I became a larcenist sometime during my second year. While I don’t remember what success tasted like at the time, I clearly recall planning the job and caching the booty for later retrieval. It was likely the adrenaline rush of doing something so wrong for a payoff that was so right which burned those memories into my brain, and I relish them to this day like a veritable criminal…
She put them on the stove to cool and then went to her room to put on the white dress and shoes she wore for the night shift. I watched her from behind the plastic lemon trees my father bought to decorate his bachelor pad in Hawaii. I had to act fast before she bustled back into the room, but what to do first?
I needed to stash the goods temporarily, wait until the heat cooled off, and then retrieve them later when they could be enjoyed without fear of reprisal. Now where had I seen something large enough to hide the goods?
Right; that box! But it was full of little bags. Where to put them so they wouldn’t give me away?
I know! In the jar that was for looking and not for touching! Been hiding canned cat food labels in there for weeks and they had not caught on yet. Ok, that done, the first jewel ensconced inside the box and in my hot little hands. Where to stash it? That’s it!
Now for number two. Ooh! They would never look for it there…
At this point, the clear memories fade, but I know what happened next: I got caught blue handed.
My mother told my father about the two blueberry pies cooling on the stove as they passed, having agreed to work opposing shifts so that one would be free to take care of me in their off hours. My father soon realized that both pies were missing—and so was I. Eventually he found me in the bottom of the bathroom linen closet, along with one of the still warm pies, unable to wait for ‘later’ and absolutely covered in my shame. Thankfully, he was too amused to discipline me for the theft.
About a month later, a smell developed in my bedroom. The smell’s source was soon discovered, hidden under the big girl bed: a Lipton tea box containing the remnants of the second pie. (They didn’t find the hidden tea bags for another two years.)
Because of this story—and others like it—my father has told me that I don’t want my 19-month-old daughter to be as creative as I was, and I totally agree with him. I dream of much bigger things for her. Like maybe she’ll steal five pies. Or even ten. The point is, if she finds something in my kitchen that makes her mouth water, I can’t begin to express how proud I will be if she employs a little creative problem solving to make the goods hers.
And yes, I do know what I’m asking for and I say to The Universe: Bring It.