car jacking somebody at gun point. There's a difference in "intent"... see?

Seriously. It's a seven dollar duck. That is criminal, charging that much for some smelly plastic animal that gets hurled at your head during bath time.

Good grief....all these comments give me a headache.

How many times have you bumped your car door into another parked car at the store? Did you leave your insurance information?

Um yeah...so many people live in glass houses these days!

I'm thinking we'd have ourselves a new duckie.


Personally, I'm impressed at the number of people that would take it back.

BUT to then say you're setting a bad example for your kid by not taking it back... hmmmm...

And of course, you've all never gone above the speed limit, right? Because that's got to be a tough one to explain to your 3 year olds.

Amy - I often disagree with Kristen.

I just emailed her to tell her that gum is only 75 cents if you know where to shop.

Trolls? Jeez, she asked for opinions, and they were given. Not everyone is going to agree with Kristen just because it's her blog. That doesn't make those of us who disagree "trolls." In this case, I'd say it makes us "people who hold ourselves to a higher standard than you apparently do."

Moral of the story: If you don't want opinions, don't ask for them.

I suspect that Kristen blogged about the incident in the first place because she was feeling guilty, and she wanted the internuts to tell her that she wasn't wrong.

I think that all you've proven is that 95% of your readers are dishonest. This is why people are judged by the company they keep. I think it's hilarious that people are calling those of us who would make amends to the store "judgmental bitches," pathological liars, kleptomaniacs, trolls, etc.

I'd rather live in a world full of people who would return the duck, than a world full of people who would keep it, so I'll return it and I'll try to teach my kids to do the same. No amount of denigrating me makes your wrong actions any more right.

not taking it back...it is Karma...it all equals out in the end..you'll get charged for like 2 tops your didn't buy you'lll steal some dumb ducky, if there is intent there is a problem...but the kid is sleeping and dear god, I would steal a car if it meant not waking up the kid.

I've done it too, and I'll admit that pre-kid I would have maybe walked back into the store to return the item. But now? Yeah, no.
If something gets stuck under my purse in the cart I still take it home with me. I figure that I spend enough money in the stores I shop in to make it all come out even in the end.
If it's from a small, independent, store I feel quite differently, but it rarely happens in that circumstance.
Seriously though... I can't help, but wonder what the sale price is for this infamous duck. I bet it's not even worth $1 now.

WonderBaby tries to steal shit all the time. I always say, *no, WonderBaby!* Unless it's chocolate, and then I just take it from her and eat it myself. Because chocolate is bad for babies.

Some people need to chill the fack out.

Oh Kristen, don't sweat the trolls. You know there are a hundred other ways that you set a bad example for your kids that are far more worth commenting on.

I'm a criminal lawyer, and I remember being four years old and grabbing a wrapped candy out of the bulk section and my mother scolding me for doing so and never took anything thereafter.

If I'd found a ducky in my stroller I'd have returned it for my own conscience. Saying that doesn't mean I condemn anyone who would have kept it, it's saying what I would do if I were there and nothing more.

I have quite a few times gotten to my car to discover something hidden under a diaper bag or grocery bags. I also have many times discovered after i'm home that if i've bought 3 of something they've only charged me for 2. Do i go back in? Nope not ever. Becuz just as often, if not more often, i have noticed that i've been charged for MORE than i have bought or that sale prices aren't rung up. I figure it's a wash and it's completely UNINTENTIONAL.

Of course when my 5 year old son stole a pirate clip on earring he got in big trouble and had to take it back to the store...but he did it ON PURPOSE...it didn't just fall into his pocket. TOTALLY different.

Well, considering I just paid $5.39 for 11 chunks of garlic when my shopping cart actually contained only ONE, I'd say there are errors on both sides.

And really, people. Who messes with a sleeping child? Are you masochists or what?

p.s. it would also make a difference to me where I was shopping when it happened. If it were a small business I'd be much more likely to take it back. If it was a large company, though, I wouldn't worry as much.

