Tucker sat beside me in the waiting area of the body shop as the (very nice and friendly) girl from Enterprise talked me through the contract for my substitute vehicle for the next ten-or-so days.
She had a playful banter with Tuck.
“You play baseball? ‘Cause with that hat on, you look like you play baseball.”
He beamed. And remained silent.
I answered for him. (I know I shouldn’t do this. I know, okay? I know.) “He’s not on a team yet, but he loves to play baseball with his friends.”
“Oh, yeah? Well, what do you play, little man?”
He spoke up this time. “I play basketball and soccer.”
“You good?” She had a gentle ebonic style with him.
“No, boy, don’t you go thinkin’ about it. You think too much, you won’t think good about you. You just answer. You good?”
She nudged his knee. He nodded.
“There you go. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. You just say yes. Because you’s good.”
She turned her attention back to me, her clipboard in hand. She gave me the wink parents give each other: you have a cute kid.
(Yep. I do. Two of them.)
Her voice was professional again when she spoke to me. “Ma’am, this section says you and your husband will be the primary drivers, so no one else will drive the vehicle.”
Tucker waved his hand in between us, a blatant, physical interjection.
“Oh, no, no – our daddy died.”
“What? D’you say your dog died?”
“No, our daddy. Our daddy died.”
I spoke for him again. “His dad died a year ago. That’s what he’s telling you.”
Tucker jumped back in to clarify. “She doesn’t have a husband, because my daddy died. So, you don’t have to worry. Nobody else will drive the car.”
Her eyes flickered between my son and me, then to the carseats at my feet that would be transferred into the rental. Yep. I have two little boys.
“I’m so very sorry, ma’am.”
“Thank you. Very much, thank you for saying that.”
“And I’m sorry to you too, little man.”
Tucker held her gaze.
Then she said, “Your dad would be very proud of you, little man. You a real good kid.”
He smiled his toothy grin. My six-year-old guardian, assuming responsibilities I never intended him to carry. I speak for him; he speaks for me.
I initialed here, here, here, and here, and she gave me the keys to the car that only I will drive.