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Now that my son’s 40, maybe …

How would you complete this sentence? Now that my son’s 40, maybe he will …

Well, I’m  sure you came up with a number of good choices, but the winning answer is this, “maybe he’ll now pay me back.”

I really never thought about that possibility when my son Malachi turned 40 this past Friday. The thought is kind of intriguing. Then my daydreams turned into flashbacks, one flashing in after another, like the grand finale of a fourth of July fireworks show.

“Dad,” he said one day right out of the clear blue, “let me borrow two dollars. I’ll pay you back.”

That was when he was about two. That was the first of the flashbacks.

Fifteen years — and a thousand visits later — he came to me again. But I was braced and ready for him:

“Dad, can I borrow $25? I’ll pay you back.”

“What do you mean you’ll pay me back?  How old are you, son?” “You know how old I am.”

“That’s not the point. How old are you?”

“I’m 17  going on 18.”

“Seventeen going on 18. And how many times have you borrowed money from me for the past 17 going on 18 years?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take a wild guess.”

“I don’t know, Dad.”

“Jus’ take a swing at it.”

“I said I don’t know.”

“Well, let me do it for you.”

I pulled out my little book in my back pocket and flipped through the pages.

“Son,” I said, “according to my records, you’ve borrowed $400, 917 over the past 17 going on 18 years.”

“No way,” he said.”

“Do you want to see the book?”

“I don’t need to see the book.  You haven’t even made $400,000, and whatever else you said the past 17 years.”

“That’s the point,” I exclaimed. “That’s the whole point. You’ve borrowed money I haven’t even made yet.  And every time you borrow money, do you know what you say? You say, ‘Dad, I’ll pay you back.’ Do you know how many times you’ve said, ‘Dad, I’ll pay you back.’?”

“How many?”

“According to my records,” I said as I watched my son roll his eyes, “you’ve said it 611 times. And do you know how many times you’ve actually paid me back?”

“Ten?”

“Lower.”

“Six?”

“Lower.”

“Three?”

“Keep going.”

“One?”

“You’re getting close. You’ve paid me back exactly zero times in those 17 going on 18 years.”

“So, Dad,” my son said, growing impatient, “are you going to let me borrow the $25?”

“Only if this time you promise to pay me back.”

“Dad, I promise.  I’ll pay you back tomorrow.”

I gave him that strange look I use in times like these.

“How are you gonna pay me back tomorrow if you don’t have any money?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said, “I’ll borrow it from Mom.”