Last Friday I took Drake shopping for new sneakers. He didn’t need new sneakers. He only wanted them because he was jealous of the shiny white Nikes that Josh was sporting. Apparently he begged and pleaded long enough that his mother gave in and sent him out the door with a check to buy new shoes.
Because Boyfriend had some work to do around the house, I took Drake to the mall. We stopped at three stores and none of them had the shoes he wanted. He directed me to a different store down the road and there he found the style his brother had. But there was a problem: the pair cost $46 and Drake’s check was only for $40.
“I knew it!” he wailed. “I told her I needed more money and she said ‘no’. She should have listened to me!”
Remember that TV show, Herman’s Head? It was as if all those people were talking to me while I stood there…
“I don’t like his attitude. Ten-year-olds shouldn’t instruct their parents how much money to spend. He doesn’t even need the shoes! And his outburst doesn’t deserve a reward. Take him home.”
“Just kick in the extra six bucks. It’s not that much money.”
“His mother gave him a budget. He should stick to it.”
“His mother let him down. Buy him a $100 pair of shoes to make him really happy. Then take him out for ice cream and pony rides.”
I watched as Drake paced and muttered under his breath. Then I made a suggestion. “How about if I call your dad?” I began. “I’ll ask him to call your mom and see if she’s willing to increase your budget.” (Yeah, I could’ve let Drake call his mom from my phone. But I think that would’ve put him in the middle… and it would’ve put her in a position where she felt pressured to act a certain way given the fact that it was me standing beside him and not his dad)
“OK,” he agreed.
I pulled out my phone and walked a few isles away. Boyfriend was up to his elbows in insulation and was not happy to hear why I was calling. He had bigger issues to deal with.
“Just give him the six dollars,” he told me. “I’ll pay you back. It’s not a big deal.”
But I persisted. “I feel like this is a teachable moment,” I told him. “[Your Ex] gave him a specific amount of money and I think we should respect that. The deal to get new shoes was made between the two of them and I don’t want to go against the decision she made.”
Begrudgingly, he agreed to make the call. A few minutes later he called me back and said she didn’t mind Drake spending a few extra dollars.
When I delivered the news to Drake, he was quite pleased and set about searching for a box of shoes in his size…. but he didn’t find any. After all that, the size he needed was nowhere to be found. Luckily, he discovered different style, for a dollar less, and they fit. We paid the bill and he wore them home. Drake was happy to have new shoes and Josh was happy that Drake wasn’t able to copy him.
…And I was happy to move past the moment of sheer confusion regarding whether or not to mingle my money with The Mom’s. I’m happy with my decision to respect her authority and clear my actions through the Actual Parents before buying the shoes. I just wish I could’ve just called Mom myself and asked the question. I wish we could have, at least, that kind of relationship.