Barry watched as his son left his school and headed down the road. As expected, he wasn’t walking in the direction of their house. Instead, he was heading towards something far more dangerous.
Barry stood frozen, he watched wide-eyed as his son lay his bulging backpack down near the water’s edge. His heart was racing as he began to realize what was happening. How can this be? Why would his son do this?
Ken was a very responsible 8-year-old. His father, Barry, often described him as being ‘more mature than other kids his age’, which was why he was allowed to walk to and from school every day by himself.
So when he started coming home late, Barry knew something wasn’t right. But he never would have guessed what his beloved son was actually up to.
Like many small business owners, money was often tight for Ken’s father, Barry. But regardless of whether or not they were struggling, he always managed to give Ken a small daily allowance.
He felt it was important to teach his son the value of money. That way if he ever asked for treats or toys, he’d pay for it himself and understand that if you wanted something, you’d have to work for it. But Barry’s plan didn’t turn out exactly as planned.
At first, Ken would arrive home late by just 30 minutes or so. But now, a whole hour or more would pass before he walked through the door. When Barry questioned him about it, Ken would say he was playing with his friends. But Barry knew this was a lie.
It wasn’t until Ken admitted he had no pocket money left that Barry realized something was seriously wrong. If he wasn’t going to tell him, he’d find out himself.
The next day, Barry decided to take the afternoon off and go to his son’s school. He was going to follow his son to see exactly what he got up to after school.
After a month of odd behavior, he was desperate to know why he was coming home so late and why he had no pocket money. But he wasn’t expecting this.
Barry watched as his son left his school and headed down the road. As expected, he wasn’t walking in the direction of their house. Instead, he entered the first grocery store he saw.
When he came out, Barry noticed the backpack he was wearing now looked like it was bulging. Confused, he continued to follow his son as he walked, towards a lake that was on the outskirts of town. “What on earth?”, Barry whispered.
Hiding behind some bushes, Barry watched Ken place his backpack on the ground near the water’s edge, take off his shoes and socks and walk down the steps into the murky lake.
Then he bent over and started to hit the water’s surface with his hands. Barry was mystified. Suddenly, ripples began to form far out in the middle of the lake. These ripples were big – too big.
Barry watched wide-eyed, as the ripples seemed to move in the direction of his son who was still bent over, knees-deep in the water. Then Ken saw what his father saw. He shot up. His gaze was fixated on what was now bubbling to the surface.
Barry was frozen, his heart dropped as he saw the water’s surface rise. Before he knew it, he was running towards Ken, but it was too late.
The massive creature was swimming faster than Barry’s legs could carry him. Ken stood frozen in place, staring into the lake. Barry shouted at his son to get out of the water.
The surprising sound of his father’s voice snapped Ken’s head around. Confused, he looked around to see his father sprinting towards him. Meanwhile, whatever had appeared at the surface was now at Ken’s feet.
Barry imagined the worst as he finally reached his son and hoisted him out of the water. He set him down and immediately checked his legs for any injuries. Once he realized he was fine, he then turned his attention to the massive creature right in front of them.
In shock, he turned to Ken and snapped, “What were you thinking?!”.
“Why didn’t you get out of the water?”, he was furious that his responsible son didn’t react better to a situation as dangerous as this. But what his son then said shocked him.
“It’s not dangerous, Dad. It’s my friend”, Ken said. Then Ken began to explain everything. He turned to his backpack and opened it up. What was he doing? What was in his bag, and in the water?
Inside the backpack was a bag of shrimp. Ken had been spending his money in the most peculiar way; to buy fish for his new friend, a giant stingray.
Many fishermen fish in this lake and often toss their bycatch into its shoulders, which attracts a number of creatures that live beneath its surface. As it turned out, this particular stingray had grown accustomed to expecting a snack. But not only that.
Ken had managed to form a very special bond with this big creature as it incredibly, allowed him to pet him. Every day, Ken would walk to the lake after school to feed it with the pocket money his father gave him.
Although stingrays can be dangerous by using their poisonous stingers, they’ll only do so if they feel their life is in danger. Otherwise, they are typically peaceful and non-aggressive creatures. Ken showed his father what he did.
He opened his packet of shrimp and walked out to the water’s edge. Then he petted the friendly giant and tossed his food on the water. Once the stingray had his fill, Ken petted him again before he watched him disappear into the murky lake.
Barry stared at his calm son in amazement. It was pretty clear that the stingray meant him no harm. But not everybody thought so.
Once Barry posted his son’s incredible story online, there were mixed opinions about how safe it was. Some said that he should discourage his son from engaging with wildlife in the future.
Others, including Barry, commended him on his selfless desire to care for and befriend a giant scary-looking stingray! What do you think?