A Thief's Reformation

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“I can’t believe it happened again!” David wailed, flipping through neat stacks of papers. His tousled, sand-colored hair and tear-stained face revealed how frantic he was. He is a serious, straight-A student and was really worried about losing his essay. “I looked all over my desk and in the drawers for my essay that’s due tomorrow, yet it isn’t there. I’m sure it is here unless someone moved it, someone who just might be my evil pest of a 7-year-old brother.” Neat and organized, David hates it when people mess up his things.
David slammed his drawers shut one by one, hoping that somehow his essay would magically appear. Hearing the noise, Sam, David’s younger brother, sauntered into their bedroom and asked, “Hey, what’s the problem?” Sam was a lazy student, who didn’t focus on his homework (that’s why he has C’s and D’s).
Sam had an indifferent look on his face. His straight, brown hair; bright, hazel eyes; and double-dimpled smile made him look even mocking. Seeing Sam, David rushed at him and grabbed Sam’s shoulders, shaking him like a cat shakes a captured mouse. David’s blue-green eyes were sharp daggers of rage, and his dimpled smile was far from revealing itself. “You are the problem, you thief!” David shouted into Sam’s ear. “You steal my stuff and think you can get away with it!” Tall for an 11-year-old, David stood very straight and tried to intimidate Sam into confessing.
“Hey, stop it; you’ll make me deaf!” Sam pleaded and cringed, while trying to plug his ears with his fingers. “Besides, I never stole anything from you. I only borrow your pencils or erasers when I can’t find mine.”
With a smirk, David let go of Sam and questioned him, “So, smarty, how do you explain the missing essay?”
“It could be in your backpack or binder.” Sam replied and dashed out of the room.
David called out after Sam, “Fine, you sneaky rascal, but if I ever catch you, I’ll make you my slave forever!”
Coming back to the problem that bothered him, he exclaimed, “If this keeps on happening, I’ll have to resort to installing a tiny security camera! That’s the real technology that will keep my stuff safe.” David enjoyed building technology models that his dad bought for him. Patiently, he delighted in solving the problems when things were not working properly.
“Too bad,” he sighed, “that professional equipment costs too much. Maybe I’ll have to build a wall and divide the room. Then, perhaps, I can, at last, protect my things.”
Exhausted from the ordeal, David plopped down on his soft, springy bed and lay back with his legs hanging over the side. Sighing deeply, he thought about how the problem had begun.
A few months ago, 11-year-old David noticed that some of his special erasers that he won as prizes in school were missing from his desk drawers. These were the erasers that he treasured the most because they had vivid colors on their varying shapes. He was especially disappointed when his favorite eraser, a jolly, old, long-bearded Santa Claus wearing a bright red suit, disappeared. David had been suspecting his younger brother, Sam, for a long time. However, he had never found any evidence to convict Sam. On several days, when David came home from school, he saw Sam leaning over his desk. David usually confronted Sam, but Sam always made up some excuse like, “Oh, I was just looking for a ruler to borrow.” Thus, David could never catch Sam red-handed or gather any evidence against him.
David then thought about Sam. Sam had told him about what happened at school. He didn’t have many friends because he was bossy and cheated at games just to win. He was selfish and never shared with his classmates. Sam usually threw temper tantrums in front of his mom and dad, who were not strict or firm with their rules and decisions and usually gave in. As a result, Sam was spoiled.
After thinking through all this, David felt sympathetic towards Sam. David understood Sam’s struggles in school, but didn’t really know how he could help Sam. Then, David chuckled as he imagined what Sam’s reaction would be when he would be caught in the act. David hoped that the day when he could catch Sam would come soon, but little did he know that his wish would be fulfilled shortly. Meanwhile, he decided to sneak around just so he might surprise Sam more easily.
On a bright summer afternoon 5 days later, David came home from swim practice. He was hungry but decided not to eat his snack until he had spied on Sam. Then, he silently opened the door, taking care that it would not squeak and give away his presence. He stealthily tiptoed up the long, winding stairs that led to the second floor. Cautiously, he avoided the damp patch of carpet before him and held his breath as he approached their bedroom. He stopped outside for a moment and smelled the aroma of his brother’s snack – a peanut butter and cheddar cheese sandwich. The sharp scent of the cheese wafted into his nose. Since David hadn’t eaten his snack yet, the smell was so tantalizing that his stomach growled and his mouth watered. David knew that snacks were not allowed in the bedroom, and he decided that it would be another lesson for Sam. David’s muscles tensed up as he got himself ready to spring into the room and accost Sam.
Peeking into the room, David saw Sam playing with a whole array of erasers, the erasers that had been missing from David’s drawers for many weeks! Suddenly, David leaped into the room, spun Sam around in his chair, and laughed triumphantly, “So, you managed to evade me for weeks, but now we will have a nice discussion. There are two things I would like to know from you: why did you take my things, and why are you eating in here?”

Sam’s mouth had dropped open after David’s sudden arrival, and Sam stared, eyes wide open, dumbfounded, at his older brother. He often used trickery and lies to escape, but he saw no way out of this predicament.
“Well, answer me!” David raised his voice and his dark eyebrows arched. He is an obedient, honest, helpful, humble, and patient kid. Now, however, he was becoming gradually more impatient.
“I didn’t think anyone would be at home, and I thought that I could keep fooling you about taking your things. I took them because I wanted what you had.” Sam hung his head in shame after his confession. His face was red from embarrassment, but he had brought it on himself. Rude, impatient, lazy, and dishonest, he hates it when he doesn’t get attention but likes it when he gets his way. In this confrontation, Sam surely didn’t like the attention.
Five minutes of eerie, deafening silence went by. Sam felt guilty and hoped to be forgiven. When Sam slowly looked up, David was frowning at him. Sam feeling miserable in the situation began to cry. His chin quivered and he began sobbing, “I’m sorry David. I didn’t mean to take your stuff. I didn’t want to make you mad at me.”
Being compassionate, David responded, “I forgive you, Sam.” However, in his heart he still doubted Sam’s repentance, understanding that Sam could be crying crocodile tears. Therefore, he decided to keep an eye on things for a while.
After several months went by, David noticed many changes that convinced him of Sam’s genuine contriteness. First, Sam became more patient and polite. Then, he learned to clean up his messes that once were strewn all over their bedroom. In addition, he organized his things on his side of his room better. Finally, Sam didn’t rummage through heaps of scattered items as frequently. With those changes, David smiled to himself and hoped that Sam would stay this way and keep improving continuously.





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