I've spent much of the last three days in two Menards and three Home Depot stores in various Chicago neighborhoods. Bought a new bathtub at what the store associate informed me was the single largest home improvement store in the world! Smack in a western Chicago neighborhood, not convenient to any expressway, apparently was serving the average neighbor do-it-yourself-er, one of which I am.
I first noticed the three little brothers behind me in the checkout line when the littlest spun out in front of me and then looked straight up with his oversized dark eyes. Cute, clean-cut, frolicking about, in no way annoying, I paid little more attention until a serious four-way negotiation broke out. Seems the youngest child had realized his desperate need for a bag of candy that was positioned--of course--smack at his eye level. And he wanted that candy. Had to have it, he told his dad who accompanied him and the older two, about ages six and eight.
It was one of the most beautiful day-before-Father's Day interchanges I've heard between a father and his three sons. The dad said, "Sure, you can have that candy. But then you can't have the pool. You can only choose one. Candy or the pool." The other boys jerked to attention.
"You mean if he gets that candy, we cannot get the pool?"
"That's right. He gets to choose for the three of you and he can choose the candy or the pool." The father was carrying some kind of pool filter pump, and the boys were tossing about their purchase, a single neon-green noodle-shaped floater thing for use in a swimming pool.
I was intrigued. And the older brothers were worried. "Hector," they cried, voices nearing panic, "if you get that candy now, that means we can't get the pool."
But Hector was set on the candy. It looked so good, and the package made a little rustling sound as he held it with both hands. The dad repeated, "Hector gets to choose."
The older boys tried to explain to little bro just how much they wanted that pool, and how much Hector's candy choice was going to ruin all the fun for later. Nobody whined at the dad (a buff and good-looking guy who, upon my ask, said his name was Ozzie.) The older boys were focused on Hector and getting him motivated to make what was to them, the clear and obvious decision.
Finally, Hector relented as the brothers told him if he held off on the candy now, they sure would have a lot more fun in the pool later.
I was impressed. That's when I asked the man his name. "Ozzie," I said, "You have to be one of the most brilliant dads I have ever met." And where is the pool you are going to buy?
"It's at Walmart." Like me, he's not a one-stop shopper; probably a good sale happening over at the Walmart pool showroom. I imagine the boys and Ozzie had a marvelous Father's Day together. To think--those boys don't yet realize that they've got a Solomon of a dad.