If it was an accident, I wouldn't take it back - even if my kids were older. I mean, we're talking about a $7 rubber item! It's not like an iPod accidentaly fell into your cart.

Heck, I wrote a post once about how I left Target with a $25 barstool that I didn't pay for. I didn't realize it until I had left the store. They just accidentaly didn't charge me at the register.

Did I go back in and demand to pay them for it once I realized what had happened? Uh, no.

I was like, "woo-hoo, look what I got for FREE!"

I would have driven away and not given the damn duck one more millisecond of thought!

A short story - I once discovered something in the bottom of my cart as I was loading the car up after shopping at Target one day. I don't even remember what it was now, but I do remember it was a less than $10 item. I packed the kids back up (I only had 2 then), went back into the store, and tried to get them to charge me for the item. They were absolutely flummoxed. They argued with me. They thought I was trying to return it and kept telling me I couldn't return it without the receipt. A Laurel and Hardy-esque routine then ensued, with the result that I left 20 minutes later, with the item, without having paid for it, but with the store's blessing.

Since then, if it is an under $20 item, it isn't worth the time and aggravation to take it back. I usually leave it in the cart when I put the cart back, but sometimes I'll just take whatever the item was worth and put it in the poor box at church, to balance out the karma.

Enjoy the duck.

Can you bring that fucking duck over here so I can burn it in a ritual sacrifice and be done with it??

Heather -- I'll even spank you with the spatula.


Unless you are a laugh interpreter, I'm pretty sure my daughter would not have known what I was laughing about. I laugh a lot actually, not just about random ducks.

Well, I'm in the minority, I guess. I say return it, or send in the money for it with an explanation. I know, it may seem absurd for a $7 duck. But, you would have done the right thing and, down the road, if ever questioned by your children when they're older, you can honestly answer that you always tried to do the right thing (if it's true). It's not a matter of what the item is or how much it is...it's a matter of fixing the situation in a right and fair way.....everyone should try to do their small part, I think.

KeeptheDuck t-shirts.

only if they cost $6.95, and are yellow. oh, and made by The Gap.

Those who feel otherwise can wear
ReturntheDuck t-shirts. They can only be worn by people who live in glass houses.

I love perfect parents. They always make me laugh.

How dare you Kristin..already being in the habit of doing bad things. Shame. Shame. *snicker*

Psst Kristin....I once discovered a bottle of advil underneath the diaper bag as we loaded back up in the car. I didn't take it back in either. Let's go to jail together. We'd live the damn place up and we'd fit right in with our well established bad habits and lack of conscience. Can you bring the spatula?

Any duck that costs almost $7 needs to be stolen. Your duck, however, was obviously trying to escape the capitalist system and should be treated like a refugee.

i can't believe you are worrying about hiesting a stuffed duck when your f.i.l. just walked in on you having sex. :>)

BTW, I wasn't implying you stole the duck. It was an accident, obviously. I knew that. I can't type when I'm thinking too fast.

The whole inflation part makes me nuts. I really can't see that as a reason why everything costs so damn much.


I'm certain most parents have experienced this. Hell, Dawson managed to find a thing of Rolos and open it as we were standing at the checkout line.

I didn't notice until we were out the door and what's worse is the clerk didn't notice either.

I only turned around to pay for them because my husband works for the grocery store.

If it had happened anywhere else I'd like to think I'd do the same - but I'd probably be really embarrassed.

And he's 3. He doesn't quite understand what stealing is.

The person who said we're causing inflation -- yeah, that's a bit off. Stealing a television, maybe. But a freakin' rubber duck?

I'd have to take it back, but only because I have a brief history with getting busted for shoplifting (way back when I was fifteen and hella stupid), so I'm ever so self-conscious about even the fucking alarm going off when I exit a store with a security tag that hasn't been removed, and oh Jesus, I swear, I wasn't stealing....AAAAAHHHHHH!

But really, a duck? A duck that fell? And two kids back into the store? If I was another lady with no history of thievery, I'd skip it...so don't sweat it, although some of your commenters are trying to make you!

