She'll Break Your Heart
I'm going to tell you about a girl.
She's probably no different than many other American girls her age.
I'll call her Bailee, it's not her name, but it's close enough.
I work with kids, teens. I've spent the last 5 1/2 years serving lunch to hundreds of them, and I currently have one living in my house.
I guess I thought I knew what teenaged girls were like, but Bailee isn't like the kids I've known.
Bailee is the type of girl you see on daytime TV talkshows, and ratings sweeps News magazine shows.
Bailee works with me at my retail job.
Bailee is 16 ( though several times she's tried to tell me she is nearly 18, usually when I inform her that a boy is too old for her) , when I first met her last summer she was living with her grandmother, and told me she was "home schooled" . From what I can gather the child is getting very little "school" in her life education.
The "story" goes that her Mother is a complete fuck up, and drugged out left Bailee with the grandmother to raise. Of course the story changes depending on who Bailee is telling it to.
She is tiny thin, about 5'3" , over make-upped in a teenaged way. Dark haired, with the cutest gap toothed smile you ever saw, and dimpled. Pretty.
Bailee is wild, that much is for sure, though she tries to be sweet and play " little girl" to me. I know better.
She pretends she is street smart, the bravado a cover for the empty places.
But she isn't a smart wild girl, she is quite naive, and so vunerable that you can smell it all over her.
She thinks she is in charge, tough, but is so easily manipulated I fear for her. ( as do most of the adults she works with.)
Bailee knows that my daughter is close to her age, just 2 years younger, and she asks me about my daughter alot.
I think at first she was worried about my daughter being home alone when I was at work, because she asked what my daughter was doing at night, and if she could cook, what was she eating, would she be awake when I got home.
Then one day she said , " Are you married?"
I told her I was.
" So your kid's Dad is there?"
" Yes, she's home for about an hour then he gets home."
" So she has a Dad ?"
It seemed that it had never occurred to Bailee that a kid would live with both parents.
One day she says to me, eyes twinkling
" If you were my Mom, I'd be such a Momma's girl"
I wanted to cry.
She started going to a continuation high school, and when I asked her how it was going she told me she got a 90 on a Chemistry exam. I knew she was lying, I could see it in her eyes. She needed praise so badly, I told her I was proud of her, and that she should be proud of herself. I told her that getting her Dipolma was so important, the most important thing for her future.
The boys, so many boys.
Bailee never a met a boy that wasn't "hot".
There are drug dealers who wait in the parking lot , talking on their cell phones, waiting for her to get off work. There are boys who follow her around the store while she works, and each new guy hired to work in the warehouse is fair game. She always has a new boyfriend.
" Did you see the new guy? He's HOT!"
" Bailee , he is too old for you."
" He's 19."
" Yep, too old for you, concentrate on your studies."
" You're old, Woman!"
" Yes, I am. He's too old for you."
I know she does drugs, I 've heard her making deals on a cell phone in the breakroom, I've seen who picks her up, I can spot a dealer, I lived with one back in the 80's.
I know she used to score pot for a gal who used to work there. I've seen her high.
I'm old, I'm not stupid.
" I don't do drugs."
" Aw Bailee, I know better than that."
" No really, none of my friend's do drugs either."
" I don't believe that."
" You don't?"
" Does your daughter do drugs?"
" No. She is much younger than you."
" Only 2 years."
" Yes, but she is younger emotionally, not like you. She doesn't do drugs."
" I don't do drugs."
" You do what you do , Bailee. I'm not stupid, but I'm not judging you either."
" Hey Bailee, throw away those cigs in your purse, okay?"
" You looked in my purse?!"
"No, it was on the table in the breakroom, it was open, the pack was right there on top. Throw them away."
" You smoke"
" Yes, but I wish I'd quit back when I was your age. "
" What if your daughter smoked?"
" She hates cigarettes, but I'd make her quit."
"You would? You'd make her?
" Yes, I would."
Last month her mom came back. The details are sketchy, but Mom wasn't back for long before she kicked Bailee out of the house.
