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During the weekend, I brought my child on a walk around suburbs. There were grocery shops and other stores, but a particular toy store attracted my son’s curiosity. I accompanied him into the store to look around.

The store wasn’t large, but there was a good array of small ornaments and toys that filled the shelves. I began looking around, while my son wandered off on a treasure hunt to look for the things he liked. Usually, I always had restrictions on when to buy toys. Only when there’s a special occasion such as a day of especially good behavior, holidays, or birthdays would I promise to buy him a toy to reward him.

My son knew my principles, so although he wanted many toys, he always understood that he cannot casually buy toys all the time. Therefore, I was assured to let him wander around the store.

A few minutes later, I wandered to another side of the store and suddenly heard the owner exchanging words with my son. His tone seemed a little reproachful. I went over to see what was going on and saw my son next to a toy that he really wanted for some time now. There was a thin paper wrap around the toy, but there was a hole punctured in it at a corner.

I knew that my son had wanted to buy this toy for a long time, so this time when he saw it, he couldn’t help but take it down and look at it. Because the box is very large and the plastic on top was so thin, he accidentally broke the paper with his thumb as he was taking it. After the owner saw, he politely told my child to be careful and said that now other customers wouldn’t want to buy the toy because he broke the packaging.

I looked at my son standing expressionlessly next to the toy. I felt that he looked at me with a tinge of panic, as if he was thinking whether or not I would punish him, so I went to squat down in front f him and said that because he accidentally broke the packaging, no one else would want to buy it anymore and the owner cannot sell the toy. I saw that the price of the toy wasn’t too high, so I told my son that I was going to buy it. However, I wanted him to take responsibility for his own actions so I asked him to apologize to the owner and pay me back with his own pocket money after we get home. My son understood and sheepishly said sorry to the owner. The owner, in the end, decided give us a discount, so all three of us were happy.

After returning home, my son dug out the correct amount of money from his piggy bank and gave it to me. I told him to remember this experience, and that next time he should be careful and not touch anything unless it was necessary. If it was, though, he should be careful while handling them. It was a good thing that the toy this time wasn’t too expensive, but if it happens again to a more expensive toy, even I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Although my son was quite happy with getting a new, unexpected toy, I said that although he did pay for it, I don’t want him to think it was okay and keep on breaking the packaging on toys unless he got my praise for his behavior then he can punch a hole to get one toy inside. My son nodded and was very happy to agree, then I also added something that I can praise him further. I think if it works well, I should buy another one the next time.

Writer :   Yuyu Chiang

Translation :  Ireen Chau

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