A little boy surprises his mother with uncharacteristic misbehavior
|Silvia rushed about the house, kicking toys out of the way and throwing a pair of dirty socks on top of the heap of clothes that overflowed the laundry basket. She was running late for work, as usual, and her son had been difficult. He didn’t want to get out of bed and when he finally did emerge out from under his spiderman comforter, he only moped around the house, taking his sweet time to get ready for school. Silvia tried to urge him on. Every few minutes she poked her head into his room.
“You’re going to miss the bus and I do not have time to take you. Hurry it up, bud.” she said on her third attempt to get him moving.
Silvia raced to her room, afraid to look at the clock, and dug around in the bottom of her closet for her favorite black pumps. After a thorough search, she only found one. Silvia hobbled down the hall toward the kitchen in her one high heel. She hoped that she had left the other shoe by the door.
“Christopher, have you seen my shoe?” Silvia said. She glanced up and found Chris sitting on top of the kitchen table, next to her purse, with her open wallet in his hand.
“Christopher!” She rushed over and ripped her wallet from his hands.
“Mom, I just…” he said
“You just what, son? You think it’s acceptable to take money from my purse? What do you think you’re doing?” she said.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean, I just,” said Chris. He fidgeted with the strap of his backpack.
“How could you do such a thing, son?” Silvia sighed and sat down at the kitchen table. Chris hid his face in his hands in an attempt to hide
his tears from his mother.
“I know how hard it’s been on you, without your dad. Your dad… this would have made him so sad, Chris, to see you stealing. Still, though, it’s no excuse.” Silvia said.
“Mom, I’m sorry, I was gonna pay you back after I got my allowance. I just, I just gotta take care of something first.” Christopher’s eyes were red and puffy. Silvia was shocked and worried. What could an eight year old have to take care of?
“You think I’m going to give you this money? After what you just did?” Silvia said.
“Please, Mom, I really need it.” Chris said.
“I just do, Mom, please.”
“Because why, Chris?”
“Because I’m not a chicken! I gotta do something.” Chris finally relented.
Silvia softened, “What do you have to do, son?”
Chris sat down next to his mother. He rested both elbows on the table, his chin propped up in his hands. “Jimmy Sanders says he is gonna beat me up after school. He says we don’t have to fight if I pay him twenty bucks.”
Silvia knew Jimmy Sanders. She went to high school with his mother and remembered her bad reputation. Like mother like son.
“Why didn’t you tell me? How long has Jimmy been bothering you?” Silvia said.
“I don’t know… I just… Dad said I gotta be the man around here now. That means I can’t be a chicken.” Chris said. Silvia was taken aback by the logic of her eight year old boy.
“What do you think your father would do, if he were in your shoes?” she said.
Chris barely let her finish her question, “He’d fight! He’d beat up any kid who messed with him. Then they’d never bug him again.” Chris flailed his arms in the air, as if he was fighting some imaginary opponent. Silvia thought for a moment. She wanted to present a logical argument that Chris could understand, and, though she didn’t like to admit it, she considered whether or not Chris was right about his dad.
“Chris, your dad was the kind of man who tried to stand up for people who couldn’t stand up for themselves. He never ran from a fight, no, but he didn’t go looking for them either. He always tried to find a better solution to his problems.” Silvia said. Chris nodded his head, considering his mother’s words.
“So what do you think he would try before violence, if he were in your situation?” Silvia asked. Confusion swept over Christopher’s features.
“Well, I was trying to just do what Jimmy wants. That way, I wouldn’t have to fight him.” he said.
“But does Jimmy deserve that money? Is it any better for you to steal than it is for you to fight?”
“I don’t know, I guess not.”
“And what about when Jimmy spends that twenty? What is to keep him from trying to make you pay him again?”
“I didn’t think about it like that.” Chris said, wrinkling up his little brow.
“Find another way to deal with Jimmy, and if he still wants to fight, tell your teacher.” Silvia said. She pulled Chris to his feet, helped him strap on his backpack, and planted a kiss on his button nose. Outside, old Mrs. Fowler, the same bus driver who drove Silvia to school when she was a girl, laid on the horn.
“You better hurry. Mrs. Fowler isn’t afraid to leave you behind.” Silvia ushered Christopher out the door. With a smile and a wave, he was off to school.
That afternoon, Silvia had just come home from work and kicked off her shoes when Chris came barreling through the kitchen door.
“Look, mom, look!” In his excitement he threw his half open backpack down, spilling colored pencils across the tile floor. Silvia was distracted by the mess.
“Christopher, pick those up!” Chris bent down and gathered up the pencils, all the while talking a mile a minute.
“I tried to do what you said, Mom. I was gonna tell Mrs. Smith cause Jimmy got really mad when I didn’t have the money. But then, at recess, Rob Carter, you know, the kid in the leg brace? Well, he said that Jimmy was gonna beat him up too if he didn’t pay up. So, I did what you said! I thought, what would Dad do?” Chris grinned up at his shocked mother, proudly showcasing his big black shiner.