" What if your daughter wanted to have sex?"
" I think she'd talk to me first, I hope she would."
" You'd talk to her about sex?"
" Sure, we talk about that stuff now, before."
" What if she wanted Birth control?"
" Well, Bailee, we'd talk about it, and I'd get her Birth Control if she needed it."
" You would?"
" Sure, if she needed it. Have you told your Mom that you need BC?"
" No way! She'd never, she'd freak!"
" Get yourself some condoms , Bailee. Use them, always."
" Okay, I will"
" Seriously, always."
" Okay, Woman! Geeeeze!"
( She never calls me by my name, she always calls me 'Woman')
I wanted to tell her to go home.
I wanted to tell her that her Mom would take her back, but I wasn't sure she would. Bailee stayed with friends and various guys for a couple weeks. I overheard her tell someone that she blew a guy for a place to stay for the night.
One night as she left work I was out taking a smoke break with one of the managers ( my favorite, a really nice guy).
He says to me, " There goes a really messed up kid."
" I worry about her, you know she is only 2 years older than my daughter?"
" She is years older than your daughter. Do you know that her grandmother takes her whole check?"
" What? Her paycheck? Seriously?"
" Bailee can't even afford to buy herself a Coke at work. She has no ID, so her grandmother cashes her paycheck for her , and takes it all."
" What about her Mom?"
" I don't know, I heard she came back and booted Bailee out of the house."
" That's what I heard too. "
"She's started to take her job really seriously, she is working hard, I hate that someone takes her paycheck. I told her to pay her grandmother gas money off the top, and the rest save."
" She breaks my heart" , I say.
" I know, me too. " , He says.
Bailee has a new boyfriend.
They don't last long, there is always a new boy.
Friday night she says to me,
" You should see my new Boyfriend, He's HOT!"
" How new?" I say.
" What do you mean?"
" How new is he?"
" 2 or 3 days."
" Don't have sex with him yet, Bailee."
" Woman! I already did! Why not?"
"You should wait, make them wait."
" I had sex with him the first date."
" I did that once."
" No WAY! You? On the fist date?"
" Yes, but just once, and I married him, we've been together ever since. I don't reccommend it, but I was 27 years old, not 16."
" So you are still with that guy?"
" Yep, but I dated alot of guys before him, just don't give it up right away. Okay? You have more to offer than that."
" Woman, this guy is HOT!"
" Bailee, they are all Hot, make them wait a little while , okay? You are worth the wait."
" Woman, you don't get it, he's HOT!"
Oh yea I do. I get it. You make me want to cry Bailee. I get it all too well.
One day she was mad that she didn't get the hours she wanted, she threatened to quit.
That worried me. Because as long as she shows up to work, we know she is alright.
I can't fix her, I can't take her in, I can't smooth the waves of her life.
I see her.
I see her jump around and her every moment says " Look at me! Notice me! Love me! Please!"
I try to pat her on the back whenever I can, I look for appropriate moments to 'hug' her ( It's awkward, because it's not that type of job setting, but I've never met anyone who needs a hug more than Bailee.)
So the new boy at work comes to me Saturday night, ( last night) he is 16, he is emotionally wiser than his years, he has a better education than I do already , ( he studies Psychology for fun, and does card tricks based on calculus puzzles.) He is kind, he is thoughtful, he has this perfect family life.
He calls me , Miss Erica.
Bailee thinks he is " Hot"
( He's cute , but a total book nerd, no way is he her 'type')
Last night he says to me,
" Miss Erica? Can I talk to you about Bailee?"
" Bailee? You should stay away from that."
" Oh I don't mean like that, I meant that I worry about her. I know that she is without a Father influence in her life , so she seeks Male attention. Miss Erica? She breaks my heart."
" I think you are right, John, about her need for male attention. I don't think it's her fault."
" She makes me so sad, Miss Erica."
" Be kind to her John, not friendly, just be kind."
" Okay, that sounds good. She breaks my heart."
" I know, she breaks mine too."