Brayden scowled at the frayed end of his shoelace before throwing the whole sneaker across the room. How was he supposed to go to school when he couldn’t even tie his shoes?
“Come on, Brayden.” Mom held out his sack lunch. “You’re going to be late. The bus won’t wait.”
“I’m not going.” He slumped in the corner bracing his chin in his hands. He could tell Mom was giving him The Look, but he wasn’t going to budge.
“Get going. I don’t have enough gas to drive you to school today. Payday isn’t until tomorrow.”
Brayden was tired of having all the kids snicker when he walked into the classroom. If he was in charge, he wouldn’t have to wear all these old shoes and clothes. If he was in charge, he would have a game station like all the other kids. “There’s never enough money.”
“Do you think you could do better?”
“Yes.” Brayden could see the hurt in Mom’s eyes, but he tried not to care. He was tired of being made fun of. He wanted to be like everyone else.
“We’ll talk about this tonight.” Mom pushed him out the door.
After a difficult day at school, Brayden returned home to find his Mom paying bills at the table. She looked up as he took a seat across from her. His conscience pricked as he remembered the hurt he caused her.
She closed the check book, wrote something on a piece of paper and handed the slip to him.
Brayden looked at the number.
“Since you think you can do a better job with our money, you are in charge of finances for the next two weeks. This is all there is.” Mom looked tired.
It seemed like a fortune to Brayden. He was already calculating what he could purchase with the money. He’d start with the gaming system and a new pair of shoes.
“I won’t tell you what to do with the funds, but please remember that we’ll have to eat.”
Feeling rich, Brayden asked to go to the store right away. Mom said nothing as he made his purchases. He still had enough money left to buy a few items from the grocery store. How much peanut butter would they need for the next two weeks? Brayden would have asked his mom, but he wanted to prove he could do a good job – a better job than she had been doing.
At first, Brayden was proud of his choices. The kids stopped teasing him about his clothes and now he could add his own experience to conversations about game play. But ten days later, when Mom handed him an empty lunch sack, Brayden wondered if he had made a mistake. He searched the cupboards, but there was nothing there besides a little flour and vinegar. There was still four days until pay day.
Mom never said anything, but Brayden could see the strain his decisions had put on her. He put down his game controller as his stomach complained. It was foolish to spend money on a gaming system when their cupboard was empty. He’d been so foolish.
Brayden packed up his gaming system and walked it to the pawn broker at the corner. The amount the man gave was pitifully small compared to what Brayden had paid only days before. Still it was enough to get what was needed. He returned to the apartment with a small sack of food. Mom met him at the door.
“I’m sorry.” He handed her the bag. “I was foolish. Will you forgive me?”
She set the bag down and enveloped him in a hug.
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