Steal the Plate and Take the Wheel: Why it’s OK to Break Rules

Philosophy: Steal the damn plates. Steal them every time.

I love thrift stores and old things. That’s how my Etsy shop came about. Racks and shelves of things, none of which are the same, each with its own past and story.

 I have to slow down and spend time looking and rummaging. The thrill of the hunt. I get very excited when I find exactly what I want, not knowing when I walk in the door just what that might be, but hopeful there’s a chance at something that fits perfectly, or I haven’t seen in years.

I was hurrying through Goodwill after I dropped off some clothes last week (Tyler wasn’t in a bargain-hunting mood), looking for some Harlan Coban books I hadn’t read yet. Some of my favorite authors, I found by looking for books at thrift stores. “What the heck…” turned into the enormous book collection I have in my back room.

Across from the books are all the wares. There they were, in all their glory. Fiesta salt and pepper shakers. I grabbed them. Serendipity. Salt and pepper shakers aren’t my thing. My best friend collects them. She also collects Fiesta dishes. This collection began when we were about 17.

Chi-Chi’s was a Mexican restaurant by our mall. We were cool. We could drive to the mall by ourselves, so we did; the way seventeen-year-olds do all kinds of things just because they can. We ended up at Chi-Chi’s and Chi-Chi’s used Fiesta dishes.

One or two of said dishes may or may not have ended up in our take-home containers, and so, not only was a collection born, but also an eighteen-year long challenge. Although we’ve been out to eat hundreds of times together since then, the conditions aren’t always right for swiping a small dish or silverware. Quite frankly, a lot of times, we don’t even want what they’re using, but who can resist a Fiesta dish?

Mine was orange. If memory serves, Kelly got yellow. That dish is in my mom’s cupboard to this day. When I use it, I think of the silent look we still give each other when one of us slips a particularly nice ramekin into our Styrofoam box.

Fiestaware…the real deal

It makes me smile. It makes me remember the white lies that come with being 17 and how we just tried to have fun without hurting anyone. That was the kind of fun that sticks. Those memories are solid.

Those memories, I recall in the split second before I stop Jack from applying stickers to his window in the car or before I punish Elise for carving her name into the back of her bedroom door. I also committed sins that didn’t hurt anyone as a kid. I still do. It’s part of claiming space in the world, in a way.

Sometimes I realize I’m saying no to the kids more than yes. It’s my standard response to almost any question they ask because the question is already predetermined in my mind to be some outrageous request. That’s not fair to them.

Even though I despise slime with every fiber of my being, I begrudgingly give in and let them make it. For some reason, Jack can’t find anything unless he dumps every toy out of every bin in his room. He asks first and my answer was always no, but now I let him – on the condition he picks it up. It’s his choice, then, and sometimes that makes him change his mind.

(To be sure, some requests definitely are outrageous. Jack insisted for awhile on going "RIGHT NOW" to go get a "REAL" dirt bike. That was a great big "NO". )

The memories of the stolen plates are what I think of when I give in and let the kids be kids. The memories of the stolen plates are what give me ideas to do things every once in awhile that surprise them and even me; things that are just the right amount of reckless.

My own dad once took me out to the cemetery in his truck. I was about 13. He didn’t tell me where we were going and I was very confused. He got out, told me to switch sides and he let me drive all by myself for awhile. I will never forget that. I owe those same memories to my kids. Out-of-the-blue adventures that even they, in their wildest dreams, wouldn’t think to ask about.

The roads of Maple Grove

Is it wrong to drive at 13 and take dishes? Probably. A felony? Nope. These stolen souvenirs of the last years of my childhood are worth every Hail Mary and day in jail.

If I had that magical chance to go back in time and give myself advice with 20/20, I’d still tell me to steal the damn plates. Steal them every time.

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