March 18, 2012: Run Forest, Run!

Ben ~ 12 years old

Ben just left for Day Two of his first job.  A month shy of his sixteenth birthday,  Ben has been quite excited about this first time feat.  He landed this job at a newly opened breakfast restaurant after much persistence in hopes of being a gainfully employed bus boy.  Instead he was hired as a host.  I do have to say that when he called in exuberance to tell me he got the job, I as a bit surprised that his initial role would be the host position.  The mother in me had a few pangs of angst thinking it would be a bit better for my free-spirit middle child to learn the ropes cleaning tables rather than throwing him onto the masses on Day One.  But as with many stages in parenthood, this one was out of my hands.  This one was up to Ben.

Yesterday morning began with a scurry of me trying to locate a birth certificate and Social Security card requested by Ben's new employer.  As I unsuccessfully rummaged through every drawer in the house searching for the elusive Social Security card, I could hear Zach (my college son home on spring break) schooling Ben on appropriate attire and tips on success at his new coveted position.  Ben seemed a bit nervous, but gladly accepted the sweater lent from his brother and looked quite nice and professional.  As I dropped him off, I gave Ben my final words of encouragement and advice (look everyone in the eye....smile...ask your boss how you are doing...) and he seemed ready to tackle this new adventure.

After Ben's departure, Zach went back to bed (I have yet to crack the sleep pattern of a college student) and I pondered whether I would go out on a long bike ride that beautiful March morning or go to the gym.  Although I convinced myself that I had officially "let go" as a parent as it related to this job and Ben, I chose the gym knowing that I would be more accessible just in case Ben needed to get a hold of me.  And once again, this mother's intuition was right on.  As I sweated it out on the stair climber, I was surprised by an incoming call from Ben.  This couldn't be good, I thought, since Ben had opted to leave his phone at home (the chronic and skilled texter knew this device in his pocket would be too much of a temptation and a habit that may not prove well as a paid employee).  Ben proceeded to ask me in a panic how to press his pants.  Huh?  He went on to explain that his new boss told him that pressed pants were a prerequisite to being a host and without this wardrobe detail, he would not be able to work that day.  Ben convinced her that with the close proximity of his home, he could correct the situation and would be back in no less than twenty minutes. That worked for her, so out the door Ben went and ran like lightening to my house.

I would say that the fire drill that followed was completed with fine execution by all parties involved.  Zach was the on-site facilitator, me the drill sergeant via phone, and Ben the willing student learning the fine art of pressing pants.  Although I believe more Downy Wrinkle Release was employed than the good old fashion iron, success was achieved with Ben making it back within his twenty minutes window.  When I didn't heard back from him as I finished my workout, I assumed no news was good news.  But even with this credible assumption, I couldn't resist a quick "drive by" on my way home.  It felt a bit like I was staking out the place as I drove by the restaurant hoping neither Ben or his boss would notice his sweaty mother checking in on the situation.  I was quickly put at ease seeing Ben busy at the front register and then reminded that no one else knew who I was, let alone the car I drove.  All seemed well in the world with no material parental infractions recognized.  Relieved as I drove from the restaurant to my house, I visualized Ben in his unpressed pants running like the wind to my house to make his committed twenty minute timeline.  The famous movie quote "Run Forest, Run!" flooded my mind with this visual along with a similar Ben experience from junior high. 

I am sure that Ben never knew that his inaugural junior high run in dress pants would pay off four years later.  This story from Ben's junior high days always gives me a chuckle as it is truly vintage Ben Lane.  This nonchalant child of mine never ceases to amaze me when I hear stories that weave their way back to me on the funny circumstances he gets himself into and how he responds.  Ben's first instance of pulling a Forest Gump was with the timed mile run that occurs in junior high.  Anyone familiar with this coveted timed event knows that every junior high kid is well aware of who was the fastest kid in the class during that spring in-school race.  Zach and his buddies would refer to the speed of Colin McCann and how he almost broke the school record for years.  The talk of the timed mile is the testosterone charged beginning of teenage (and later middle-aged/teenaged) male banter on the competitive nature of every event they are involved in (NCAA brackets, pick-up basketball, fantasy football, golf, beer drinking...)

When Ben reached the same junior high time frame for this event, I heard nothing from him; nothing before and nothing after.  One day as I was picking the kids up from school, the junior high track coach came up to me and asked if Ben could go out for track.  After I walked away from the conversation, I felt a bit like Ben was being recruited.  Hmmm...  As Ben and his friends piled in my car, I quizzed Ben on why the track coach had pulled me aside.  Ben's buddies immediately piped up to tell me that Ben won the timed mile.  "Wow, that is impressive, Ben.  Why didn't you say anything?"  I asked.  As Ben shrugged his shoulders, his friends went on to tell me how Ben forgot to bring athletic shorts and a t-shirt that day (which is a huge deal to these uniformed Catholic school boys as I recalled from my similar Zach years).  He ran and won the class race in his navy (overly starched and pressed) school pants and collared white polo shirt.  Ben thought nothing of it and saw no need to share such a thing.  It was just an ordinary day for Ben.  And yes, I did sign him up for track that year.

So fast forward to this morning as I am showing Ben how to use an iron and ironing board to press his khaki pants.  It is embarrassing to admit, but these apparatuses are clearly as foreign as a rotary phone to my second child.  He shared bits and pieces of his first work day experience with me.  I do wonder what all really happens in a day in the life of Ben Lane.  I am sure many interesting things occur that I will never hear about.  Thoughts of this make me wish he would write a blog on his ordinary days from his perspective.  I bet it would be a great read :)


Zach and Ben hamming it up as restuarant customers






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