I Am Not Afraid Right Now.
One morning, during the new semester in which Dylan had been doing so well, Dylan didn’t wake up in time to catch the bus.
I left his breakfast on the table, and packed his lunch box. I fed Shane, and packed Shane’s lunch box. We both waited patiently for Dylan to suddenly leap out of bed and come thundering down the stairs, but it didn’t happen.
Usually, I go straight to the gym after I drop off Shane at school. Instead, on this day, I put the dog in the car so that I would have to drop her off at home before the gym.
So I came home. Dylan was still asleep. I left him a note, and I went to the gym.
Before I even got to the gym, Dylan woke up and started texting me. He expected me to blow up, to be furious, to tell him how irresponsibly he was behaving.
“You’re just going to tell me I’m not responsible and take back all you said about how good I’m doing aren’t you” – he texted.
But I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even think it.
I thought, He really should use that new alarm I got for him a month ago.
“No,” I texted back. “Get yourself a backup plan. This is not the first time this has happened, but it doesn’t change what you’ve done so far. In fact, you should get up and get ready for school, feed yourself … and then start working on pre-Calc because you are going to miss that class.”
“Yeah I totally blew it you don’t think I’m responsible anymore” Dylan responded. He shot me three more texts, beating himself up even though I wasn’t berating him for anything. “I really hate myself right now,” he said.
“Stop hating and start doing,” I texted. “You only have to worry about right now.” I was in the locker room, just waiting for him to relax.
“If I do this with a job it won’t matter what you think they’ll just fire me,” Dylan said. “You always told me the future is the main thing I should worry about. You told me I’d never get into college or keep a job.”
He’s right, I thought. I did say that. And there’s a pretty good chance that I’ve been completely wrong with my approach. I was just so afraid ….
So that’s what I told Dylan: “Yep. I did. That was my fear. I am not afraid right now. Get up and do math. Read half a book. Be ready to go when I get there.”
Then I went to the gym. An hour later, I wrote a quick, truthful note to hopefully excuse him from missing his morning classes. Then I took him to school.
“Why did you excuse this?” he asked me. “Why are you being so nice about everything?”
“Dylan, you are old enough now to handle this on your own,” I said. “You’ve missed three classes, and you will have to face the consequences of that. You will have to make up that work. And you should figure out an alarm system that actually works. But it is not my job to worry about this. It’s your job, and you’re doing great.”
I kissed him on the head, like always, and told him I loved him.
Then Dylan went into school, just as the bell rang for fourth period.