The Big Heist
I have told this story only a handful of times. One to a client who was a grandmother, another client recently who has three young children, and one other client over the years. It was about twelve years ago. Our daughters were about five and a half and three and a half at the time. I have to say it was one of our roughest years, stress was at an all time high. However, thank God we’ve been there before. Norm and I, that is. I say this laughingly. Yet then, I realize it was a rough year. It’s funny how we nearly forget the most horrid things at times. And then remember the silly ones such as the one I’ll write about here.
It was a cloudy Saturday afternoon in early spring. Dampness hung in the air. The cloud coverage appeared heavy, with dark patches held in its nearly bright glow for the day. Our two young daughters and I pulled into the parking lot where our favorite toy store lay in wait for our arrival. Even I get excited when I get to buy gifts for people. But especially toys and games for kids. I know why. I didn’t have much as a kid. Now, I nearly do everything to make an excuse to go into a toy store and buy something. It’s such a treat.
Crazy enough, after Norm and I bought our current home in 1998, I had my brother his wife and stepson over just before Christmas. I got my brother the Aurora Race Car set he and I could only dream of having, when we were kids. His stepson was sixteen, I believe at the time. My brother was thirty-eight. Basically, my sister-in-law really hated me, because my brother and stepson would not come down from playing with the race car set they’d built for hours on end for weeks after they’d gotten our present. I’m such a child. Sorry, I digressed. Back to that cloudy Saturday afternoon.
So, the three of us got out of our minivan and entered our favorite toy store. We were to buy a couple of gifts for a couple birthday parties the kids were invited to. After that, I promised the two of them I’d get them something medium and something very small, that’s in price I mean. Medium is eight dollars or less and small is under two dollars. And that two dollar or less was for each child. Medium the two already picked out something they could agree on to share. The small item our oldest tried to pressure me, as children do for a two-fer. Didn’t work. Our little one wanted to play in the store more. Which was fine with our oldest. It was quiet that afternoon. The two ladies behind the counter were busy wrapping the gifts for us, as well other items they were preparing for a party.
Finally, time had passed and I called our daughters over to the counter. Our youngest was reluctant. I told our oldest, “Please get your sister.” We had to get a move on and pay for the little item she wanted for herself. Our oldest did so. She went around the corner, where you couldn’t see the two of them clearly. “Young ladies. I would suggest not holding up the cashier now, please.” At last, our youngest poked her head from around the corner smiling. Our oldest with half a smile said, “Mom something broke.” Our littlest backed it up with, “It was an accident.” Expressing accident with really HUGE EYES and a stunned look on her face.
I responded, “Well, bring the piece here and let us adults look at it.” Our youngest kept repeating with HUGE EYES, “It was an accident.” I thought, ‘hmmmm. That’s odd. I asked, “What broke?” Our Oldest answered, “The Chicken.” I replied, “Ohhhhh The Chicken.” I continued, “You mean the Chicken I told you ‘no’, because it was over the limit, but you wanted it anyway. The Chicken.” I turned and looked at the cashier. I gave her the eye like ‘I’m paying for it. But these girls are not having it’, look. Cashier didn’t read me, too young I guessed.
Finally, The Chicken was brought out. Oh, and just a little note… Little girls do like to dissect things just like little boys do. So, The Chicken had liquid in it. And the curiosity of our youngest abounded. As well, both our daughters were voted by teachers in their last day of kindergarten as ‘Most Inquisitive’.
So, now presenting The Chicken. Well, it looked like The Chicken broke water. However, she didn’t exactly birth another Chicken as one would have thought. No, just fluid, which was not really messy, just broken for three dollars and ninety-nine cents, not including tax.
Upon inquiring in the store. The two cashiers believed it was by accident. They thought I did too. As well, I intentionally refrained from the scary face look my husband has pointed out to me that I can easily attain in a split second. After paying for everything, accept The Chicken, we parted.
As we got closer to the car with our packages. Kids now thinking they got away with the Almost ‘Big Heist’. They got into our minivan and as I helped them buckle up, I began. “So, The Chicken broke, huh?” Our little one looked at me, “By accident.” The HUGE EYES, a giveaway, going away. Our oldest raised a brow. I looked at our oldest and said, “It’s so nice that you love your sister that much, that you’re willing to go down the river for her.” She looked at me. I remarked, “Down the river? Oh, you don’t know what’s down the river. That’s jail honey. Ahhh.” I shrugged with not a care in the world. The two looked at me. I continued, “So, I think you’ll get five years for being your sister’s accomplice in The Big Heist. And you, since you did the main job. Well we’re talking….hmmmm like eight years, almost in time for high school. It’s really such a shame. Although I do love you two for sticking together.” Stunned looks on their faces.
I then unbuckled their belts and said, “You know the right thing to do is to confess. So, I’ll give you two a chance right here right now. So, spill it. So, no one goes down the river.” They began in meek refrain. They thought that was it. I commented, “No. Now we go into the store. Tell the truth to the cashiers and pay the bill.” The three of us out of the car, re-entered the store. Cashiers were all alone. Us pretty lucky, I think. They wondered why we were back in. I remarked, “These two have something to confess.” And so, they did. The Big Heist, had been thwarted. I paid the bill for The Chicken. The cashiers appeared stunned. I thanked them. We left. We got into our minivan, buckled up and I began to drive.
You know I always get good ideas when I drive. And they get worse, sometimes. It’s a Mom thing, I guess. Halfway home we come to a red light. I look in the rearview mirror at our two daughters. Then I remark, “Oh, just so you know. You’ll have to tell Daddy when we get home, because remember you owe me your allowance. You for three weeks and you for three months.” I think a second before the light changes. “Oh boy, I just realized. Wow. I’m so glad I’m me. Because you see, I already talked to God about this. But that’s the next guy you’re going to have to talk to. ‘Cause, Whoa… I don’t want to know that conversation.” I sigh and smile in the rearview mirror with an exaggerated sense of relief. “Yep, God. I did my job. I’m good. You two. Uh oh. Okay, I’m happy now.”
Basically, I had to refrain from laughing. I knew I’d laid it on thick. But it did work. The next week, I had to go back to the toy store for another birthday gift on a weekday when I was in between clients and children were in their respective pre-K’s. The same two cashiers were there. The younger one remarked, “I know you.” I replied, “So, sorry for what happened the other week.” She replied, “You know I’ve never seen a parent in this town take responsibility like you did.” I was stunned, “Really?” She added, “Oh yeah, no parent I’ve known here would’ve done what you did. Thank you.” I thought a second, “Wow. That’s sad.” I told the two cashiers what I said to our daughters on the drive home. They laughed. I remarked, “I think they got the message.” ---Jody-Lynn Reicher