I think all these people claiming that they would have taken it back are just pathological liars trying to cover up for their cleptomania. It's a little suspicious when someone says "I drove all the way back to pay for a $2 whatever". Suuure you did.

Like how everyone and their mother claims that they do not and never have masturbated. Everyone does it. It's human nature. Stop lying to make other people feel bad and to put yourself on some type of strange pedastle marked "Saint Would-Not-Keep-$7-Duckie, the III"

I'd say keep it. If one of the kids had taken it and you were able to set an example, it'd be completely different. Seeing how it somehow ended up with you, I wouldn't worry about it. Not long ago I came home from Walgreens and found not just my shampoo and tampons in the bag, but also 4 containers of index cards. No clue what I'll do with them, but I sure as hell won't take them back for someone else's mistake. I don't see it as stealing. I've never actually stolen anything. But some times it isn't worth the time and energy to take back an accidental item. Esp. with two kids under 3.

Oh I love coming here Kristen. Anything you say is somehow controversial. It's fun. ;)

The duck may have fallen unnoticed by your 3-year-old into the stroller basket, but did she overhear the giggling, laughing and making light over your "free" things? Three years old is old enough to be taught that taking or keeping things that don't belong to you is wrong.

I'm on Team KeepTheDuck. Perhaps we should make t-shirts?

I have a hard time subscribing to the "you're teaching your children that stealing is OK" philosophy. An item fell into the basket (it was not taken, it fell) and you didn't notice right away- that's very different from a child intentionally taking a toy and you giving them free reign to do so. In that situation, I would have returned it later, but I'm not going to undo the whole procedure and haul the kids back inside. By the same token, if I got to the car and realized that the $7 duck I just bought got rung up twice, I'd let it go because I don't want to deal with unstrapping the kids and setting up teh stroller and walking them back across the parking lot...

I don't know, as someone who relies on my husband to be my moral compass, I'm pretty sure I would have done the same thing.

Stealing is stealing, whether you get caught or not, whether you have kids or not, and whether you did it on purpose or not. Even if you didn't put the item there (or fail to ring it up) on purpose, as soon as you realize the mistake and keep the item anyway, you have stolen it! Whether it costs $0.01 or $100 or $100,000.

As a business owner, I am astonished at how many people think that it's just fine to "stick it to the man" and take whatever happens to fall into your cart. Sheesh. I hope nothing accidentally falls into your bag while you're at my house or in my business, people.

I'm pretty sure the woman with the "free" iron isn't someone I would want to be friends with. If that makes me judgmental, well, so be it. I call it "using my judgment" which is something else entirely.

Here's your next blog topic, Kristen: "When exactly are Mommies going to stop being judgmental bitches to each other?"

Because personally, I would LOVE to know. Also, I would do the exact same thing as you. Even if the duck was priced at $50 bucks. I'm REALLY lazy, and both my kids can walk.

My mom and I walked out of a store with a $90 Rowenta iron. We bought other things and were chatting while the woman rang us up. My mom and I argued over who was "going to pay" as most moms & daughters do and we didn't think twice about the total only being $80 for all the stuff we bought. We walked out and both looked at each other (ala the movies) and said...."$80!" So, I've now got a free iron.

Do I feel guilty yes. But do I over pay for other things---yes. Had it been she gave me $80 cash, I'd turn around, but the iron...they can go piss up a rope.

Ya know...it happens. To everyone at some point. As long as your kids weren't a party to it, and as long as you aren't some compulsive duck thieving fiend then I really don't see that it's a huge moral dilemma.

I'd keep the duck, not feel guilty about it at all. Sometimes you get overcharged, double-charged, items break with the first time of use and in the grand scheme of things, one duck is not going to destroy the world.

My children used to put stuff in the stroller all the time and I wouldn't see it until we got to the car...I felt bad about keeping the stuff so I would go back to the store a few days later and just set it back on the shelf.

