How I roll…

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?”

And on.

And on.

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.


10 thoughts on “How I roll…

  1. We all know that time spent staring at the digital clock through the darkness is gone forever. Why do we do that? Is it to devise a plan? Is it because we think we can run interference and keep our child safe?
    It just makes me tired the next day and more aware of my rebellious gray hair.
    I’m glad Oldest figured a few things out. And I’m glad you explained the concept of work so eloquently. I think it may have helped him put things in perspective.

  2. mizmell, I think it is because we believe that if we use our minds in just the right way, we can control our anxiety…
    slouching mom, enjoy your sleep while you’ve got it

  3. “Mothering Less” is a catch-phrase around here, now. “Mom, can you make me a pizza?” “Well, dear, in my Attempt to Mother Less, I will let you make your own pizza.”
    My kids think it’s funny, but truly, you’ve made me think about my need to control their experiences. My daughter is 21, so I get the worry of them coming in late, learning about how much sleep they may need to face a full day at work. But they can’t learn if they don’t experience some things. Remember that tale of the Native Americans who let their babies crawl toward the fire in the center of the teepee without stopping them? They know that they can either keep pulling them back over and over again, or let them crawl close enough to feel the heat, even get burned. Then they keep their distance from the fire.
    Maybe there’s a catch-phrase in there somewhere …

  4. My kids are so little still (My oldest is nine, but still. JUST A BABY) that it all boggles my mind – they’ll get jobs? they’ll stay out late? THEY’LL DRINK COFFEE?

  5. Oh God. And I just know that in about 15 years, all my political correctness will go out of the window and I’ll be worrying twice as much about dudelette. Of course, I’ll have had four years practice worrying about dudelet by that point.

  6. Hi Anna,
    I found you on Parents Who Click.
    I completely understand and sympathize with your late night worries and ruminations about your son. Here are a couple of facts I’ve memorized…not that they, in themselves, reduce one’s propensity to worry. But they do shed a light on that most common human problem.
    A wise man (Jonathan Parker of once quoted a study that showed only one-seventh of the things we worry about actually come to pass. An MD once told me that stress is caused by only two things: fear and worry. When you break that down, it seems to me that worry is actually just another form of fear.
    So it appears that a “solution” to the midnight worries is to give some deep thought to the fears that underlie the “what if’s” we ask ourselves. Why are those thoughts fearful? Are the events we fear REALLY likely to happen.
    Of course, that’s easier said than done once the mind begins racing. Anyway, I really liked your article and thought I’d share:)

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