After a long day of cleaning houses and then running kids to activities I pulled into the grocery store parking lot. I told the boys, “I’m craving something, and I’m going to have you go in the store and get it for me. Do you know what it is?” My 12 year old confidently answered, “Chocolate!” I responded with a “duh” tone, “Well, yeah, chocolate, but chocolate what?” My 16 year old answered with that sarcastic tone that only can come from a 16 year old, “A chocolate husband, deep fat fried, and smothered in money.”
We laughed hysterically! It has now become a running joke around here. I even use the line with our home-school group. When field trips are offered that are out of my budget I just say, “Sorry, Albertson’s is still out of those deep fat fried chocolate husbands smothered in money.”
We joke about it, but my 6 year old prays every day for a husband for me. He has even included his petition in the blessing at dinner. He imagines a step-dad who will rescue us from our poverty. He imagines a step-dad who will love us with the love of Christ, a love we never got from his dad. He imagines a step-dad who will do all of those father-son things with him that his own dad has refused. Some people think those thoughts are fantasy, a wishing for a fairy godfather to come along and make it all better. Some chastise me that a man can never love someone else’s child as much as he loves his own.
I know better. I know fairy godfathers are real.
At 11 years old I entered junior high, seventh grade. I was prepubescent while all of the other girls seemed to have blossomed over the summer. At 5’6″ I was much taller than most of the children, boys and girls. I was called Jimmy Walker and Beanpole. The horror of public nudity and showers became a daily nightmare where, as I revealed my massively bruised, bony legs, I became the object of stares, questions, and mocking. The huge purple, green, and blue marks drew attention to my undeveloped, awkwardly skinny body that was so different from everyone else’s.
Covering it with clothing didn’t spare me from the stares and mocking though. I started school without any new school clothes. I had one pair of pants that were so tight I couldn’t button them and one pair that were so short they came a good three inches above my ankles. My supposed best friend told me, with great disgust, that her mother would NEVER let her wear play clothes like that to school.
My mother, however, had flat out refused to buy me anything. She had bought herself a sexy black knit jumpsuit that belted at the waist and a clingy knit black dress with a drapey skirt. She bought flared jeans with a rope accent down the outside of the legs, several gauze tops in a variety of colors, and macrame sandals. She had hoop earrings and expensive gold earrings. She had purses to match. But, we were too broke for even one pair of pants for me.
At the end of October I was freezing cold because we were also too broke to buy a coat for me. My noncustodial dad showed up to school one morning and surprised me with a brand new brown suede coat with patchwork appliques on it. I was thrilled to death! God, I appreciated that! I’ll never forget his smile that cold morning as he found me outside the locker court and brought me my treasure.
I had asked my mom for a pair of pants and questioned why we couldn’t afford just one pair for me when she’d bought so many new clothes for herself. She almost snorted, “Because I have to dress nice to find a man to take care of YOU!” That didn’t make sense to me since she wasn’t really taking care of me as it was.
However, she found him. And, he did take care of me. We had to move 40 miles away to where he lived, and he said that he wasn’t going to let me start a new school without new clothes. He said starting a new school is too hard, so I needed to feel good about myself. I ended up with an outfit for every day of the week for two weeks, and each outfit was a complete ensemble. I had a brown V-neck T-shirt with white knit shorts, a white visor, and brown sandals. I had a bright green terry cloth short outfit with matching sandals. I had jeans with blouses and scarves and jewelry to match. Each outfit was unique and included matching everything, head to toe.
My mother had chopped at my hair in an attempt to feather it, but my natural curl just stuck out like Dumbo’s ears. It may have feathered, but I didn’t have a blow dryer or a curling iron to attempt to tame it in a direction. My new fairy godfather though took me to a friend of his who worked at a real salon. I didn’t recognize myself! Everyone said that I looked like a 12 year old Farrah Fawcett. Suddenly, still flat chested, I blossomed.
I loved my fairy godfather. He was magical. We went clothes shopping together. We played in the new pool he put in for us. We laughed a lot. My mom didn’t beat me while we were under his roof, but she was jealous and accused me of sleeping with him. In her mind, I had to be because, remember, no one would want me except for one thing. I wasn’t of any value to anyone unless they could use me sexually, so naturally that must have been the reason he was good to me.
When he told her that she would need to get a job if she wanted to continue spending outside of their budget, she left him. She said, “I’m not going to work and be married!” In an instant, it was midnight. My coach became a pumpkin, and I went back to rags.
By that time my biological dad was disinterested in me and wouldn’t take me on the weekends unless he needed me to clean his filthy house. My former step-dad felt bad for me because my dad still took my brother, and he knew my mom didn’t want me around either. He felt bad that I had no place to go on the weekends, so he fixed up one of the bedrooms at his house for me. When my dad took my brother, my fairy godfather took me. Awww, it was bliss to be back in his house, even for just two days.
He died a year after my mom left him, and my life spiraled downward again. I spent the rest of my youth in the cinders. Actually, I spent the rest of my life in the cinders, sold off to an evil man just to rid my mother of having to be bothered by my presence. Or, perhaps for her to delight in my misery. I don’t really know.
So, you see, when my son prays for that kind of a step-dad I don’t stop him. I joke about the chocolate husband covered in money, but I know those kind of men do exist. There are genuine, loving, generous men out there with honest intentions and pure hearts. I was loved by one once. He was my very own fairy godfather who changed my life for awhile with his magic.