They only LOOK innocent. Who knew that kindergarteners could be capable of such meticulous thievery???
This week, a scandal rocked the noisy playground that is my kindergarten world. Some greedy little bastard was stealing the play money from other classmates. Yes, the very same play money I lovingly printed which was then even more lovingly laminated and cut out by my wonderfully helpful Chinese assistant. The same money that my students are rewarded with for doing their homework, and consequently lose should they speak Korean during English lessons.
It actually all began last week during our monthly assembly which happened to be about good behavior (like keeping your hands to yourself and what not to do like kicking, hitting, pushing and all the shit that makes being a kid fun) which went in one ear and out the other with these kids since, for one thing, none of them can keep their hands to themselves. The kindergarten director told all the kindergarteners (my class plus the other 2 kindergarten classes) that the student who speaks the least Korean from each class will get to attend an ice cream party. Each of our kindergarten classes has a reward system and mine happens to be play money. So for my class, the student with the most money saved would get to enjoy ice cream while the rest of them would get to stay in the classroom for a lesson (which will hopefully be Chinese or Korean time so I can get some ice cream too). It sounded like a good idea at the time, but it created a horrible green-eyed monster, at least in my own classroom.
Soon after, I noticed Harry, who had spoken so much Korean in class the week before that he had to do a writing assignment to EARN money because he'd been fined so much, had a huge stack of money. I immediately suspected he'd pilfered my money bank but everything was accounted for. So I tried to figure out who he'd stolen it from. But no one was complaining. YET.
Harry isn't the brightest kid. He can barely read in English and the only reason he is in my class is because his complainy yeti of a mom thought he was too tall to be in with the other children his age. So that makes him the runt of my class. He moved from my friend Genesis' class to mine in the first week. Despite his deficiencies in kindergarten, this kid will probably (and frighteningly) make a great thief because he had started by taking small amounts of money from the others.
I confronted him about this but he lied right to my face. I put on my best serious face while suppressing the urge to sing "liar liar pants on fire" and announced to the class that we are constantly being recorded by the camera (which is no lie) and that if I went back through the footage (which I don't think actually exists...I think the camera is just there so you can view our classes as they happen and that none of it is actually cataloged and saved), I would be very sad if I saw anyone taking money from anyone else. Harry suddenly looked pale and squirmed in his seat. Still, I needed proof, and I couldn't prove a damn thing.
Then, my other children began to complain. I'd count their money one day and the next, there was a big discrepancy in the amount. And Harry's pile of money kept growing. Now I was furious. I look at my good students like Clare, Janny, Ron and Esther and it pisses me off that these children who actually would deserve an ice cream party wouldn't get one because some little goober stole their money. I suddenly remembered how Harry had hung back when I took everyone to the bathroom. So that's how the little creep did it!
Outrage spread among the students and so I made an instant decision for the greater good of my children. I announced that everyone was to turn in ALL their money and that we would be starting over from scratch. I told them they would each get $50 in play money. Harry looked even more defeated but he didn't protest. I knew he wouldn't because he didn't earn it like the other children had. After I passed out their new allowances, I talked to them some more about keeping their play money in a safe place and how taking things that don't belong to us is wrong.
I smiled the whole rest of the day. I was able to thwart Harry's plan to illegitimately attend the ice cream party and make it fair for the rest of the children who were all playing by the rules. I was so proud. Until class time this morning that is.
I don't actually start teaching until 9am although I am supposed to be at school by 8:30am. I use my mornings wisely and get everything organized for the day's lesson. Making copies, putting up the word of the day, gathering the books I need, etc. I have 3 students who usually arrive before 9am. Wendy and Esther are both very good, sweet little girls. Brian is my slow one who never listens. He does his homework well but I suspect it is because his parents tell him all the answers. This morning, long before Harry had arrived, I found a large pile of play money on Harry's desk. I asked Wendy, Esther and Brian what all that money was doing there and Brian told me it was Harry's money.
"Harry isn't even here yet, Brian. Where did this money come from?" I quiz him. But Brian turns away and tells me he doesn't know. So I take the money to my desk and wait. A few minutes later, the rest of my students arrive. And as they put their bags away and get out their materials, I have more complaints of missing money. I know how much each child should have since reissuing the money yesterday so I give the money back to each person who had their money stolen.
When Harry gets in, he tells me he is missing his money. I know he had $45 left from yesterday after I handed out the dough, so that is what I give him. But before we can even get to snack time, Ron comes to me telling me that his money, which had been on his desk before we went to the bathroom, was now gone. I go through everyone's money pile and all is in order until I get to Harry. Harry had the $45 PLUS what he'd taken from Ron! I couldn't even believe the balls on this kid! Taking money AFTER I lectured the whole class about it. And then, I found out he wasn't working alone.
Yes, slow-witted Brian might not be so slow after all. He was in on it too. It was then I recalled hearing Harry and Brian talking in Korean before class officially began. Although I only took and passed beginner-level Korean, I had heard them talk about the ice cream party. I was only half-listening though. Perhaps if I'd paid more attention, I would have caught on to their diabolical scheme. It was during our math lesson that I busted Brian for his involvement in the scandal. He'd gone from having a small amount of money on his desk to a large sum while my back was turned.
It all made sense now. Brian would steal the money early in the morning when the Korean teacher and I weren't in the room and while Wendy and Esther were busy working on their word of the day like the good little girls they are. At first, he'd snag a small amount from each person. Then he'd stash it where only he and Harry would find it. Harry himself would hang back when I took the class to the bathrooms. He made quite a show of "helping" straighten the tables and chairs so as not to arouse suspicion. Pretty clever I must say because I thought he just wanted to help. But it finally caught up with them. Harry flashed his stolen riches while Brian played low-key. The plan was to split the dirty money right before I would count it to determine our winner.
Thanks to my keen detective work, Brian and Harry have been banned from the ice cream party. I know it will probably sound mean, and maybe it is a little, but I told them both that they could try to steal all the money in the room and it wouldn't matter because they are not allowed to attend the ice cream party. I used the words "NEVER EVER" when telling them that they couldn't attend and that they'd lost their chance to win this month. The rest of the class breathed a collective sigh of relief. The kindergarten klepto and his not-so-trusty sidekick are now kaput, and that is the cherry on top of my day for sure.