One time my 3 year old did put something in the stroller(from the gap) cuz she knew I wouldn't go back in. When we got to the car she said "can you get my bear out of the basket!" I asked her if she paid for it and she said no and was proud of herself. I didn't go back in that day cuz I had a 1 year old having a meltdown but a few days later I made her go back into the store and apologize and give it back.

The teenager working told my daughter "you know next time you do that they will call the cops on you? You don't want to go to jail do you? Mommy will miss you"

Honestly, I would probably take it back at a later date. I would just feel too bad about it. But not bad enough to wake up a sleeping child or drag kids out of a carseat I had just gotten them in.

I have gone back, with the two kids still in the stroller. I am not sure what I would do in your situation. I have a problem with cashiers giving things to my 3 year old. She now expects it! Unfortunately, she is cute and this is a small community. Really, all the hand outs that she gets every where worries me more than accidently walking away with a duck.

Geeze, you really stirred things up, didn't you?

I would probably keep the duck in my car, and next time I was at the GAP, make a big show in front of my kids over returning the item. But yours are so young, it's going to go right over their cute little heads. YOU already know you're an honest/good person.

Verdict: Keep the damn duck.

I wouldn't feel especially bad about it. Sometimes life gives you good karma and sometimes people accidentally overcharge you for things. It all works out in the end, IMO.

KEEP THE DUCK! in the scheme of things, your time is more important than returning a $6.95 duck. or even a $16.95 duck. it was a MISTAKE, the world keeps spinning, the kids will be none the wiser and there will be many, many more important issues that have deeper moral weight than this one.

i would go back to a restaurant if i forgot to leave a tip. otherwise, i am not a "go backer". especially to the mall or a store. i hate being there in the first place, so going back is twice as bad.

keep fighting the good fight kristin. i've lurked for a long time and thoroughly enjoy your blog.

Too much thought about a duck. Accidents happen. The retail world will surely survive!

just donate it via a goodwill box or toys for tots drive or something.
I worked in retail mtg. for years, you would be amazed at the amount of things we damaged out.( broke and threw away for even barely noticable glitches) That little ducky is NOT to blame for Gaps prices....
And while i do believe life always has teaching moments, i am sure life will hand you plenty more!

CALL into the store for the duck?

I'm amazed at the goodness of you people!!

I'm a terrible sinner and going to hell apparently.

*off to cleanse myself in holy water*

So, you're saying that a duck that accidentally FELL into my stroller (not taken by my child) is being noticed by my kid -- the kid that was nowhere near the checkout when I bought my stuff? And she's thinking -- Mommy didn't leave the store with that ducky in the bag that I couldn't see into because I'm 3 but now she has a ducky so she STOLE IT!

I tend to disagree with that.

Sure, if your kid swipes something from a store and they're old enough to understand it, I'd definitely say something and take it back. And if was in a MALL, and still in the MALL and discovered it was in my stroller, then I would have taken it back.

But accidentally falling into your stroller basket and obviously not taken by your child plus having them strapped into their seats already, I think is sort of a different approach. Of course, not saying that then stealing is okay and all...hen it comes down to your own conscience -- of which I apparently don't have -- at least when it comes to $7 ducks.

One last note: I know this doesnt work everywhere. If you call the store, an employee might come out and get the item from you. We have had it happened and we gladly went and help the mom out. She didnt want to keep the object, but didnt want to drag her kids in, either.

Working in retail, we were more worried about the career crimnals. The guy who ran in and stole a stack of shirts off a table. Or the girl who was using a stolen credit card to buy anything that wasnt nailed down. Or the 2 teenage girls who thought it was just the greatest thing that they stole a hat for their little brother. I think a few mishaps is not going to bring down capitalist as we know it.

I will say this, get ready. Your daughter is coming up on when she notices everything. Or maybe that is just my daughter. Now, at the ripe old age of 5 yrs old, my daughter constantly reminds me of the right thing to do.

