It’s called spring break for a reason. A trip home from college for my son breaks my psyche, sanity, REM sleep cycle and mostly, my pantry.
On the flip side, he does sometimes come in handy. My father needed assistance to get to a doctor’s appointment, and my son delivered him there, but then went shopping. He called me three times at work during this time. Obviously, because my father was obtaining medical attention, I assumed it was an emergency.
“What, Nick? What’s wrong with Grandpa? Is he OK?”
“Yes, Maria. Calm down. But I need to know, with my new hair cut, would I buy hair gel, pomade or paste? Are they the same thing? Which is better?”
I hung up on him.
Now that he’s of legal drinking age, all bets are off. He’s like a butterfly that no net can catch. Off to the clubs! Off to the bars! Casino? You betcha!
He returned home from Mohegan Sun at 2:45 one morning, snapped on my light and flung himself onto the bed.
“I won! I won! I’ve never won anything in my life! (He forgets he won the Parent Lotto). I won $300 and I am giving you $100!”
“Nicholas, take this back. You need it, you know, to buy your own food …”
“No! It’s like free money! It’s yours!”
I was so tired and disoriented, I neglected to ask how he won the money. Or maybe I was afraid to ask.
The next day, he and my car went MIA. My calls to him went straight to a voicemail box that has never even been set up. I was in a panic. Finally, at 3 that afternoon, his friend texted me a photo. Of my son’s shoulder. Sporting what looked to be a doodle in bright Sharpie colors of screaming red and blue.
Upon closer inspection, I realized it was indeed his shoulder and it was gleaming with a brand, spanking new tattoo.
Mother. Of. God.
Did I mention he is breaking my sanity?
He eventually sprang into the house and uncloaked the masterpiece. There before me stood a (very colorful) homage to his grandfather, who passed away last year. What could I say? This kid is very, very crafty. He knew I would accept this tattoo unconditionally if it paid tribute to one of his favorite people in the whole world. Besides Danny DeVito. And I should thank God the tattoo was not of Danny DeVito, because that was a real conversation once.
Me, sighing in resignation: “Nice, Nick. Very … red and blue.”
Him, delighted: “I love it! Now I need you to help me wash it and apply A&D ointment.”
This is what I’m talking about. It’s all fun and games and no one needs Mama until they require tending to fresh ink. My job is never done.
I washed that stupid thing, and he squealed like a little girl.
Then I applied the ointment, of which he complained I put on too thick a layer. Apparently this tat stuff is a science.
I had a flashback.
“Nick, you know what this reminds me of? Taking care of your little pee-pee and circumcision when you were born! You whined a lot less then, though. Like, a LOT less.”
“Please, don’t talk about that! You’re making me very uncomfortable.”
“Where did you get the money for this tattoo, anyway?”
“My casino money! Oh, and I had to take back that $100 bill I gave you. Sorry. Heh heh.”
“Nick, you’re bad.”
“But, good-bad, right?”
Spring break 2016.
Hair pomade, casino cash, a tat and good-bad.
I can’t wait for summer break.
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.