For the first week or so of school the weather was warm enough to wear shorts. With the approach of the fall equinox, that changed as the days became cooler. The battle of the pants had begun. Every day I fought with my six year old about wearing pants. I know it looks warm out because it's sunny, but it's not warm at all, I would say. Then I would suggest he step outside to decide for himself. One day he decided he would wear shorts anyway. He was cold that day, but he'd learned his lesson and wore pants from then on.
So the day I came home from work and saw he was in shorts, I immediately figured he'd ditched the pants for shorts after school. So, while I went through the motions of making dinner, I asked him. (I didn't have a problem with that, I just wanted to know if the pants war was back on.)
Mom: So, why are you wearing shorts?
Him: Mom, don't be mad.
(For reference, kids, this is never the best way to start a conversation.)
I just looked at him. And his cute anxious, hopeful face.
Him: Promise you won't be mad.
Me: What happened? (At this point, I still believed it was about the pants.)
Him: Well, Nathan said he would pay me a hundred and two dollars if I peed my pants.
Me: ... ! ... (Yes, I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. Nathan, by the way, is a classmate, not one of my six year old's older brothers.)
Him: Oh, please don't be mad. Please, oh, please, oh, please!
Me: Uh ---
Him: If you promise not to be mad, I'll give you-- thirty percent! Please, mom!
Me: ! (I had to turn away at this point. Biting the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing! A whole 30%! I'm sure he had no idea how much money that was; it just sounded like a good bribe.)
Me: So, where are the pants now? (Trying not to giggle. Still not quite over the fact it wasn't about the pants.)
Him: You're not mad?
I just gave him That Look-- you know, the one that says he should know better than to ask.
Him: (head bowed) In the laundry.
Me: So where did this happen? (Believing it had to be on the playground at recess.)
Him: (head still bowed) In math class.
Me: ! (I think my eyes hit the ceiling. Oh, man! What the teacher must think of me now!)
Him: So, are you mad?
Me: Honey, I'm not sure Nathan is going to be able to pay you. (Feeling a sense of the importance of this transaction, I had to tread very carefully.)
Him: But, Mom! He has the money! He got it for his birthday! And he promised!
Me: Sweetie, I don't think his parents are going to let him pay you. I'm sorry.
Him: He will. I know he will. We pinkie swore!
He was absolutely convinced. What could I do? This was one of life's lessons he was going to have to learn for himself. Just as he was convinced he would get the money, I was convinced he wouldn't. There was no way I would let my child take a hundred dollars-- sorry, a hundred and two dollars -- to school for any reason. Pinkie swear, or no.
Before he left for school in the morning I tried to give him a few words of warning.
Me: Try not to be mad if Nathan doesn't have the money, okay? It won't be his fault.
Him: But Mom! We pinkie swore! I know he'll have it, I just know it.
I came home from work that day prepared for tears, prepared to comfort a heart shattered by a broken promise. I found him in the living room happily chewing away on his lunch leftovers.
Me: So? How did it go?
Him: Well, I didn't get the hundred dollars ... But I got twenty-seven cents, a mini chocolate bar, and bouncy ball.
Me: Are you happy with that?
Him: *shrug* Yeah.
I didn't get my 30% commission. I got something better: a story I'll never forget.