He stumbles into the kitchen, arms loaded with an assortment of action figures, video games, and a teetering pile of books. I look over from the dinner I'm preparing, startled by the commotion. A shy smile plays across his small face. "We can set up a table outside and sell these to people who walk by," he suggests quietly, hopefully.
I suggest a local upcoming toy swap for the video games; a trip to the used bookstore for a trade on the books. These, I know, will grant him a better return on his items than a yard sale. But, no, he insists. He doesn't want to trade for new toys, new games, new books. He wants to earn money. He wants to earn money to give to me. He wants to help pay the mortgage, buy the groceries. "I am a part of this family. I am a part of this house," he proclaims. "I want to help."
I gaze at him, amazed. My eyes drip tears into the cooking pasta. I can't speak, so I wrap my arms around him and mumble unintelligible love into his ear.
I try to gently talk him out of the yard sale all night, careful not to hurt his feelings with what might appear to be an unappreciative refusal of his offer. I try to guide him into other, more appropriate ways he can help: cutting back on wasted food by eating what's on his plate without complaint, calming my stress levels by picking up after himself, remembering to turn out the lights when he leaves a room.
But The Kid is determined. "This is my mission," he tells me."This is the only way I know how to help. And I'll be bummed if no one buys this stuff, or if I can't make enough money, because I do not want to fail you."
How do I tell him that the pile of possessions he's volunteered to sell represents so much more than the $2 he's likely to earn at a yard sale? How do I tell him that I can't possibly accept his earnest offer? How do I tell him how much the gesture is appreciated? How do I tell him how proud I am of him? How do I tell him how much he warms, and simultaneously breaks, my heart?
As many of you already know, I lost my job yesterday. I work(ed) for a small company; one with little in the way of benefits. I was completing month three of my unpaid maternity leave, scheduled to return to work in early December. The Boss called yesterday and told me not to bother coming back. He's decided that the woman I trained to cover my position in my absence is a better fit for the company, and sees this as "an opportunity for a smooth transition." There are many things I could say about the circumstances surrounding my termination, like how much they suck balls, but I'll save that rant for another post.
Because this post isn't about me. It isn't about my lost job, or my former boss, or my financial worries and woes, or how in god's name I'm going to get by. This post is about the miraculous little boy who lives at the end of my hallway. The one who continually surprises and impresses and humbles me. The one who has given me so much more than I deserve in this life. This post is about him.