An 8-year-old boy rests against his mother’s arm on an early-morning 2 train. His oversized Yankees cap slides over his eyes as he drifts off to sleep.
His mother is too worried to sleep.
She has two jobs: The first is at a diner on Chambers Street and the second is cleaning offices in Midtown. In between she has to get the boy to school and then back home where he stays with neighbors until she gets off close to midnight.
The boy’s father used to help, but he was killed two years ago in a Brooklyn building accident.
“My son wants to be a baseball player like Derek Jeter,” she says softly so the boy can sleep. “I tell him that he can do anything and his father will be proud.”
Other things are harder to explain.
“I am afraid of losing my jobs because business is bad,” the mother says. “My bosses tell me it might happen any day, but I don’t want my son to know because it will make him scared. I just keep telling him: ‘You’re gonna grow up to be just like Derek Jeter.’”
She straightens the boy’s Yankees cap and continues:
“That makes him smile,” she says. “And I smile, too.”