My son was pretty nonchalant coming in the door from school today. He told me about homework – he needs to finish a paper on an biography of Stephen Spielberg, couple of sheets of math problems, and that's it – and then about what happened in math class. "I found a fiver" – like it was no big deal. I asked, "you found a what?" – "A fiver, five bucks, on the floor in math class", and he pulled it out of his pocket to show me his newfound bounty.
Then I burst his bubble.
"Son, you realize that isn't yours."
"Wha-?" – that's a real word for him, "wha" without the "t", pronounced "whuh", rhymes with "duh". His jaw dropped, not grasping the concept.
"That dollar used to be someone else's. Someone has lost five dollars."
"I don't know who lost it."
"I know, but someone did – so it's not yours."
"But how do I find out who lost it? Everyone will want it."
"You need to give it to the teacher – maybe she lost it. Maybe someone has asked her about it already. But it's not yours until you try to find who lost it."
His jaw dropped again. He couldn't get his mind around giving it up being the "right thing". I think he's beginning to see – "imagine if you had lost five dollars, and you'd want someone to try to find you, right?" – and I see that it's hurting him to think that he's now the one "losing" five dollars.