Today Elli brought a box of Girl Guide cookies to school to sell to a teacher. Unfortunately things didn't go quite as planned, because the box of cookies mysteriously vanished out of her backpack and she had no idea where it had gone. When I heard about this I was pretty sure someone stole them, because her dropping a large and noisy object out of her pack and not noticing is unlikely. The teachers got involved and eventually they discovered that a kid in her class had acquired them and had already opened the box and eaten some. The story he gave was that he 'found' them and then decided to eat them and share with the class instead of trying to return them to their owner. Eventually it was decided that he would bring the money to pay for them on Monday.
It was a tricky sort of situation to discuss with Elli. I want to walk the line between insisting that obviously the kid stole them and outright believing his story because we should believe people. For one, when someone claims to have 'found' something they bloody well knew wasn't theirs and then just acts as though they own it until they are caught red handed I am not willing to give any story much credence. This isn't a four year old with no concept of personal property - ten year olds know that stuff you find belongs to someone.
I wanted to get across the idea that the most likely explanation is that the kid in question stole the cookies from her backpack, but also let her know that there is a big difference between being pretty sure someone did something and having actual proof to do something about it. We can be 80% sure that the cookies were stolen, not found, and since we are stuck needing to think something about the situation that is the most reasonable thought to have. But that doesn't mean we suddenly need to get all confrontational and demanding about it, because in the end all we have is 'probably' and 'likely' and 'it sure seems as though' and none of those three are proof of anything.
It is hard to say if I got the concept across well. She was frustrated by the whole incident, but seemed satisfied enough with the conclusion. Of course it may become a whole different thing entirely if the kid doesn't actually bring the money to class, but we can tackle that when and if it happens.
That willingness to take a step back and acknowledge the possibility of error is a thing I really want her to have. It is critical in life to both be able to make quick decisions that are usually right but to also have the capacity to realize when you are in fact making the best guess instead of having total certainty. Understanding the difference between a proven thing and a best guess is something I think the world could use a lot more of, particularly in the area of politics.
Now teaching her about politics, *that* is going to be fun.