Welcome home. Now take out the garbage.

My darling teen is home from camp, and everything is back to normal again.

Check-out started at 9:00 a.m.  It’s a 3 hour drive from where we live. Do the math. I’m not a morning person. When my husband suggested that might be a little early, my son suggested that he leave me behind. “She’ll be grateful,” he said. “Think of all the work she could get done.” I have a feeling he wasn’t imagining me writing. “If you drive fast enough, we can be home before she even wakes up.”

I agreed to get up at 4:30 so we could beat the traffic. Such is a mother’s love. I even stayed awake in the car. I asked my son to please take a shower in the morning. Three hours in an enclosed space is a long time with a funky child. It would be a long enough trip. A recap of the four-week imprisonment was a given.

The traffic turned out to be “the traffic” and we got there at 8:00. I texted to warn my son that we would be on campus soon, but got no answer, as his phone was still in camp lockup. When we got there, even the counselors weren’t set up, so we ventured towards his dorm. The lobby was crowded with luggage and teenagers, mostly girls, hugging and crying and signing each other’s books. We made our way to his room. The boy’s hall, in stark comparison to the lobby, was empty and quiet.

When we got to his room, we knocked on the door, expecting he’d fling it open, ready to go. My son’s roommate opened the door, clearly half-asleep. I could see my son spread eagle on his bed, face down. No snoring, but my guess is drooling might have been involved. I can’t describe what the room smelled like after no air conditioning and two weeks of 100 degree temps and two boys.

So what was his joyful response upon seeing his parents for the first time in a month? “You said 9:00. It’s only 8:00.”

I got up at 4:30 for this? I’m a hopeful sort, but not an idiot, so I knew better than expect a hug. He’s 15 after all. I got a fist bump. That works for me. When he offered the same fist to his Dad, that is when I noticed the lack of height difference between them. He’d grown at least two inches since he left.

“You grew.”

“Yeah.” He smiled a little. “I need new shoes. I also need to shave.”

He has a little bit of fuzz over his lip. Not much, and he’s so blond you can barely see it. Nevertheless, he’s proud. “Dad can show you, unless you want silky smooth legs.”

“Mom!” I’m not sure which is worse–the mental picture of a mother with shaved legs, or hairy ones. I decided not to have him elaborate.

We make our way out of the boys hall, saying adios to this camp that made him so miserable, this place he begged us to rescue him from every time we spoke. This circle of hell designed to torture teens for putting off looking at options for summer activities, making their parents do it for them.

The minute we reached the lobby, it began. SQUEEEEEE!” A pretty girl with long dark hair shouted out his name. “Noooooo! You’re leaving?”  He shuffled his feet and mumbled something unintelligible. “Text me!”  The girl hugged him and he halfheartedly responded.

This happened three times. He was so busted.

I wasn’t totally surprised. The camp blog had pictures showing Jonah playing basketball with a pack of dudes, just like at home, but there was a gaggle of girls in observance. Yup, he was suffering.  It wasn’t just girls. He lied. He had friends.

“See you bro.”

“Have a great life.”

We loaded up the car and he got in the back seat.

“Sure you want to leave?” He rolled his eyes. “It’s a shame that you didn’t make any friends.”

He leaned forward and draped his arms over my seat. “I’m glad you came.”  He gave me a squeeze. I want it noted for the record that he initiated contact. We drove off, and he barely looked back.

“I got up at 4:30. I want credit for that.”

“Whatever. Please don’t stop for anything.” I think of all of those trips when he was a toddler and we had to stop every 45 minutes for some reason or another. “And make that spinach-potato-egg thing when we get home.”

“Anything else?”

He was too busy texting to answer.

“So Dude. Who’s the girl?”

He smiles. “I haven’t listened to music in a month. I’ll just put in these headphones so it won’t bother you.”

I hear the tinny beat of rap through his headphones. He’s still smiling. I’m hoping he’ll tell me about it later. Ha ha. hahahahaha. It’s good to have things back to normal.

Behind every good mother is a child, pushing her buttons. Visit Momaiku!

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Snugg LePup

2 comments on “Welcome home. Now take out the garbage.

  1. Veronica Roth says:

    Brilliant Jeanine! Smiled thru the whole post; you’re such a good writer, I should tell you more often. So sweet that he reached forward. I bet every mom who reads that will have a little sigh.

    • Thank you Veronica! You’ve made my day. And you are a talented artist in so many media. I should tell you more often. I was just appreciating your pictures from Art in Action this morning and pulled out my camera to experiment. I haven’t touched it in years. You’ve inspired me to get visual 🙂

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