Lauren Lodder knew her lipsticks had gone missing from the bathroom.

But it wasn’t until she was sitting in the school pick-up line that she realized quite a few things had disappeared from their house.

As Lodder, who blogs at Mommy Owl, wrote on Facebook that for the last several weeks her 4-year-old had been taking small items (like toys and make-up) to school:

I didn’t notice at first — though I did think it curious I no longer had a single lipstick in my bathroom.

The moment of truth came when Lodder was sitting in the car at school, waiting for her daughter. It seemed that a few of the girls in her daughter’s school were sporting some very familiar accessories:

I noticed a little girl wearing the same bejeweled, rainbow bow that we have. (Or should I say, “Had”?)

Hmmm, I thought. Could be a coincidence.

And then another little girl walked by. This one was wearing a silver necklace with my daughters’ initials engraved on the front.

Definitely not a coincidence.

When her daughter emerged, Lodder asked why a school friend was wearing “my necklace.” Her daughter’s response was disarmingly innocent:

4-year-old: *blushes* “Oh… uh… I gived it to her.”

Me: “Why?”

4: “Because, mom, she didn’t have a necklace.”

Me: “What else have you given away?”

4: “Your lipsticks and eye shadows, daddy’s nail-clippers, and some of my treasures. Because they didn’t have any!”

And with that, Lodder was caught in a classic parent conundrum. Her daughter shouldn’t give things away (especially used nail clippers) without permission. But the generous impulse touched Lodder.

She told Dearly that she waited until she could be alone with her daughter to discuss it:

“She knew she shouldn’t have been stealing, even if it was for a good cause, so she was already visibly embarrassed and apologetic. She is a sensitive kid and feels guilt intensely. I explained I was very proud of her for thinking of others. I also asked if she was giving away her toys because she wanted the kids to play with her. She said that was absolutely not the case.”

This meant the mom had to find the balance between encouraging her daughter to think of others and making it clear she couldn’t just walk off with other people’s things. She told Dearly:

“I told her that she is allowed to give her toys to her friends, but that she needs to ask before giving away anyone else’s possessions.”

For Lodder, it was one of those motherhood moments that leaves you both “laughing and crying.” Despite having to search her preschooler for stolen goods, she was touched that her daughter stepped up to help when someone else was in need of something. (Even if that something was a hair bow.)

Lodder wrote that seeing someone give without thought of return or any hesitation was “simple and beautiful.” And in its own, innocent way, her daughter’s actions were inspiring. As Lodder wrote on Facebook:

“I think there are a lot of things adults could do better if we just let our kids lead us every now and then.”

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