Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly… and sometimes, Mothers have to turn it over to the Fates.
So when my oldest announced/asked if she and a group of friends could rent a cabin for a couple of days, I said, “have fun. Be responsible.”
Flashback: my brother was the adventurous one. He’s the one who proposed our trip to California where, if we both took the class, we would get a discounted rate on“Bodyguard Training Bootcamp”. I had led a perfectly Polly Anna existence up to that point. It was time to sow some oats. So of course, I said, “when do we leave?” I put in my two-week's notice, quit my job, and "loaded up the truck to (make a run) to Beverly... Hills, that is."
Present day: So my oldest child (is it pertinent to state that this is a female child?) and a small group of friends, (also female), plotted and planned. They made lists of responsibilities. They divvied up meal preparation, they facebook chatted about the trip for a month. They arranged the cabin rental, (being too girly for camping, or even glamping), they scheduled time off from work… and I bit my tongue. I wiped sweat from my brow. I re-read my books on “Choice Theory”. I assured other parents that it would be okay. They were responsible kids…
Flashback: My brother, his (then) girlfriend, and I hit the road in a pick-up truck with a Coolwhip container full of quarters – a gift from my Mom so we could call home – and we drove from Virginia to California. It took three and a half days with one stop-over at the Grand Canyons. (They look fake.)
Present day: The day of the girls' planned trip, my husband took off work, so we could drive to the cabin ahead of the girls to ensure it was a safe place. The cabin was palatial by “cabin” standards: a fireplace, outdoor grill, wrap around porch/deck, rocking chairs, cabin furniture, one bedroom with two bunks (four beds for four girls) and another spare room with a queen-sized bed that would remain unused. I checked the closets for ax murderers. I mapped the location of the nearest emergency phones. (No cell service).
Flashback: My brother’s girlfriend, (later to be his wife) visited with her relatives in California, hung out on the beach with cousins. My brother and I sat in classes to learn about high-risk situations and worst case scenarios. We drove cars – really fast – from which we fired weapons. We spun cars 180+ degrees. We shadowed a small-time local politician and his family with loaded weapons strapped to our hips.
Present day: For two days, I had no contact with my child and her friends. I waited for reports of her safety and received second party accounts of text messages the other mother received from her daughter who did have cell service if she stood on the porch, on one foot, with her phone extended far out over the railing. I put my hand over my mouth in fear for her safety in simply imagining it.
Flashback: We drove home from California. My future sister-in-law had to fly back in order to get back to work on time. I had to drive, for four days, with my brother. We barely survived not killing one another.
Present day: I received a broken call. The fire had been extinguished, but the cabin was filled with fire extinguisher debris. No one was injured, but the place was filled with smoke – enough smoke that when windows and doors were opened, the elderly couple in a nearby cabin came out to ensure that the fire department didn’t need to be dispatched.
And for four hours, four young adults worked to clean the one-inch of chemical dust that covered the kitchen. That’s four girls, working four hours, or 16-hours worth of cleaning performed for two nights of vacation.
My oldest child is still in bed. She had to go straight from her “vacation” to work – where they asked her to come in early and work late. She did this gladly - probably for the rest. Why couldn’t my child want to do something normal? Something safe? Like Bodyguard Training Bootcamp? Why?