“Where did you get that candy bar?” Danielle asked her five year old son, Thomas.
Thomas looked up from his car seat, chocolate lining his lips, and slowly placed his hand with the wrapper behind his back. He did not answer.
Danielle stood in the opening of the van door, the sun beating down and the groceries getting warm. A drop of sweat ran down her cheek. “I asked you where did you get that candy from?”
“It’s mine. I found it,” Thomas said, wide eyed. His grip on the candy tightened as it started to squish in his hands.
“You found it? Right! Come on,” Danielle said, picking him up and putting him on the pavement. Thomas held on to the candy tight in between sobs and screams.
As the automatic doors opened, the realization set in for Thomas: he wouldn’t get to finish his candy bar. With his mother dragging him to the customer service desk, he was able to cram the last bit of chocolaty goodness into his mouth.
Danielle found a manager sitting behind the counter. Thomas’ hands and face were covered in chocolate.
“May I…help you,” the man said, reluctantly, noticing the messy boy.
Flipping the hair out of her face and still trying to hold on to Thomas, she said, “I am so sorry, but while I was shopping my son took a candy bar without paying for it. I am really so sorry.”
The manager looked down at Thomas, covered in goo, and then back to Danielle. “Well that is very honest of you. I am sure the young man meant no harm.”
Danielle ignored the manager and prodded Thomas, “Thomas, you look at the manager and tell him you’re sorry.”
Thomas put his best frown on for the man behind the counter, though he didn’t feel bad for taking the candy. “I’m sorry,” he said meekly.
The manager smiled and beamed at Thomas, “Thank you so much young man. I imagine little ones take things all the time, but it’s not often anymore they come back to apologize. You are a very good little man.”
Thomas’ demeanor changed at the praise. It felt like he had done the right thing in taking the candy, at least that’s how the man made him feel.
“How much do I owe you?” Danielle asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” the man replied. “I’ll take care of it.”
“That’s very kind of you, thank you,” Danielle said, grabbing Thomas again and heading for the restroom to clean him up.
Once inside, she lowered the diaper changing station and sat him on it. “Don’ touch anything, you’re a mess.”
She got some paper towels and ran them under the water. She turned back around and saw Thomas sitting happily on the changing station, taking a bite of another candy bar.
Mouth agape, she searched for words, but none came. Thomas took another bite and smiled, saying with a mouth full of sweetness, “When I finish, can I go say sorry again?”
Danielle sighed and started cleaning up her little boy.