Sticky Fingers

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If there is ever a time to start a life of crime, it's when you have an infant. No one ever suspects the mom and with all the bloated baby gear, we have a million places to conceal contraband. Plus, sleep deprivation makes you do unruly stuff, albeit unintentionally, like cut in line or forget to put on a shirt.fishy

But I'm not the one who has embarked on a whole lotta law-breaking — it's my 11-month-old, who with her vise-like grip and fascination with anything shiny, has become a serial shoplifter. I can't take her to the grocery store without her pilfering all sorts of stuff into her stroller (last trip, I found a frozen salmon back there!). From farmer's market stalls to fancy dress shops, she's got her paws in all the merch and no matter how much I police it, her rule seems to be if she can reach it, it's hers. I am constantly doubling back after leaving stores to return the stolen goods. As I apologize, she sits there stone-faced, looking like, well, a cute baby. It's a great cover. My older kid — the toddler who is almost three — will happily tell you about any wrongdoing she's about to do because for her the fun lies in the knowledge that she's about to do something bad and now has the pleasure of listening to what will happen if  (and more often, when) she does. She likes to be talked down and I often feel like the former FBI agent in a bad film noir, constantly negotiating with an unhinged con man. For example, recently in a restaurant I spent the last part of the meal talking the toddler out of turning over a glass of water after she told me she was going to spill it. While this was going on, the baby, unnoticed, lined her sleeves with every silver spoon on the table. I found them later that night, abandoned in her car seat. But now that she's starting to walk and spending less time in the carrier and stroller, her gig might be up. Or maybe she'll just take it to the next level, hiding stuff in her pockets and under her shirt. Maybe she'll even go Jane's Addiction style (remember the "Been Caught Stealing" video where Perry Ferrell pretends to be pregnant) or get her wobbly friends into the act, ala The Smith's "Shoplifters of the World Unite." If they take over, though, I'm warning you, you won't be able to find a frozen salmon or a single spoon. Have a little one with sticky fingers? Treat that baby to a helping of The Smiths to put those wandering hands in sleep mode.

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