My iPod touch and phone were stolen from my purse during a craft group tonight. I know who did it - he isn't one of my regular kids - but there's nothing that can be done as no one actually saw him do it, according to the police. I won't be getting either of them back as he likely fenced it for drugs to one of the scumbags who hang around the park near the library. He's a kid whom I tried to help a few years ago, and I guess I didn't do much good given where he is in life right now.
It's not about the material items, although I really liked my iPod and had a lot of information on it. It's the betrayal. I spend a lot of time trying to make the library meeting room a safe place for everyone, and it turns out it wasn't a safe place for me. I don't want to turn our groups into a fortress, with everyone guarding their MP3 players and cell phones and purses and backpacks, but I don't want anyone else to feel this way.
I'm just so sad right now.
An update: It's 2:45 AM and I'm wide awake thinking about all the stuff I should have done and all the stuff I have to do tomorrow. I wish I could hold out hope that I will get my things back, but I won't. He's a known drug addict, and my items were probably sold for $10 by the time I realized they were gone.
Tomorrow should be fun as I get to spend the day trying to figure out what appointments I have for the next few weeks for clients whose phone numbers were stored on my phone, not in my head. Then I get to visit the mobile phone store and try to get a new one (and just about every conversation I have with Rogers mobile ends with me threatening to go to another company, so you know that will be fun). All of this through a haze of exhaustion that comes with getting - if I'm lucky - three hours' sleep.
I worked in the most poverty ridden areas of Vancouver as a welfare worker. I saw some horrible things as a child protection social worker. But it wasn't until I came to my nice little town and started teaching craft groups that people felt it was okay to steal from me. This is the second time this has happened - the first was money, now possessions. I've worked with people who have had nothing - I mean, living in a cardboard box, lining up at the soup kitchen, wearing rags on her feet nothing - and they didn't steal from me.
I'm still sad. Wow. I don't think thieves realize the impact of what they've done. It's not the items; it's the lack of trust, the idea that it's okay to go into my purse (or my car, in the past) and just take what they want, violating my sense of safety, of what's mine and what's yours and what we can share. I know this will have repercussions and I really don't want it to be that way. But I don't know how it can't. My heart is so broken right now.
Another update from Saturday: Just home from video game club - that was great fun! We've figured out a system...We have a corner where everyone can put their valuables and only the adults (and trusted teen leaders) are allowed to enter that corner. We've told the kids that they are not only allowed but encouraged to ask people about possibly suspicious behaviour to make sure it's a safe place for everyone.
I do think everything happens for a reason - I'm not sure what that might be right now, but I'm open to it. It did take a lot of my energy today to remind the kids that beating the thief up isn't the best use of our energies, and besides, it'll cause more problems than it's worth! We talked a lot about it today, and I am pleased that the idea of the room being a safe place hasn't been severely compromised, so that's positive.
And I bought myself an iPhone 4. It won't replace what was lost - the emotional bit - but I do feel better than I have something I can use as a phone and datebook for Monday morning.
Thanks for everyone who has shared their thoughts and sent me kind words!