One of my most vivid memories from elementary school was when for a day I was known as a crayon thief. I didn’t realize that stealing was wrong at the time, I just wanted to draw more at home and our art teacher, Mrs. Letchen had the perfect crayons for doing so. I remember how this one boy, Ari, kept coming over to my art table with different types of crayons that I had never drawn with before. One of them was a sort of rectangular shape and had multiple different colors on it so when you drew with it, it was like drawing a rainbow with one crayon. The other crayon that caught my eye was a cobalt blue pastel. I remember liking how smooth it felt when I was coloring with it. I sat at one of the smaller tables with one other girl named Jennifer. I’m not really sure what happened to Jennifer. The only times I ever saw her after elementary school were at our neighborhood pool, and she had become a wild, cursing mess.
Anyway, after Jennifer and I would revel in awesomeness of special crayons, I would end up sneaking them one at a time into the pocket of my blue sweatshirt. Jennifer didn’t notice of course because apparently I had a knack for stealing then. I really only took two or three crayons, but to a six year old it’s a pretty big deal to take anything without asking.
Art class had ended and no one had yet noticed the missing crayons. I would constantly check the pockets of my hoodie to make sure that they hadn’t fallen out. When we got back to our classroom I quickly placed the stolen crayons inside my desk. My mistake was not putting them in the back behind all of my papers. If someone were to merely glance at the inside of my desk they would see the stolen crayons. And that’s exactly what happened.
It was Jennifer who discovered my act of thievery. I remember her loudly exclaiming,
“You stole the crayons from Mrs. Letchen’s class!” I was so embarrassed and had no way of denying my crime as my teacher, Ms. Wilde, came over to see what was going on.
Ms. Wilde told me that stealing was wrong, and then demanded that I return the crayons to Mrs. Letchen’s room and apologize for stealing. I didn’t give back the crayons. I walked down the first grade hallway, still ashamed, my cheeks burning from embarrassment. I then noticed the slight crack between the floor and the radiator attached to the cinder block wall. I shoved the crayons under the radiator and then hid in the bathroom so Ms. Wilde would believe that I had gone all the way to the art room and back.
Almost everyday for the rest of first grade I would check to make sure that the crayons remained under the radiator, and I never dared to remove them. The art teacher, Mrs. Letchen retired the next year, and I don’t think she ever learned that I had stolen from her.
Everyone pretty much forgot about the incident the next week. It was first grade so no one remembered much of anything besides the time that we would be let out for recess (11:45). Even Ms. Wilde had probably forgotten. Only I remembered my brief act of thievery, and even then I knew that I would remember the incident for many years to come. And the thing about this specific memory is that I don’t so much regret stealing the crayons, I regret getting caught.
In my last year of elementary school, as a fifth grader, I found myself back in my first grade classroom. The hallway was exactly how I remembered it, and the radiator that once hid my stolen crayons was still there. I checked once to see if my crayons remained in their hiding place, but to my despair they were long gone. They had probably been swept away by one of the janitors years ago.
Being a young adult now, I recognize that stealing is wrong. Of course, taking two crayons without asking doesn’t have as much impact on the world as robbing a bank would, but it’s still a rather dismal thing to do. I mean, one of my fellow students could have created an absolute masterpiece with those crayons if I hadn’t stolen them.