Sometimes things happen and you are simply blown away by all the meaning behind them. I figure this is that kind of story.
The other day, my ex-wife (I kind of hate that term; I much prefer “my kids’ mom”) Monica, was in the car with our three kids on the way to pay bills and run errands. She had an envelope with money that she had carefully counted out for her expedition. At her first stop, she recounted her allotted cash and noticed right away that some was missing.
Impossible, she muttered to herself. It was all here just last night! It’s a frightening feeling; missing money is the worst. So she tallied it again and sure enough, $100 had vanished. Immediately, as any parent of three young children would do, she turned to the kids and asked them if they had touched the money. They all denied it vehemently.
Something about our 6-year-old son Henry’s reaction twitched her mama intuition, so she grilled him a little more. Now, you have to understand, our Henry is a bright, beautiful soul — the kind of kid whose eyes sparkle when he’s excited, happy, or even pissed at Dad for not getting the more expensive Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars in lieu of the cheaper Bomb Pops. And sparkling-eyed Henry is also a storyteller — his imagination boundless, his ability to weave an extravagant yarn out of very basic facts is nothing short of magic. I wouldn’t change a thing about that. Neither would his mom.
When Henry told her that his 3-year-old brother had stashed the cash under his bed, well, Monica scented a tall tale unfolding. So she tapped into all those crime shows she’d devoured over the years and tiptoed Henry through a parking lot interrogation in the subtle way you get to the bottom of a mystery involving a kid who thinks he’s about be in big trouble.
Before long, Henry broke down in tears and confessed. He’d taken the loot out of the envelope on the kitchen counter and stashed it under his own bed.
Mom was upset. Of course she was. It seemed so unlike our son. How could your own child take money from his mom? He’s not that kind of a kid. He must’ve been confused about what he was doing; he’s barely ever held more than a dollar bill in his little palm! And even then, he’s never showed much interest in the darn thing anyway.
She went back to the house, livid, confused, hopeful, and freaked out. Henry sobbed in his car seat, but didn’t try explaining his actions any more. Obviously, Monica knew she was going to have to have a big talk with him and bring me into it. We’d need to be on the same page when it comes to something like this. That’s a big part of raising kids together in divorce: you have to work even harder together to be on the same childrearing page.
But you know, life is funny. Beautiful even, and often right when we least expect it to be.
Back at her house, under Henry’s bed, right where he told her to look, she found a lone folded piece of paper laying there in the dark.
You ready, people?
It was a Mother’s Day card. Turns out, he’d secretly made it for his mom and hidden it away. Inside was the hundred bucks. That’s when it hit her. A week or so earlier, Henry had asked his mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day and she’d told him she was fresh out of her favorite perfume. Maybe he could tell Dad, she’d hinted, and he could help the kids find some for her.
Then she promptly forgot about the conversation. But not Henry; not her son. So when he came across a pile of money in that envelope in his kitchen, he saw it as an enchanted windfall — a golden opportunity to make his mama happy on Mother’s Day. He’d taken the money (he had no idea how much) thinking he could bring it to me and we could buy his mom that special Mother’s Day gift she really wanted.
It’s the stuff of legends, if you ask me. Real Robin Hood-esque. The loveliest crime committed totally and completely from the heart.
We talked about this, Henry and me. He honestly didn’t understand what he had done. He was operating from a spectacular place any parent would have to be proud of. As his dad, I couldn’t be mad at that. I was the opposite, and so was his mom. We were breathless at the scope of his scheme. We were biting our lips, man, trying not to cry out the joy in front of each other when we probably should have let it fly.
I explained to my boy that what he had done was wrong in a lot of ways, but I couldn’t harp on it. You don’t harp on stuff like that. If you do, you’re making a huge mistake.
I smiled, told him that I understood, and that this time around it was okay.
Oh, and the perfume? We’re heading out to buy it together this week. And I’m buying.