I was doing my usual crazy walk home from the yogurt place, trying to directly avoid the sewer grates on the sidewalk because I am a firm believer that those things are not as strong as they look --case in point the last episode of the show Rescue Me shows a man just dropping 20ft to the bottom of the sewer when the grate suddenly gave way--but I digress.
So I am walking home, or to the casual observer, hopping from one side of the side walk to another and I pass a Hispanic mother and her two sons possibly on the same route; home, that is.
The little one is talking. I don't know the origins of the sentence but I catch, "....I am going to ask my daddy to buy me ....he said he would buy me....I'll ask if I can have this too."
We get to a traffic light and stop and then I catch the wearied, slightly irritated answer from his mother, "Your daddy always promises you he'll buy this and buy that and you never get nothing...."
The little one immediately jumps to his father's defense. "Nah- uhn, he doesn't lie. He never lies about Jerseys. He bought me that jersey that one time."
The mother gestures for him to keep walking. The light is green. She uses her left hand and there is no ring. Beside her, her older son is silent, lugging two grocery bags. She has a matching one in her right hand.
The little one lapses into silence. Brooding. Most likely hurt. I felt for him because, he was yet to fully understand the dynamics of an absentee father.
I felt for the woman because conversations like this would keep coming up until one day day, they would stop and then she would know that the man was "dead" to the little one. She was probably tired of defending a man who appeared larger than life to his sons, was probably the same to her once and now was not even worth his word to purchase an item for his children. Her response had had no sneer in it, just a cautious reminder to a child that was beginning the foundations of another fantasy that would possibly be crushed to the ground.
I felt for the older boy because from his silence, he had no fantasies left. Not of his father.
I imagine. But the again, it was just a few words that grazed past my ears. Their father might be in the home, and what the boy wanted might have been ice cream and in that case, his father constantly promising him a cold treat and delivering celery sticks would not be so bad...but I like my version better.