He’s so innocent, unaware of the stresses of life, and happy to be alive. It would be a crime to tell him the true nature of our situation. He knows we are short on money. Last week it was his 8th birthday. More than anything, he loves Legos. All he talked about the weeks leading up to his birthday was the new Lego Star Wars set that came out, so when the only present he opened for his birthday was an old toy truck, he was visibly upset and confused. He tried to cover up his disappointment with a smile, but I could see right to his heart how he felt. I immediately apologized to him and explained to him that I couldn’t afford to buy him a new Lego set, but I promised him I would buy it when I had the money in a few weeks. He gave me a sincere look tried to act like he didn’t care, but that moment made me feel sick to my stomach.
As I neared the end of my shift, I kept my eyes on the clock, counting down every minute I had left to be there. When the time reached 1:00 A.M., I made a final scan around the property, clocked out and made my way to the bus stop. I got home and made sure to be quiet as I unlocked and entered the front door. To my surprise, I found Nate sitting wide awake at the kitchen counter top. “What are you doing still awake?”, I said to him. He had his back facing me and seemed startled to hear my voice.
“Sorry, I’ll go to bed,” he said, as he precariously slid something into his pajama pocket, and darted to his room. I was so tired from my 14 hour shift that I couldn’t even question him further before he was in his bedroom. Our house only consisted two bedrooms and a living room attached to the kitchen, so it was only a flash before he was on the other side of the house. I decided that whatever he was doing we could talk about it in the morning. I sat down at the kitchen table to go over the payments due for the week. A feeling of uneasiness came over me when I was looking through the mail and found a letter from the bank. Hesitant to peek inside, I held the note as far away from my body as possible. I already knew what it was, but I took my time and methodically examined the note, noticing that the seal had already been popped. However, the news struck me like a lightning bolt when I read the letter and I forgot about the abnormality. The statement read that if I did not make payments within the week, the bank would have to foreclose on the property on Monday; six days away and no possible way to pay it off completely. It seemed my letters pleading for pity had no effect, and I did not know what else to do. Before even realizing it, I had broke down on the floor crying. It was out of the corner of my eye that I saw my son standing in the archway of his bedroom door. I tried to play it off as if I had fallen on the ground, but the tears running down my cheeks gave it away. I had tried so hard to keep my son from knowing the true nature of our situation, and there he stood over me, watching me bawl. He tried to comfort me, but I denied any reason to be sad and started making up excuses. I sent him to bed by telling him it was too late for him to be up and once again he retreated to his bedroom.
I woke up late the next day after my son went to school. I made my way into the kitchen where I found a few crumpled up dollar bills and a letter and written in a child’s handwriting. It read, “Dad, I know times are hard right now, I just want you to know I’m doing my best to help too. Here is the money I was saving up to buy the new Lego set. I know $15 isn’t a lot, but I know you need it more than I do.” He had known about our financial difficulties all along. It clicked in my head what he was doing the night before. He read the bank statement and gathered together all of his money so he could help pay off the house. At that moment, my heart sank and I made it my priority to do whatever it took to get him that Lego set and keep our house.