I did take her in at the age of almost 3 yrs old when she swiped a pack of gum tape from the register. She was in one of those car grocery carts and I didnt see her take it. After I put everything in the car, we marched in and I made her give it back to the cashier. Let me say that I had only the one child at the time. Although, I suspect I still would have taken her back into the store, just add a lot of complaining about dragging an infant along.

Each situation needs to be examined and then dealt with appropriately.

I didnt see anything particularly harmful in what happened, but it has, also, happened to me so maybe I am bias.

This happened to me with some baby sunglasses.

I am with you on the price thing - if it were more, then yeah... but TWO kids, a stroller, and the hassle and potential HARM of crossing through the parking lot again?

Totally not worth it.

and no, you did not teach your daughter that the 5 finger discount works out well. Geez, what some people will come up with. Seriously.

I have gone back into a store to pay for a $2 set of pens that I found under my purse pre-kids, but in this case I would have done the same as you. Probaby the next time I was in the store I would have had them charge me for a duck. But seriously, I have heard friends talk about the way stores throw away stuff so I really doubt it hurts them at all.

Our local phone company publishes a "briefcase size" phone book. I keep it in my car, because I don't have a briefcase.

When my daughter stole a package of batteries from the grocery store (she's 21 months old) and I discovered it after buckling her and her 2 month old sister into the car, I called the store from the parking lot and offered them my credit card number. They said they needed the UPC. I said, "Um, she ate the UPC," (she was in one of those carts that looks like a car, where you can't see them from where you are standing to push) and so I didn't realize that she'd even grabbed it and slobbered all over it until we were outside). They had me meet them at the side door (where I could be in full sight of the car the whole 10 seconds) and they put it in damaged merchandise, and they didn't charge me anything.

Of course, I was the sort that did this even before I had kids. It was just way easier to run back in and pay for that case of pop that I'd missed on the bottom of the cart back then. If you don't, karma will get you, and karma is a bitch.

Anyway, I think my point is that kids are paying attention long before you think they are. My not-yet-two year old already says "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me" without being prompted. I'm not kidding. She does it because she hears us do it. And if you wait until you think they're old enough to understand before you start making an effort to set a good example, you're already too late. Like language, they learn ethics by being immersed in them, long before they can speak (or do the right thing) themselves.

You only get about 18 years to civilize these little creatures. In my opinion, it's going to take at least that long, so start early, and practice often. If nothing else, so that when they *are* paying attention, you're already in the habit of doing the right thing.

Even with your cats and dogs strapped into their seats, SB? hehe

But really, I think it's a price limit -- like if it was more than $10 or something, I'd probably take it back later.

But a ducky, nah.

I'm with Wookie.

If it isn't mine, I'd have to take it back. My conscience would bother me, no matter how many excuses I thought of.

I agree I would have made a point to take it back if the kids were older and knew what was going on. After packing the baby in, I would have done just what you did. Also I worked retail for many years and they actually plan on some "shrinkage" (aka loss of profit) that doesn't add up. Old items that didn't sell would get pulled from the system and chucked in the trash compactor... brand new merchandise just tossed to the landfill. My point is that your $6 duck would not effect the bottom line.

I would have looked at the duck and then at the sleeper and proceeded to drive right off too. My son did that with a book at Waldenbooks. I didn't realize it until we were at my car and putting the stoller in the trunk. I went home and K had a new book. He doesn't even understand what paying is, let alone stealing. So don't feel bad.

It wasn't taken off a shelf. It fell into the basket of my stroller.

I think I'd take it back... the next time I was in the mall. Surely this has happened to them before!

Heck, my cousin (when I was taking care of him) 'stole' a bag of cookies when he was 2. He had the bag clutched to his chest as we walked through the checkout, I had the groceries and 3 kids under 5, I didn't notice he had them until we were back on the sidewalk. So we walked back in and left them on the customer service counter, which caused MUCH screaming on his part, he thought they were his.

My concience wouldn't let me not take the duck back, but at 3, I don't think I'd say anything more than "Don't take things off of store shelves."

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