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The robe

The flowing robe was aqua blue, trimmed in white lace. White buttons held it closed as I posed for a photo. It was my fourth birthday, and I loved my gift.

I used my blue robe more for playing dress-up than for warmth. When friends from houses across and down the street came over to play, I shared all my other dress up clothes—but never the blue robe. I do not remember who I pretended to be. Was I Marcia Brady? Barbie? Annette from the Mickey Mouse Club re-runs on channel 2? My aunt Anna? They were the pretty girls in my early-70s preschooler eyes.

One day, my robe was gone. I looked all over my room. Under my bed, in my closet, in my drawers, down in the basement. It vanished, and I was heartbroken.

I can’t discern how much time passed between my sad discovery and the betrayal. It could have been the next day, it could have been a month later.

Sometime after my robe went missing, I played at a neighborhood girl’s house. As we pawed through the toys in her closet, I caught a glimpse of blue fabric in a wooden hinged box. I pulled the fabric out. It was my robe.

I was very surprised and too young to realize a crime had been committed. I was just happy to see it again. The girl said it was hers. I said no, it was mine—I could tell. It was worn and dirty in familiar spots. I told her I was going to tell her mom. She grabbed the robe and held it tight in her arms.

I found her mother in the kitchen.

“She has my robe!” I told her.

“No, she doesn’t.”

“I saw my robe in her room!”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” She called her daughter into the kitchen.

The girl said she didn’t have my robe.

The mother turned to me, “See, she doesn’t have your robe. You should probably go home now.”

So I did.

I remember walking across the street, by myself, contemplating how the mother lied to me and how that was very, very strange. Grown-ups don’t lie. Grown-ups like when things are fair. Why didn’t she tell her daughter to give my robe back to me?

Here I am, more than 30 years later, thinking about that robe and that girl and that mother. It was never found.

It was lost, twice.

13 comments to The robe

  • Oh Mopsy, I have a similar tale. I know just how you feel. For me it was a common friend’s pom-pom that had been torn to shreds and the neighbor girl who did it blamed me. I was going to take heat for it from my parents and the girl who owned the pom-pom and the guilty mother knew this and stood by her daughter, making her swear on the holy bible and calling me a liar. Luckily, another neighbor lady came and carried me home crying in her arms and explained all she saw to my parents. Still, I never got over that mother’s defense of her lying daughter. It has a way of staying with you, doesn’t it?

    Suzanne Temple’s last blog post..Number Six

  • Some parents will cover and lie for their children even when their children are adults. I still find this shocking, and surprisingly common. (Then again, my husband is in law enforcement, which may color my perception a bit.)

    A similar thing happened to me when I was about ten. My prized possession was a “bug box”–one of those adorable little prisons for bugs unfortunate enough to be caught for a period of observation. This particular bug box was one I had painted and assembled myself.

    And the little girl–someone who had been a casual friend–was ruthless about denying she had it and avoiding me until she and her family moved. I never did get it back.

  • That is sick. While you want to believe the best about your kids, it’s not probably good to just take their word at the tender age of 4; they are sinful, after all…

    Heidi’s last blog post..This Photo Needs a Caption

  • Oh, this is so sad!


    Adventures In Babywearing’s last blog post..If I Can Make It Here, I Can Make It Anywhere

  • Christine

    Mine is weird and sad at the same time. Every Christmas my grandmother gave me a box of personalized pencils with my first and last name on them. I loved those pencils. One day I see a friend with my pencil and I reached over to get it and she screams that it is HER pencil. I told her it was mine and she screamed and yelled and I finally told her that next time she stole something it shouldn’t be something with the person’s name printed on it!

    Sorry about your robe.

  • Sister of Mopsy

    I remember your robe, mainly from pictures. I know how you loved it so. It was so pretty. You should post that picture of you at your birthday party when you are wearing it… do you have that one? Maybe mom has it.

    I remember once a friend came over to play and later in the day I was walking her home and she had in her hand one my slide top lipgloss tins that I got for my birthday. I got a three pack of grape, cherry, and strawberry and she had the strawberry. I told her that it was mine and she said it was hers and stuffed it in her pocket and ran home. I remember just standing there thinking, “how could you?”. I remember never wanting to play with her again and avoided her as much as possible. I even took it as far as faking sick so I didn’t have to attend her birthday party… I felt so bad, and that was just lip gloss. I can only image how you felt about that robe.

    Sorry sis.

  • amy

    Truly that is one of the saddest and creepiest stories. Do you remember why you didn’t tell your mom?

    Whenever Josie wants to take a toy to preschool I worry for her — will it get broken/will it be “lost’? We try to send non-favorite/already broken down toys on share day. We sent a book once with her, it came back ripped and torn, no apologies or explanation was offered by the school. Other items have never returned. I wonder if Josie feels they are gone, sees other kids carrying them around. She never talks about it.

  • Well that is just awful. I am sure if I remembered hard enough, a similiar such story would come to mind. Makes me want to forbid the girls from playing with anyone besides each other. But yes, they too will steal from each other and lie about it, won’t they?

    Sad state of affairs.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy’s last blog post..Another Way – Shampoo Free

  • How in the world did she get your robe?

    My dad would have lied like that and I am ashamed of him for it. He raised 4 children to believe that lying and stealing are O.K. as long as it gets you what you want or need. He hasn’t changed in 40 years and that is why I raise his grandchildren several states away from him.

    Ladiesofthehouse’s last blog post..IRONMAN

  • Gretchen

    Ladiesofthehouse—the robe was chiffon, somewhat sheer. It wasn’t a bulky terrycloth or anything. I can’t imagine a 4yo getting a big robe out of a house unnoticed, but I can picture this girl getting my robe out, stuffed in her coat or something.

    I’m sorry to hear your father condoned actions like that. You are wise to stay away and protect your children from that influence.

  • edj

    I wish that parents like that could see the damage they are doing to their children! I hope you can post that picture your sister mentioned.
    I’ve had similar experiences with my own children’s things being stolen and then lied about, but in a different culture where lying and stealing are more acceptable.

    edj’s last blog post..What We Do with our Time

  • This brings back memories of experiences we had growing up. My grandmother used to send us special items, many that she hand made. We had similar experiences with neighbor kids stealing precious gifts. One instance in particular my mom dealt with since my sister was only 5. The other mom denied it and claimed the article was hand made by her daughter’s grandmother. Very sad.

    Joanne’s last blog post..Reach Out To Touch Someone

  • Oh my goodness, I could just cry, that is so sad! I will never understand why some parents never check up on things…
    I have even been to a play date where I the parent have seen a child do something and told the mother and had a parent tell me oh my little boy doesn’t bite or hit when another child is standing there with teeth marks.
    So Sorry about your robe. Maybe your little ones could get you a pretty blue robe of night gown for mothers day.

    Happy Mommy’s last blog post..$15.94

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