A father’s greatest fear is that his child might fall into a predator’s hands. Single dad Ben Lessing imagined the worse when he realized his daughter came home late every day.
Ben Lessing was just 27 and one of the brightest and most promising software developers in Silicon Valley. He was working for a major company and earning a fortune, but he wanted more.
Ben had a dream, so one day he came home and told his wife of four years, Diane, that he was quitting his job. “How are we going to live?” she screamed. “And what about Susie? What kind of a father are you?”
Susie didn’t wait around to discover what kind of a father her husband was going to be. She ran off with one of Ben’s wealthy investors and left two-year-old Susie behind.
Ben threw himself into the development of his start-up and set up a playpen in a corner of his office. His employees and his customers grew used to seeing little Susie there.
They took it in stride when Ben interrupted important meetings to give Susie a snack or to soothe her when she took a tumble. Ben was a father first, and a businessman second.
Be aware and err on the side of caution to keep your child safe.
As it turned out, he was brilliant at both. His company took off, and when he went public four years later, he became a multimillionaire. Rich as he was, Ben’s lifestyle didn’t change much.
He lived in a lovely, comfortable home, but refused to buy a mansion. He still spent every second of his spare time with Susie who was now at school.
Ben made one concession: when Susie started school, he hired a driver to take her to and from school and to keep an eye on her. The man, David Oslo, came highly recommended, and Susie liked him.
It was David who picked up Susie from school and drove her to ballet, swimming, art lessons, and soccer practice. Susie seemed very happy with the arrangement.
“Susie,” Ben said one afternoon when his daughter was ten. “How about I take the afternoon off and pick you up from school myself today?”
Susie jumped as if pricked by a pin. “Uhm… Listen, dad, that’s just not going to work for me,” she said. “I’ve loads to do. David can pick me up, OK?”
“You prefer David picks you up?” asked Ben.
Susie shrugged and rolled her eyes. “Like… Duh…” she said. “Who wants dads at the school gate?” Ben didn’t say anything, but he was hurt.
Also, something didn’t seem quite right. The way his daughter had jumped when he’d suggested picking her up… It was almost as if she was hiding something.
That afternoon, Ben arrived home at 5:00 and saw Susie getting out of David’s car — two hours later than she should have. “Where were you?” he asked Susie.
“Doing stuff,” she said nonchalantly.
“What stuff, Susie?” Ben asked.
“Are you the police now?” his daughter demanded crossly. “MY stuff, PRIVATE stuff, OK?” Susie walked into her room and slammed the door shut.
His Susie had never acted like this before! Ben thought about talking to David, but he hesitated. David knew that Susie should have been home at 3:00, not 5:00…
He knew Susie wasn’t allowed to go to the mall or do anything other than her scheduled activities. So why hadn’t he reported it to Ben? Unless…
Could David be part of Susie’s ‘stuff’? Ben had seen too many newscasts not to be aware of the many dangers lying in wait for children these days. Could David be such a danger?
Ben went to his office and accessed the house’s security camera and checked the footage. Every day for the last two months, Susie arrived, then she and David sat in the car for hours. Doing what?
Then in one of the clips, Ben saw his daughter hug the driver. He was horrified and furious. He was going to put a stop to this!
The next afternoon, Ben hid in the garage and waited for David to pull the car into the driveway. He watched as Susie climbed into the passenger seat, then he approached the car.
He grabbed the handle and opened the door. Susie and David were sitting side by side, and his driver was holding what looked like a mathematics textbook in his lap, while Susie took notes.
“What’s going on here?” Ben screamed. Susie started crying as soon as she saw him. She pushed past her dad and ran into the house.
David stepped out of the car. “Please, sir,” David said. “Don’t be angry at Susie.”
“Explain yourself!” Ben said, curling his hands into fists.
“Two months ago, I picked Susie up from school and she was crying,” David explained. “She just couldn’t stop. So I asked her what was wrong and she said that she’d failed a math test. She said she was terrible at math and that you were great and you’d be disappointed in her. She was so upset that I told her I’d tutor her. I did advanced math in college, sir, before I dropped out.”
“But why didn’t she tell me?” asked Ben.
“Susie adores you,” the driver said. “She wants to please you more than anything. She didn’t want you to know she was failing math.”
“Was?” asked Ben. “Has that changed?”
David smiled. “Right now she’s getting Bs, and we are working on getting her first A.”
Ben thanked David. “Since you’re tutoring Susie, I’ll be giving you a raise!” he said.
Then Ben went upstairs and knocked on Susie’s door. “Honey,” he said. “It’s OK, David explained everything.”
Susie opened the door, her face swollen with tears. “I’m so ashamed…” she whispered. “I’m sorry, daddy!”
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Ben said gently. “I just wish you’d told me.”
“I wanted you to be proud of me!” Susie said. “And I didn’t want you to know I was failing at math…”
“Susie,” Ben said. “I am proud of you, and nothing could ever change that. Please, Susie, never hide anything from me again. Trust me, I love you, and I would do anything for you!”
Susie hugged her father and promised that she would have no more secrets from him, big or small — and she kept that promise.
What can we learn from this story?
Good parents are always there, always proud, and always supportive. Susie was afraid her father wouldn’t be proud of her, so she hid her problem with math – but he supported her when he found out.
Be alert to your child’s schedule and who she spends her time with. Rather be aware and err on the side of caution to keep your child safe.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
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