“Where’s your raincoat, Erika?” I asked.
She had just come home from school. She was soaking wet. Though I’d asked the question, I had a pretty good idea what had happened to it—she had loaned it to a classmate who didn’t give it back to her. Every year when I travel to Atlanta I buy used raincoats for the girls from a Goodwill Store. The coats sold in Iquitos usually don’t have hoods and they don’t shed water well. So a raincoat from the States is a prized possession.
I repeated the question to Erika.
“I loaned it to a friend. And she …”
“… didn’t return it, right?” I finished for her.
I’ve always taught the girls in our house to share. The other girls in our house are good about using some common sense when sharing. Erika just can’t seem to say no to anybody when they ask her for a loan. One year I bought all the girls a new bicycle for Christmas. Erika’s bike didn’t last a year. She’d loaned it to a girl and the bike was never returned. What should I do to teach her to be more careful with her bicycle? I was still pondering the question when I recalled that when I was her age my mother used to get so frustrated with me about losing things.
“What am I going to do with you, son?” she would ask. “You’ve got to be more careful with what you have.”
Thinking of my deceased mother brought a smile to my lips. Sharing my smile with Erika, I said,“Come on, let’s go downtown to see if we can’t find a replacement for your raincoat.”