“We got mad at each other and started fighting when we discovered that there was no money,” she said.” “We started insulting each other and pointing fingers; before you know it we were having a full-fledged fight. I don’t know how long it went on, but when we took a breath, we could hear Cody crying in his room.”
All of us fell silent after that. All we could hear was the kid crying.
“The scariest thing that kid’s gonna see today is the two of you going toe-to-toe,” I said. “He doesn’t know about budgets, he doesn’t know about envelopes; he just knows about how bad it feels to see his parents duking it out. You’re scaring him and it’s shaking him. If the two of you don’t grow up in a jiffy, things will get worse. You’ll start fighting about every little last thing and it’s going to tear your marriage and family apart at the seams. Don’t let it happen!” I told them, in no uncertain terms.
They both looked at the ground, not saying anything. The kid had calmed down inside, so the pause was awkward.
Finally, the man decided to be a man. He reached over and loosely took his wife hand and whispered to her “I’m sorry.”
She sniffled, stepped over to him and hugged him. She managed to get “I’m sorry too” out before she broke down worse than a pricey car the day after the warranty is up.
After another minute, they both looked at each other and then me. I nodded to the house; the kid’s bedroom. “Settle it,” I said.
They walked into the house with me on their tails. This wasn’t going to be pretty, but it didn’t need to be. You don’t learn a lesson by taking the easy route.
The kid was playing with his superhero action figures. He was sitting on his bed, looking down, bobbing his head nervously from side to side, like he didn’t want to make eye contact.
“Cody?” Mom started in her soft, cradle voice.
“Umm, hmm,” Cody said.
They both sat down on either side of him on the bed. She put her arm around him and pulled him closer.
“Honey, your daddy and I are very sorry that we were yelling. Did it scare you?”
Cody nodded, but didn’t look up. He kept knocking the Cyber-Man and Nuclear Nathan figures together slowly.
The dad rubbed his eye, like he had something stuck in it. He did; tears.
“Cody, mommy and I have been mad at each other for a while. We weren’t being very nice to each other or to you. But we know what we did wrong and we won’t do it anymore, I promise,” the dad said.
Now Mom was rubbing her eyes and sniffling. “It’s OK, honey. We love you very much. Can you forgive us?”
The room was quiet. Cody didn’t look up. He didn’t say anything. What he did was even better … he reached over and hugged his mom. Dad hugged them both. They rocked back and forth for a minute. I almost felt guilty for watching and backed out of the room.
I looked up to the ceiling. “Thanks, Big Guy,” I thought to myself. “That’s just what the doctor ordered for these guys.”
From inside the room, the dad actually had the guts to say “Cody, we don’t have enough money to buy the Cyber-Man costume. I’m sorry. Is there something else you’d like to go ask?”
What happened next blew me away. Mom suggested the three of them make a costume. Dad agreed. “Would you like that, son?” he asked.
“YEEEAAAAHHHHH!” Cody shouted, overjoyed.
I was speechless, baby. When I was growing up, the only things you could make for a costume were a ghost and a hobo. I was all smiles that things were right again. Good luck trying to convince the little man to stick a sheet over his head.
“Honey, why don’t you get that old sheet of ours? I’ll get the scissors,” dad said.
I smiled. I chuckled. I shook my head. I looked at the ceiling again. “You’re good,” I said.
“Daddy, can I cut the eye-holes?”
“We’ll all do it together, son. It’ll be fun!”
Then the kid started laughing. I could hear bed springs creaking again and again. I knew he was jumping on the bed; all was forgiven.
I made for the door. As I got there, I heard Daddy behind me. “Thanks, sir. I don’t know what else to say … thanks.”
I turned around and smiled. “Just goes to show, joe,” I said. “The most valuable things in life can’t be bought. Your boy is gonna remember this Halloween for the rest of his life. And not because of some cheap Cyber-Man costume, either.”
He understood and nodded. I like understanding and nodding.
“If you two need some help on the marriage side, go to daveramsey.com and click on “Vowsavers.”
He smiled. “We may do that.”
I stared at him. He cleared his throat.
“I WILL do that,” he said. Now I smiled.
I strutted down the driveway toward the road, smiling; another case solved. As I reached the street, I heard a loud knock on the window. I turned and saw the couple standing in the kid’s
bedroom, holding the curtains out of the way. They both looked at me for a second, then waved.
I tipped my hat to them. Good people.