Money for nothing (and some chips for free)

A whole year ago, at the tender age of three, Buster began pulling at my heart strings to make me feel guilty about leaving for work in the mornings. I eventually bought him off by explaining that I had to work to earn money so I could buy things, like cookies and Doritos.

The horrible thought of not being able to afford snacks toned down his guilt trip, allowing me to get away without feeling I was abandoning my children to the wolves. For months, I believed a boy’s lust for cookies had solved the abandonment issue.

I was wrong.

It’s not that Buster has committed himself to anything drastic, like healthy eating; he’s just never fully abandoned the notion that he can have both Daddy on weekday mornings and cookies.

This morning he introduced his new tactic. “Don’t go to work,” he pleaded. “I’ll give you money if you stay home.”

So it’s come to this – children trying to buy their parents’ love. Doesn’t he know that never works?

First of all, it’s the government’s job to pay people not to work, and he could get into a lot of trouble if the government found out he was honing in on its racket. Second, I know the sum of ready cash to which he has access. It amounts to about $2. I don’t know how many Oreos he thinks that will buy, but it’s hardly an economic incentive to keep me at home when I can make double that amount by going to work.

In Buster's mind, this is how much money he can offer me. Here, he pictures me going off to trade it for a cartload of treats.

In Buster’s mind, this is how much money he can offer me. Here, he pictures me going off to trade it for a cartload of treats. Unlike going to work, this is a valid reason for me to leave the house.

Consequently, I had to refuse his offer, but he didn’t take defeat lying down. In fact, he would only take it by being picked up. As I bent over to hug him goodbye, he made the apparently innocent request, “Pick me up and hug me.” This request is anything but innocent.

Buster is a world champion hugger, and once he gets his hug all up over you, it’s a chore to break free of it. He’s all arms and legs, which encircle his target like creeping vines. He is one prehensile tail away from having the grip of a monkey in a windstorm.

But the real curse of his hug is the sweet, warm feeling of being loved it gives the hugged. It must be a similar dreamlike feeling that insects get after being injected with venom and wrapped up snug in a spider web. You want to resign yourself to captivity.

Every time I pull away from Buster’s hug, he leaves with another little piece of my heart. But a man greedy for a fistful of quarters does what he has to do. Somehow, I did it soon enough to stay on schedule for work.

That’s when I encountered the slowest, longest, freight train on Earth, crossing the road between me and my workplace.

I was annoyed that the train made me late, but I was even more annoyed that I could have used that time to get more Best Hug in the World.


15 comments on “Money for nothing (and some chips for free)

  1. Lynn says:

    How freaking sweet is this boy. Seriously, paying you off so that you don’t have to go to work. Melt my heart!

  2. Janet H-C says:

    I LOVE your writing, Scott, almost as much as I love your family!!!

  3. Cookie says:

    Awww. Dude. Kids always mange to punch us right in the balls with their sweetness and sincere love for us. In my house, as soon as the violins stop, Buddy is bursting through the door……”You done?? You all done?”
    It actually really just makes me want to be poor, rather than be apart from him for one more second.

    • Look at the bright side: with his keen ear for when the music stops, he’s practicing to become a world champion player of Musical Chairs. They can make it hard to want to earn a living sometimes, can’t they?

  4. Matt says:

    A great sweet and funny post. I’ll even forgive that in it’s title you quoted one of my all time most hated songs.

  5. There has been a lot written about the bond between a dad and his three year old, but Scott, no one has ever written a more touching account.

  6. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Awwwwwww …… That hug sounds like Heaven to me, Scott. Nothing to me beats a child who completely wraps himself around you sticking like glue. Oh wow! Treasure those hugs and put them in a safe place because there is a day coming you will hear instead, “Ah, Dad, no hugs now. My friends are watching.” I HOPE your sweetie doesn’t change. I really really do!!! ❤

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