Lock Saga – The Very Disappointing Conclusion

Sorry folks, Christmas is canceled this year. 😦

If you haven’t been following along with my lock story, you only need to know two things:

  1. The only thing Ollie wants for Christmas is the combination to this lock he found, and
  2. I spent a whole lot of time figuring out the combination to his lock

Since I did ultimately find the combination to the lock, I’ve kind of been coasting to victory here, just imagining Ollie’s face on Christmas morning when he gets the combination. All the hard work, finally paying off.

Welp, it was good while it lasted.

When we first figured out the combination, we realized it must have come from the school. “Do you think we should return it?” I asked. “No,” said Sara, “it’s been missing at least two months, surely they’ve replaced it by now.” Well, they hadn’t, and they wanted it back. Sara mentioned the story to Ollie’s teacher, who informed us in no uncertain terms that the lock is the property of the school and needs to be returned by Friday.

This was obviously pretty upsetting to me. I just had this whole magical moment built up in my head, and it was really hard to watch that die. I know returning the lock is the right thing to do, and knowing that, I have no choice but to do it.

Ollie says he found the lock in the park across the street from the school. It’s not lost on me that it’s entirely possible that he took it from the school, knew he was doing the wrong thing, and lied about where he found it. He is 5 after all. And in that case, forcing him to return it is unquestionably the right thing to do (and really, returning something that someone lost is unquestionably the right thing to do in the first place).

On the other hand, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that he found it somewhere else, or forgot where he found it, or did some other thing a 5 year old might do that was not intentionally malicious. And really, if a 5 year old finds a dirty lock on the ground, even if it’s at school on the playground, it probably looks like a thing that’s okay to take (here in Chicago we find all kinds of weird things on the ground all the time).

I just wish there was a way to teach him a lesson about honesty and responsibility without sacrificing his most precious possession.

Of course I could buy him a new lock, but honestly, I don’t think he cares about locks. He doesn’t like this lock because he’s really into locks, he likes it because he found it, and it’s his. I thought instead about buying the school a new lock, and rush-shipping it so it could be here by the end of the week.

Instead, I decided to cut out his little heart so he could learn a lesson about honesty, responsibility, and never caring about anything until you are a cold, heartless, nihilist with nothing to live for and nobody to hold you down.

Sara composed the following letter and we mailed it to Ollie:


Naturally, the mail did not arrive on time, and we had to print a second, black and white copy and slip it in with the rest of the mail.

Ollie took it about how I expected. He was VERY VERY excited to get the combination, and spent about 15 minutes just locking it on things and unlocking it. “Now it’s locked on the crate! Now it’s locked on the toilet paper!”

He is obviously reluctant to return it, but I *think* he’s going to actually do it. He seemed sort of resigned to his fate. I can’t blame him for not being excited about it, but I’m proud of him for doing it (even if it was under an implied threat from Santa).

So I think Santa may end up getting a lock for him after all. Now I just have to remember to snag the copy Santa mailed before he sees it.

We might not be completely out of the woods yet. “I’m going to try the combination on all of the locks at school and see if it works!” he said right away, and also “I’m going to tell [my friend] at school the combination!” So, uh…returning the lock may come back to bite the school a little bit.

I didn’t expect this to be so complicated.

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