I’ve been despairing my son’s sense of responsibility. I’ve yet to get final word from the school but I’m pretty sure he’s flunked his English class this year.
Last summer he finally got his first job at Panera. I say finally because he was almost 17 and digging in his heels to do it his way, which he’s done as long as I’ve known him. Anyway, he enjoyed the work at Panera, for the most part. Nights spent as a dish dog were his least favorite. As the months went on and school started back up, he kept working, but often complained about working Friday and Saturday nights.
“I never get to see my friends!” He told me.
Well, duh, welcome to the work force, I thought, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed.
A month or so later, I noticed he was attending Friday night football games pretty regularly. I questioned him about it.
He told me, “I asked for it off.”
Having spent time managing a restaurant, I may have looked just a bit skeptical.
“What?” He shrugged on his leather jacket, shuffling my writing assignments around on the table as he looked for the car keys. I’d dropped them in the catch-all box on the bookshelf when I cleaned earlier. I’ve only told him about it every day since I bought it.
“Have you seen my-?”
Looking over the rim of my glasses, I silently point at the box.
“Anyway, my manager said he’d cover it.” Fishing his keys out of the box, he was out the door before I could begin to articulate to him my personal teenage work experiences, all of which were grounded in denying myself pleasure.
At fifteen I started working at a local hotel cleaning rooms on the weekends. My mom told me I couldn’t work on Sunday, and I didn’t, for a little while. But as the school year turned to summer and tourist season hit, I turned sixteen and worked every of my available 20 hours. Then I went home and worked every other moment of daylight. I had five younger siblings to watch, meals to cook, laundry to hang on the line, floors to vacuum, beds to make, dishes to do, linoleum to mop, windows to wash, dusting, practice the piano, pick peas, beans, strawberries, raspberries, water the greenhouses, mow the lawn and rows of trees covering 8 acres of land. In short, I had a lot of work to do. As I sweat my way through summer after summer, I swore to myself that one day my life would be different.
Now as a new summer blooms under my bare toes, I’m happy with my prospects. Some time spent with extended family, a road trip, sunshine and lazy days. I’ve scheduled reading, daydreaming, and the perfect time of day to write. I’ve also scattered in a few trips to the reservoir and a stack of books to read the girls. But before I lose my shoes and join the frivolities of kids these days, I had one more parental thing to do.
I spoke with the school counselor, signed the boy up for a summer English class. He’s found a new job he loves at a local restaurant that has less demanding hours. He has a sweet little project car to sweat over. I’m told it just threw a rod. Joy of joys.