He had a date that he was so excited for. The whole family knew about because he had been talking about it all week. And the day had finally come. Nothing would tamper with his mood today. As he started to get ready, he noticed his laundry was still dirty. Mom didn’t do laundry! My favorite pair of pants are dirty, the shirt I was going to wear is wrinkly. That is ok, he thought, this won’t ruin my day.

Lunchtime rolls around and he headed to the kitchen for some food. He finds a message scribed on a Post-It note stuck to the front of the fridge. Mother knows him well. If she wants him to find a note from her, the fridge is the best delivery system.

The note read, “Plant tree. You get allowance after.”

He sighs. She knows I have plans today. Why would I do this if she didn’t wash my clothes, he selfishly thought.

This would be the twenty-something tree he has planted for her. He knew the routine; get a shovel, find the aforementioned tree, roll tree away, dig hole where tree sat, roll the tree in, add soil around tree. The acceptance criteria is clear: tree must be plumb, tree must be flush, base of tree should covered with bark, and all remaining dirt must be disposed, place hose on low trickle on tree for the day. He had this down to about an hour process. There is about two and half hours until the hot date, so he knew there was hardly any time. She is really starting to put a damper on the day.

After failing a plea to plant the tree the following day, actually planting the tree, and a quick shower, he had thirty minutes until his date-night plans commenced.

Good! There is hope, yet, his mood begun to rekindle.

The allowance is usually on his clean laundry, or on the table. Both places had no money. He called her to ask for the inconvenient location she decided to hide the money.

She answers the call, “I am at the grocery store, honey. Is there anything you need?”

“Yeah, my allowance. Where did you put it?” He shot back bluntly.

Ignoring his adolescent impatience, she responds “Did you plant the tree?” She fumbles through her purse to see she still had his allowance. She had forgotten to leave it for him.

“Yes. I have to go in a few minutes. Where is my money?” It is like pulling teeth, he starting to lose his cool.

“Well, I actually have it with me. I am running errands right now — you can meet me here or wait until I get home.”

Dirty pants and sour attitude, the boy drove to the grocery store to collect what he saw as rightfully his. A quick errand, I won’t even be late picking her up.

Or, so he thought.

“I have walked each isle, I can’t find you” he said after several minutes of wandering aimlessly at the grocery store.

“Are you at the grocery store?” She realized her mistake.

“No, Mom. I am at church,” he snapped sarcastically. “Yes, I am here. Where are you?”

“Sweetie, I already left. I went to Home Depot” She said with sorrow and trying to hide her embarrassment.

“You are kidding, right?” He said. She knows I am late. Why is she sabotaging my day?

“If you leave now, I will still be here.” She reassured.

She hears the phone click, signifying the end of the call.

He made it to Home Depot, “I just walked in to the Garden department,” knowing that is the only place she goes in a place like this, ”Where are you? I need my money.”

“I am sorry! I didn’t think you were coming — ”

“What? Why — ” he interrupts.

“I am at the mall,” she interrupts back, “just down the street. In Dillards.” This time she hung up first.

A late afternoon on Saturday spruced up for a pretty girl, chasing his mother through town for his date money was the last thing he wanted to do. His patience grew thinner and thinner with each minute. He reluctantly makes his way to the mall.

“I am in Dillards,” this time he called before pointlessly walking each isle.

“Oh, you are?” She begun to taunt.

“Mom.”  He was beyond impatient. Fuming.

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I just don’t see you,” she smirked.  

“Yeah, probably because you left  —” he began to rant, red in the face.

“Oh, there you are!” She exclaimed.

“Where are you?” The boy stands over 6 feet tall, he is able to see over all of the clothing racks and small makeup displays scattered throughout the department store.  He looks in each direction furiously, trying to find her. But she would just blend in. He could only hear the giggling on the other end of the line, that made him even more angry.

“Mom, I really don’t have time for this bull — ”

“Marco!“ she screamed, muffling his profanity. It was loud enough he heard it echo in the store.

That is it! He finally lost it. Without any hesitation, he jumps forward on to his stomach, and rolled under the nearest clothing rack. A small flashback popped in to his head of the last time he was under one of these. He was just a toddler hiding from this same lady in this same store. He found so much satisfaction in deceiving her then. That isn’t the same thing, this is different, he thought as he ignored the resemblance. Angry, he crawls on the ground to strategically get away from the last place she had a line-of-sight on him.

I need to find her first. I need to win. She is just… so… what a… he stubbornly tried to process. He hangs up his phone, cutting off communication.

“Polo!” he blurts out, surprising himself and several quiet patrons nearby.

“Marco,” she speaks with volume, but much much softer than him.

“Polo!” he yells, as if it were a battle yell.

“Marco,” she says a bit louder than the last, filled with the resistance of laughter.

“Damnit, Mom!”  Like a frustrated puppy, ”Polo!” There was no happiness in his response to this childish game. But, as sure as hell is hot, he is going to win. He must find her first. It is more than a game to him. To him, it is a point of power. Whoever wins this is better. Whoever loses this, owes the winner. He runs to another clothing rack, keeping as low as he can.

“Excuse me ma’am,” he says casually, as he strides adamantly, yet awkwardly past a lady thumbing through summer dresses.

“Marco,” she hollers in a singsongy tune.

She is close. Just one more and I have her. “Polo!” he shouts.


“Polo!” he nervously repeats. He rolled under another clothing rack as to not give away his last position.


“Polo?” He says quieter, almost as a pathetic admit of defeat as he crouched lower to the ground.

“I win,” she proudly announces in a normal voice, peeking her head over the top of the clothing rack.