"What's wrong, Mommy?" Mirabella asked.
"Somebody took our cooler," I told her, wanting to be honest.
"Oh, no! Now we can't do SO MANY SINGS," she cried.
"It's okay, Mirabella, we have another one we can use. We can always buy a new one. We'll be okay." My back-up cooler had just enough room for that week's delivery, so we set it out and ventured on to our day.
In the tunnel ten minutes later, Mirabella said, "Mommy, maybe de person who taked if fought it was deirs."
I considered how to handle this. "No, baby," I said, "they knew it wasn't theirs. They took it from our house."
"But why did dey do dat?" I thought about how to answer this. It's not that it was nice-- it didn't even have handles anymore. And I realize I left it outside, so it was really a matter of time. I was annoyed that someone took what was mine. Still, I wasn't comfortable talking about "bad people." I don't really believe that, and I don't want my kids to fear these mysterious "bad people" or think of themselves as somehow better. I knew there was a greater lesson, I just wasn't prepared for it and didn't really feel like delivering it.
My tone wasn't convincing, but I said, "Everyone makes bad choices sometimes. Do you ever make bad choices, Mira?"
"Noooo, Mommy, never."
"Really, baby? You never take toys from Emerie? Or treat her unkindly?"
"See? Everyone makes bad choices sometimes. We may feel disappointed, but we can forgive them, and we can move on."
That afternoon when I arrived at day care, Naomi said, "Christina, did someone steal your microwave? Mirabella told me someone broke into your house and took the big thing that keeps things warm."
I laughed and corrected her. Mirabella, always listening, said, "What's it called, Mommy? Da hotner? Da warmner? Ohh, no, the coldner. Somebody stealed our coldner. Dey maked a bad choice." I'm not sure I nailed this teachable moment, but I think I'll have plenty of practice.