Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I found $2000 today!

Freelance work for a language edtech start-up company, and nannying, pay my rent these days. There's not too much money left over at the end of each month. But what is left over at the end of each day, with my current living arrangements, is mental energy and space to recoup. The flexibility is a most welcome gift for this season of my life. In any case, though, I don't have enough left over to replace my laptop, someone else's iPhone, and my wallet...

Today was Livy's mom's birthday. I picked her up from school as usual, but she wanted to go to Target to get Kit-Kats for her mother. I was happy to take her. I also bought some study fuel for the man-friend's grueling CFA prep. Somehow, he runs on the worst calories. Gummies, gushers, sour-filled (Play-Doh smelling) Twizzlers, Red Bull, sugary drinks...

One of the aisles was so crowded, I left our cart (with Livy's bookbag, and mine which contained an inactive iPhone, my MacBook Air, and my wallet) just outside the aisle and instructed Livy to keep an eye on the shopping cart. I only lost visual for 30 seconds or less. I heard Livy, my 7-year-old nanny charge, calling out "Miss Esther?" and circling the aisles around me; she had not stayed put. She was whimpering. "I lost our cart..."

Someone had swiped it. I gave her a hug. Can't lose it now, I thought, if you're going to ask her not to worry and to be brave. So I decided to be very calm. If I did not have a child with me, I might have behaved as though my wallet and laptop were the most important things in life... shall be kept safe through childrearing... rang in my mind. You're safe, I'm safe, we didn't lose each other. But your stuff can't be replaced, Miss Esther. I paused and considered agreeing with her. It can. Don't worry. You're okay, I'm okay; that can't be replaced. We walked around and searched. We asked employees, who paged security and the store supervisor. Livy's panic mounted and she was crying now. She did not even know what was in my bag, the value. All my coursework, and graduate school apps, and freelance work. Hey baby. We can't have your vision blurred by tears okay? We need your eyes super sharp so we can scout out our cart! We're on a treasure hunt! We're gonna catch the crooks? she asked. Maybe.

We filed a police report. Grand larceny, they called it, based on the value of the contents of my bag. Yo it's Park Slope, the officer said. There's some crazy dopes here. People just don't care. They'll mess you up, take other people's things. The police were kind, attentive, detailed, helpful. I introduced Livy to Officer Butler. This is Livy. She's 7. She's very sad, and worried. But I told her that the police's job is to help and protect us... We looked on the security tapes. During this hour that we were with the police I also called to cancel my credit cards. And asked Livy to pray. It felt like that time at SITP with Erin. We thanked Papa God for never losing sight of us, for never losing us (like we lose sight of shopping carts and backpacks). His eye is on the sparrow. He is in control. Help us not to worry. You can help us find our stuff because you love us, she said. But even if we don't get our stuff back... I pressed, I wanted her to say it aloud, and fall back on what she said–that the Spirit, water, and blood are our witness, not our laptops, money, and drivers licenses. The truth she had learned. The reasons to trust. Of course I felt like this request that she pray could disillusion her. Papa God, You love her more than I do. Protect her faith. Instruct us in Your way.

Do you think the thieves who stole your homework are going to do it for you? I asked her. The policeman asked Livy if her teacher would believe, "I couldn't do my homework yesterday because it got stolen!" After we left the police, I asked if she wanted to go straight home or if her legs could handle walking around the store with me one more time. She said, well alright, even though we're not going to find it. Why would they still be in the store? She pinched her fingers together to show me how slim our chance of finding it was. Lord, show her. Show me. But Livy, I said. I know. If they took our things, they probably left the store right away. But faith is that stuff that holds you on when hope is teeny, and then hope grows. Do you trust me? I told her what we were looking for. Not just shopping carts, but someone wearing or holding or bookbags, perhaps. Or our bookbags stuffed in a stroller or large bag. We even wandered down the backpack and luggage aisle. And around the perimeter of the store. There really wasn't any chance of recovering our stolen goods. The time we could have spent looking, with the only 4 eyes on the premises that knew exactly what to look for, we were asking for higher authorities to help.

But we did. Find our backpacks. The zippers were undone and our bags had obviously been rummaged through. But nothing was missing. It's a miracle! Livy said. Indeed it was. Aw, now I have to do my homework.