Aimee stopped at a picture of Mattie when he was about 5 years old. A faint smile played across her face as she recalled the time Gene had caught him in their bedroom without permission.
Gene towered above the small boy. Hands on his hips, an imposing figure “what are you doing in here?”
Mattie’s eyes darted around desperate for escape. The half open drawer of the night stand evidence to his misdeeds. His small shoulders rose in a shrug “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know” Gene repeated kneeling in front of his son. Holding his hand out Gene asked “what do you have there?”
Mattie’s head jerked up panic in his eyes. His hand clenched around his the prize he had come for tucked firmly behind his back. “Nothing” he mumbled looking away.
“Hand it over” his manner patient and while his tone commanded attention.
Reluctantly Matt brought his hand from behind his back depositing his ill gotten treasure into his dad’s outstretched hands.
Lips twitching Gene managed to keep a straight face “son do you know what this is?”
Eyes fixed on the object in his dad’s hand. Matt slowly shook his head “a balloon.” He reached for it a hopeful look in his eyes “I couldn’t get enough air in it to blow it up.”
“Um” Gene blew air from his nose as his body shook with repressed laughter. “Why did you think mommy and I had balloons?”
Hands clapped behind him Mattie raised his face “I heard mommy ask you if you had rubbers.” He paused uncertainly at the quickly repressed snort his dad made “you said they were in your nightstand.”
“So you helped yourself to a balloon?” Gene asked eyes dancing with glee.
Matt nodded “I’m sorry”.
“Mattie next time you want something come to me or mommy. We’ll help you” he paused to compose himself “don’t just take things from our room.”
“Ok” he said sounding resigned “can I have my balloon back?”
Laughter left Gene breathless shaking his head “no son that’s not a balloon.”
“It isn’t” Mattie asked confused.
“When you’re older you’ll understand” Gene said escorting the boy to the door “now to to your room and stay there until supper time.”
Aimee laughed running her fingers over the photos. Her son’s face staring up at her. Gene never let him forget that childish mistake with the balloon.