I picked Oldest up at work yesterday and as he dropped into the passenger seat he declared, “I think the camp may be falling apart.”
“Really? How so?”
He launched into a long litany of complaints: a parent who had seemed nice had actually complained about the counselors sitting while her darling son waded in the water, the rich club members are all rude, management came down hard on the staff and rebellion was in the air.
“I think two counselors are going to be fired,” he said gloomily “and if that happens others will quit.” He paused and with a quick glance my way blurted out, “If they get fired, I’m gonna quit.”
Remember my restraint of, could it have been, just the day before?
I responded automatically, “No you’re not. You are not going to quit.”
“Oh yes I am.”
“You are not going to quit that job and do nothing all summer.”
“But I haven’t been able to do any of the reading or things I want to do this summer since I have this stupid job.”
“Well, guess what? That’s what people do in the real world. They figure out how to work and have hobbies and see their friends – all at the same time.”
He lapsed into sullen silence. We drove home and, after a refreshing nap, he left for his usual night out on the town.
He did not return until 2:59AM. I know. I was awake while the awful glowing numbers came into focus. I did not go to sleep again for quite some time. I was worrying. I was ruminating. I was plotting and planning. Oh, and I threw in a little catastrophizing just for good measure, cause, well, that’s the way I roll.
It went something like this: “It is THREE O’CLOCK in the morning. He has to be up at SEVEN. That is FOUR hours of sleep. He will probably sleep through his alarm and be late for work. I wonder if I should I wake him up tomorrow or let him sleep through his alarm clock? If I do succeed in waking him up, he will certainly fall asleep on the job and some child will get horribly sunburned or wander down the beach, or worse, into the ocean, on his watch. He will get fired. He will be happy to be fired and spend the rest of the summer doing nothing, never return to school, not be able to get another job due to the lack of recommendation or – WORSE – the criminal record he will have due to his nap-induced negligence and end up in a series of meaningless jobs, each worse than the next until he finally ends up like that guy we saw on the way home today, the one shuffling across the freeway with his bare feet so dirty that it actually looked as if he had shoes on, and his ragged clothes hanging limply off his body. I wonder if I should I wake him up tomorrow or let him sleep through his alarm clock? And while I’m at it, what can we do if he quits? He’s over eighteen. We can’t force him to work. Or can we? I wonder if I should I wake him up tomorrow or let him sleep through his alarm clock?”
Meanwhile Oldest was fast asleep, dreaming and sweetly oblivious to my dire ruminations.
I finally fell asleep, and when I emerged from my room the next morning, at 7, still unsure of whether or not to wake him (yes, I know the “mother less” answer to that question), I found him awake, standing no less, and in the kitchen pulling a Starbucks Double Shot Espresso with Cream out of the fridge. (This, by the way, is proof that my children do not read my blog. He clearly did not get my Boycott Starbucks memo.)
He went off to work, did not get fired or quit, and came back to report at the end of the day that indeed one of his compatriots had quit but that things had settled down. They had given the kids hayrides with a tractor on the beach and the kids had spent the entire time staring at the sand.
And all that motherly worrying in the middle of the night? The worrying that went on and on as the glowing numbers on my alarm clock clicked rhythmically over and over?
I want that time back.