My Teen Son Got New Clothes & Headphones, Lied That It’s from Dad – I Decided to Follow Him

Cathy is bewildered when she sees her son wearing new clothes and listening to music through brand-new headphones. One day, she follows him, eager to discover where or who he’s been getting everything from. She’s taken back to her childhood when she sees who it is. Recently, I started noticing that my son, Alex, has been dressing up in new clothes that I didn’t buy for him. Yesterday, I saw a new pair of headphones slung around his neck. Honey, where did you get the earphones from?” I asked while making breakfast.”From Dad,” he replied, texting furiously. And the clothes, too?”“Hmm,” he said. “Yeah.” It made sense — Alex’s father, Ian, and I were divorced, so between the two of us constantly getting Alex new things, it was difficult to keep track. But even so, Ian was a practical man.

I was the one to splurge on things when shopping, not Ian. He always got Alex good quality items, especially clothing. But never name brands — Ian hated spending money on them, saying they were a complete waste. That’s why I was suspicious because all Alex’s new clothes were name brands. “I don’t know what to tell you, Cathy,” Ian said into the phone. “But it wasn’t me. Maybe he got a part-time job or something.” He’s fourteen,Ian. No part-time job would pay him that much.” “I’ll ask him,” Ian reassured me. “We’ll get to the bottom of it.” I’ve never wanted to be one of those moms who micro-managed every move her child made. But nothing made sense — Alex couldn’t have gotten the money alone. While washing the dishes after dinner that evening, I heard Alex whispering into his phone. Mom,” he said, walking into the kitchen. “I’m going to my friend Jeremy’s house to work on a project together, okay?” “Need me to drop you off?” I asked, wiping my hands. “No, it’s not far. I’ll walk.” A few minutes later, he left. This was my only chance to see if Alex was up to something. I gave him a head start but watched him from the window. Then, I grabbed my phone and keys and followed him. Two roads later, Alex got into an unknown car with a blonde woman. I couldn’t see her features well from where I was, so I had to move closer. Slowly approaching the car, I started to make out her face and a revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. I stood there, watching Lia turn her face in the car, hugging Alex. Although I hadn’t seen her in a long time, the blond strands of hair lit up by the streetlights framed the face I had known my entire childhood. The rush of emotions was overwhelming as I grappled with the fact that Lia, the sister who had disappeared from our lives long ago, was back — and entwined in my son’s world.

Backstory: Lia and I grew up close until we became teens. I had grown into a mini-version of my mother — always ready to take over the house and care for my father. But Lia had grown into a wild teen without regard for rules or safety. Straight after high school, she had disappeared with her boyfriend. Despite all our efforts, my parents and I couldn’t find Lia for years. The police told us that we could keep looking or continue to live our lives. My mother felt that she had lost her child and mourned for Lia. My father, on the other hand, gave in to his anger and felt betrayed by Lia. I kept looking for her. I made friends at the local police station and constantly checked on leads — but when Alex was born, I stopped looking. I finally accepted that Lia didn’t want to be found. But now, she was sitting in her car next to my son. I marched over and opened the back door, sliding into the car. “Mom!” Alex exclaimed. “What are you doing here?” “Lia, why are you here with my son?” I demanded. Lia stared at me with wide eyes. “You disappeared without a trace, and now you’re back, meddling in our lives through my son?” My long-lost sister’s eyes softened, revealing a complexity that mirrored the tangled web of our past. “No, Cath,” she said. “Not meddle, no. I found Alex on Facebook, and I reached out to him. I thought we could mend our relationship through him.” Her words hung heavy, rich with unspoken pain and an unresolved shared history. Then, of course, the floodgates opened. I sat back and cried. “You can’t just waltz back into our lives after all these years,” I said. “And Alex is not a pawn to help you fix what you left behind.” Lia’s gaze dropped, and for a moment, the weight of the past seemed to settle upon her shoulders.”Cathy, I know I messed up. I know I hurt you and the family, but I have changed. And I want a chance to make amends.” I didn’t say anything. I just sat there, looking at Alex, who had turned around from the front seat and looked at me. Alex, let’s go.” We walked home in silence. “Mom,” he said after brushing his teeth. “I like Aunt Lia. She’s been good to me. She bought me the new things, not Dad.” “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked. “Because you’ve been upset over the divorce, and I didn’t want to add to that.” “Oh honey,” I said. “That’s not on you.” “And Aunt Lia has been around, talking to me about it all. I didn’t know how I felt when you and Dad divorced, but Aunt Lia helped me understand it. I know you’re angry with her, and I know why. But she’s been a big help to me.” I went to bed thinking about Alex’s words. He had described the younger Lia I knew and loved — the girl who would drop everything to help someone, even if it meant just listening. And I didn’t know Alex was struggling with the divorce so much. It had only been six months. As much as I was livid with Lia for getting Alex involved before coming to me, I was grateful that she was helping my son navigate the world as a child of divorce. And I knew my son well. His eyes showed softness and love when he spoke about Lia. He loved her. And not just because she had bought him new clothes — she had listened and helped him when he couldn’t understand the changes in his world. I asked Alex to call Lia and invite her over the next day. I made her favorite cheesecake — or it had been in our childhood. And we sat and spoke for hours while she told me about her life leading up to the present. She was nervous about seeing our parents again but was also ready to discuss everything and make amends. I’m still upset that she did what she did. But I am grateful to Lia for being there for Alex — although she had just met him, he trusted her enough to open up. A few months later, we had two family brunches with our parents — who forgave Lia instantly. And it seems we’re all well on our way to fixing our family ties.

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