Thou Shalt Not Steal from my Sandbox

“Thou shalt not steal” is one of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. We universally know this to mean, “don’t steal.” Just like you shouldn’t murder people.

Lately I have been thinking of the concept of “borrowing.” It’s an elementary concept. We learn to share with others before we can talk. It’s an early form of communication, “Play nice in the sandbox.”

Yet somehow our definition of borrowing, or perhaps stealing, goes out the window as adults. We normalize what we feel is okay and not okay (i.e. right from wrong).

The Bible is pretty clear on this though. Don’t steal. Don’t take from others what’s not rightfully yours.

This weekend I was enamored with my dad’s binoculars. They are stately. The weight, stature and incredible precision were clear as we surveyed the ocean for dolphins.¬†They command sheer respect.

“I stole these from Poppy,” my dad explained.

“What!” [pull rug out from under Katie].

I was shocked. Like no judgement, I guess? But why would anyone steal from a father? My common sense tells me you would probably inherit those some day. Maybe not?

The act of theft in this situation cheapened the heirloom for me. This is a family artifact with memories of war, etched with “Ben Fowler” on the top.

If you’re following my blog, you might realize this just came full circle. I’ve learned that etching your family name into a valuable piece is staking territory in the bloodline. Recall my dad etching his name into his prized Minolta SRT. Perhaps he was less worried about theft in the army, and more worried that Poppy would get his palms on his camera without asking. I’ll ask.

But now my investigative work leads me to Poppy…

Ben Fowler is actually my grandma’s father, not his. Poppy and Suzy were divorced, and Suzy outlived by Poppy by several years.

So, Poppy, how did you get the Fowler’s binoculars?

That’s right, he probably stole them too. Jumping to conclusions, maybe, but now I need to know!

I will inquire with my dad on this, too, right after I finish etching my name into my iPhone.

Now that we’ve worked through the logistics of the binoculars, I couldn’t help but pause on what happened next.

Big sister, Mikaela, walked out of our rented beach cottage, wearing Noelle’s pants.

“You’re wearing my pants,” Noelle pointed out.

Mikaela, accompanied by her beau, brushed it off like N.B.D, guys…

Noelle got annoyed.

Little sis is moving to Colorado in a few days so naturally I sympathize with Noelle (sorry, Mikaela). Not to mention, you can tell my bias on the whole “theft” situation.

“Noelle, you take my clothes all the time!” She normalized.

Noelle responded by presenting a list of items owed to her from her big sister, with prices submitted to memory. (Who knew a water bottle cost $35?).

My brother and dad do this all the time too. I’ve never understood it though. Do you get a high from it? Do you feel like you deserve those items?

Where does it come from?

I am drawing a line in my sandbox right now. It doesn’t mean I am not giving, I just don’t want people stealing my shit.

In my twenties, it was a common thing for girls to borrow. It was fun! It was a form of flattery too.

“I saw your dress on Facebook and LOVE it. Can I borrow it for my trip to Vegas?”


Next day, I came prepared with my skin tight blue and black Bebe dress. I loved that dress. It’s sexy, yet forgiving.

The problem with letting others borrow your things, I’ve learned, is you might as well say goodbye to them.

Months and months passed before I was finally reunited with my dress. Multiple follow-ups, gentle reminders turned into, “Seriously, give me my dress back. Did you lose it? Is it shambles?” My patience had worn thin after so much time.

That beautiful dress still hangs in my closet to this day, yet I feel it’s slightly tainted by the experience.

Whether it’s borrowing (by way of permission), or stealing (by deceptively taking), I have learned to play nice in the sandbox by myself. You’re more than welcome to play with me and my toys, but beware “Katie Jones” is etched in every single one.



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