You NEED To Pack.

Dylan is getting ready to go away for a week, as part of the Appalachia Service Project. He will be 7 hours away, working with other teens to help families in need.

He is leaving in two days.

I have spent the past two months getting ready. I have been faithfully reading the emails from those who have gone before him. I have scoured the packing list, and made sure he has – in the house – everything he needs. I bought a pump for his air mattress, a foam mattress in case he preferred that, four pairs of sleep shorts, a tool belt for his tools, work gloves, safety goggles, five pairs of cool-fiber work socks and steel-toed shoes in case he’s running a jackhammer and decides to sheer off one of his toes.

I bought him three new pairs of jeans, since the kids need to wear jeans for their work. When I realized he was going to trash his brand new jeans, I gave him old jeans that didn’t fit. Then my mother went out and bought him several brand new pairs of jeans, too, that were slightly less expensive so we’d feel better about him trashing them.

Then we gathered together a whole slew of old t-shirts from Dylan’s parents and grandparents, that can be tarred and stained without care. I pulled out ear plugs and a sleeping bag and necessary toiletries, along with cases and suitcases and bags. Bill charged up a portable phone charger, even though there’s no cell signal where he’s going, so he can take pictures while he’s gone. I got him books from the library, an inhaler from the pharmacy, and gave him my favorite visor and told him he could trash it.

I started doing all the laundry in the house, so he would have sufficient clothing for the trip. I wrote his name on everything: hammer, screwdriver, tool belt, water jug, all six work gloves. I wrote Hawkins so many times I started to forget that the word had meaning. The emails kept coming, and I kept sharing them with him – in the hopes that he would get excited for his trip.

Meanwhile, Dylan sat on the floor and texted. He played the piano. He sprawled on his bed for hours.

Dylan has been anointed “student music leader” because of his angelic singing voice. He needs to lead the group in song – three different songs. Dylan hasn’t yet learned the songs.

I asked him to do a few things: put your sleeping bag, pillow and air mattress into a bag. (He did this after the third request.) Label the bag. (It’s been three days and he still hasn’t done this.) Help with the laundry. (He’s done this. He folds like a professional!) Pick out the clothes you want to wear in the evenings. (He has not done this.) Read through the packing list and check off what you still need to pack. (He has not done this.) Get everything into a suitcase that fits. (Thanks to me, he is now on his third suitcase, but it is only half packed.)

I keep saying, “Dylan, you are going to be away for a whole week. You are going to have a space of six feet in which to maneuver. You need to make sure you have everything you need in one place. You need to take care of this. You need to pack.”

Instead, he sits there. He Snap-chats. He watches YouTube videos. He goofs around with his brother.

And tomorrow, Dylan’s suitcase goes into the truck – whether complete, or completely empty.


  1. Kirsten says:

    Good point! I won’t know until it’s way too late for me to hop in my car and drive 7 hours to remedy the situation… 🙂

  2. Glenn Sheay says:

    Well, if there’s no cell service, at least he won’t be able to text you and complain that he forgot something. 🙂

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