After his mother’s accident, the boy takes on the role of an adult and becomes in charge of the house while his father is in military service.
Arlo was six years old when his mother Lara found love again with John, a man infinitely devoted to his country. John was a soldier, and when Lara married him, she thought he would be enough to raise her naughty little son to be a good man with strict rules and discipline.
Arlo was spoilt and made scandals out of almost everything. He quarreled with his little sister Maya over sweets, pulled her pigtails, and asked her to fight! What Arlo did was funny and annoying at the same time. Everyone shouted at him, but immediately quieted down when they saw his big brown eyes and heard him say, “I’m sorry, it was a mistake! I won’t do it again!”
After the wedding, Lara and her two children from a previous failed marriage moved in with John. Two years passed happily ever after, but after John began to feel jealous of the love between his wife and adopted children, things went downhill for the family.
Arlo, who was eight at the time, began to notice changes in his stepfather’s behavior. John scolded him if he didn’t give him the TV remote or if he laughed with his mother in the kitchen.
“When I was your age, I learned to help my parents. I did all the housework. Look at you. Your mother spoiled you so much,” he often said to little Arlo, who could do nothing but lower his head and look at his mother with big, pleading eyes.
The boy often thought, “What the hell is wrong with my father?” but he ignored it and did what children his age did, like listening to music or riding rollerblades or bicycles.
Day by day John’s cold behavior towards his family, especially his children, worsened. He stopped taking care of the children and did not take any part in their upbringing. As Lara worked in a private bank, he accused her of bringing them up alone. It wasn’t that John was running away from his responsibilities as a family man. But he just wasn’t prepared to do anything for his wife and children. He loved Lara, but he was not mentally ready to accept children.
Although Lara was unhappy about the change in John’s behavior, primarily toward her son, she couldn’t say anything. She feared he would leave her like her ex-husband, and living without him was the greatest anxiety that haunted her. Lara did not want to take that risk again and silently tolerated John’s coldness.
One day John was urgently called to a military base. Lara knew how much her husband loved his country. Although she was upset that he left too quickly, she couldn’t help but pretend to be happy. She was worried about Arlo and his tantrums over being obedient while John was home. Now that John would be gone for a few weeks, she knew she would have a hard time getting Arlo to behave.
A week passed, and all seemed to be well with Arlo’s behavior. Lara was relieved, but soon another hard blow came upon her. She had broken her leg and arm in a minor accident on her way to the bank and panicked when the doctors recommended bed rest for several weeks.
“How am I going to cook for my kids? I can’t take them to school in this condition. They have exams next week,” she cried, unaware that Arlo was watching her from the doorstep, making a plan in his head.
The next morning Lara awoke to something burning in the kitchen. Grabbing her crutches, she rushed to check and saw burnt toast popping out of the toaster.
“Arlo, honey, what’s going on?” she alarmed, making her way through the smoke.
“Mommy, what are you doing getting out of bed? I was making breakfast. I’m not going to school today. You need to get some rest. I’ll take care of it.”
“But honey… where’s your sister?” Lara panicked when she didn’t see Maya.
“I walked her to the bus stop and stayed there until the school bus picked her up. She’s at school now.”
Lara was stunned. For a moment he didn’t seem like the naughty boy who kept bugging her. It was funny. Guilt, joy, and sadness came over Lara when Arlo broke the silence again.
“Mommy, here’s your breakfast. Warm milk. There are scrambled eggs. And toast!”
Lara couldn’t keep from laughing. “You’re becoming a grown man! I’m impressed. But I can give you my attention, okay? Be a good boy and get ready for school.”
But Arlo wasn’t listening.
“No, I’m not going. I’ll stay home and take care of you,” he said.
Lara was too exhausted to argue with her son. She kept urging him to go to school and not miss his exams, but Arlo remained adamant.
“Mom, if you love me, please let me do this for you,” he emotionally cornered her.
It was a sweet threat, and Lara could not refuse him, but insisted that she would only let him help her if he went to school.
“That goes for you too, young man! If you love your mother, you will be a good boy and go to school. Only then will I let you do all that. Okay?” She managed to convince him.
Arlo agreed and went to school the next day. He shuttled back and forth between school and housework like an adult. He fixed loose screws on the door like a professional mechanic. He made breakfast from recipes in his mother’s cookbook. The dishes Arlo made lacked flavor. Some were overcooked and burnt. But it was all done with love and care.
He did laundry, mowed the lawn every weekend, and even learned to braid his sister’s hair. Lara was touched, and one day when Arlo was busy working, she took a video of him and sent it to her husband, hoping he would be impressed, too.
“You didn’t say anything. Look, our son is acting like an adult. I’m so proud of him. He’s already becoming a little family man!” – Lara exclaimed to John over the phone.
“Yeah, whatever. I’ll be right back. We’ll talk later,” he replied coldly. Lara was offended, but didn’t give it much thought, figuring her husband was busy.
A few weeks later, John came home and saw Arlo mowing the lawn. He looked at him with a disappointed look. He didn’t greet him or praise him. Arlo’s efforts did not please him at all, and it showed. Arlo paid no attention to his stepfather’s behavior because he didn’t expect anything different.
John’s cold attitude hurt Lara. She thought he would at least appreciate her son and be kind to him, but she was wrong. John’s insults about the lack of sugar in his coffee shattered the boy’s dreams.
“You haven’t learned anything, you little devil. You don’t even know how to make coffee,” he shouted, pouring the coffee down the sink.
At this point, Lara lost her patience and stood up for her little boy.
“Stop it, John. Be good to my son. If you don’t show kindness, don’t expect him to do anything for you. He is our son, not your servant.”
John’s ego was hurt. “Ah, you think you can do without me? When your little son does everything for you, don’t you?” – he objected.
“I thought I couldn’t do anything without you, but my son has given me confidence!” – said Lara.
The day ended badly, and Lara was forced to think about the future of her children. She could no longer allow John to be rude and unkind to them and made a difficult decision.
“Really? Is that what you want to do?” John grimaced as Lara handed him the divorce papers a few days later. After another difficult period in their relationship, she divorced John and moved back into her old house with the children.
Lara was ashamed that this man had been rude and unkind to her children. She knew it would be difficult, but she was sure that her little Arlo would always be there for her and his sister.