The original plan was for the Zadge to take Lizzie shopping for some new clothes. But the Zadge decided that she needed to have a little heart-to-heart with little Lizzie instead over some Chipotle tacos.
See, when the Zadge went to pick up Lizzie today, Lizzie’s grandmother, aunt and 13-year old brother were sitting solemnly on the couch. Lizzie’s grandmother said, “Lizzie has something she needs to tell you.”
The Zadge’s gut seized.
Lizzie lowered her beautiful, almond-shaped eyes for a second, then looked up at the Zadge. ”I stole and the police came.”
Yes, earlier this week, eight-year old Lizzie was caught stealing two burritos and a drink from her local 7-11.
The Zadge gently questioned Lizzie about the details, while her family quietly sat by.
Lizzie was at the public pool across from her house when one of the lifeguards, a 15-year old ‘ho bag skank of a girl (the Zadge’s words not Lizzie’s!) told Lizzie to walk to the 7-11 two blocks away (across a HIGHWAY, mind you) and get her two burritos and a drink. Lizzie told her that she only had the $5 her grandmother had given her for her own nachos and drink. The Ho Bag Skank then told her to steal it, gave her a handwritten list of what to steal and gave Lizzie her purse in which to hide the loot. And then, according to Lizzie, the Ho Bag Skank threatened to kill her if she didn’t do it (this is the one part of the story that the Zadge has some doubt about).
So little Lizzie walked the two blocks by herself to the 7-11, took the burritos and drink into the bathroom and stuck them in the Ho Bag Skank’s purse, walked out and then went to the counter to pay for her own nachos and drink. Which is where she opened the purse to take out her money to pay and the clerk saw the burritos. And called the police.
And the police took Lizzie back to the pool and held her there while they interviewed the Ho Bag Skank, who denied everything and said that it was Lizzie’s idea and that Lizzie wrote the list of items to steal (even though Lizzie doesn’t know how to spell “burritos”). And then the police called Lizzie’s grandmother at work and made her come home. (Yes, Lizzie was alone at the pool under the supervision of her 13-year old brother Levi since her grandmother has to work to support them and her two god damned drug addict parents are in effing jail. Levi was arrested last month for climbing the fence into the pool with some young hooligans at 10 p.m.)
After Lizzie relayed what happened, everyone looked solemnly at the Zadge. The Zadge could tell that Lizzie’s grandmother was counting on her to be the “leader” of the family and deliver the appropriate response.
The Zadge took a deep breath. And she fought back tears.
Then she told the family that her heart ached for them and their situation. And she tried to say the right things and they all seemed to listen to her. She talked to them about how hard it is to be a kid without parents and structure and discipline and money. And how awful it is to be in prison and how important it was to do the right thing and study hard and avoid the bad kids. And how she would help them anyway she could.
And Lizzie promised she would never do anything bad again. And Levi said he understood. And the Zadge told the family she would take them to the Denver Housing Department next week and fight for them to get some assistance and a bigger place in a better neighborhood. And then the Zadge tried to put on a good face and said she would take Lizzie out for lunch, but wouldn’t buy her any new clothes because bad behavior means you don’t get rewarded with new stuff.
And when they got in the car, Lizzie asked the Zadge, “Why can’t I come live with you for awhile and give my grandmother a break?”
“Because it’s only me, and I have to work, and I don’t have anyone to watch you when I’m not there.”
And the Zadge’s heart cracked a little bit right then.
And she promises that she will stop beginning every sentence with “and” and will get back to her wise-cracking self soon, but right now her heart hurts too much.