Dearest Rachel –
I don’t know about you, but there were times in my high school career when I would stay out fairly late. For instance, Friday nights during home football games, we in the band would be there for the halftime performance, and generally stayed around to play something when our team scored or won (which, I’ll be honest, was rarer than any of us would’ve liked – our football team just wasn’t that good, although that fact allowed me to push back at a player who denigrated the ‘band fags’ like us by forcing him to compare accomplishments, and coming up woefully short). I didn’t go out afterwards very often, but when I did, my folks would be up waiting for me, just to make sure that I got home safely. There was the one night when the only one to greet me when I came home was our new dog, Fritz, who slept on my bed in an apparent effort to convince that one person in the family who wasn’t keen on having a dog, but that was the exception to the rule.
It was just how my folks expressed their concern for my well-being. It wasn’t as if they had slapped some sort of curfew on me that I had to abide by (although they usually wanted me to contact them and let them know how late I expected to be out, and if and when I might need a ride home); they wanted to know I’d gotten home safely. Who knows if things would have been different if I made a regular habit of staying out late; maybe if I demonstrated more often that I could be responsible and return home under my own recognizance, they would be less concerned. As it was, the fact that being out late was out of character for me might have been a cause for concern.
Then again, having a child who is known to go out partying every single weekend might be a cause for worry in and of itself, regardless of whether he or she could get home safely each time.
We rarely had to hover over Daniel like that. And I say ‘rarely’ simply because I can’t guarantee with 100% assurance that I can say ‘never,’ even though I’m fairly certain that’s true. He didn’t (and still doesn’t) like to leave the house, nor does he really enjoy driving (although that may have to do with driving your car, and all the psychological implications that might be attendant with that; I really ought to get him a car he can call his own, although I’d be hard-pressed to get rid of your old PT, for understandable sentimental reasons), so the idea of him going out at night and causing us to worry about where he might be of an evening was never really a thing. We also couldn’t look out the window onto the street and see him coming, like either my folks or yours could do for each of us, so staying up and waiting for him would be a relatively futile gesture. The closest thing to such a concern was when he would head back to his dorm at Judson University on Sunday nights – and that wasn’t even him coming home, but rather leaving it, so it’s not like we could wait for him there.
So I’m not used to the whole ‘concerned parent waiting for his kid to come home’ routine. Even if I were, Daniel’s ostensibly a grown man by now – at his age, I was already living in this house with you, and he was four years old. Add to that the fact that he’s out with Kerstin – who once again has taken it upon herself to play a quasi-parental role with him, and get him out of the house, thinking it will do him good – and I can trust him to be in good hands. Between that and his own theoretical ability to take care of himself, I really ought not to worry.
But it’s hard to not think that I ought to be waiting up for him, regardless. The trouble is, I simply don’t have the ability to do so. If it were the both of us waiting for him, it would be easy for one or the other of us to keep the other awake while we waited. Of course, if both of us were home, with Daniel even be out of the house in the first place?
Actually, now that I think about it, we might have encouraged him to get out from time to time simply for our own ability to be alone together. Then again, that’s usually why we left the house for a weekend or something. Between this, and our insistence that he eat his hamburger or pizza along with his vegetables, it’s no wonder we often referred to ourselves as the ‘anti-parents.’
Anyway, back to last night. Shortly after he left to meet up with Kerstin, I went out grocery shopping; the girls are coming over this evening, so I needed some ingredients. I also picked up something to eat for myself that he wouldn’t be so keen on. I did spend some time chatting with Pauline – I’ve tried to establish contact with Nee-san, but I’ve not heard from her since we spoke over the phone last week – and she’s surprisingly cool with the fact that most of my friends stateside are females from your orbit. Although considering who and what she may turn out to be, that’s probably just as well.
By nightfall, I was settled in the bedroom, watching videos as if he was still home here with Logan (I’m going to have to get used to that going forward, come to think of it). After a while, I decided to watch from the bed rather than the rocking chair, and climbed in…
…only to find myself slowly returning to the waking world at around 2:30 in the morning, after a dream of shopping at our local mall with an Afghan refugee who looked very much like a cross between the girl on the old National Geographic cover from a few decades back and a girl I knew from my high school days at Cornerstone, whose name was Melissa, and whose league I was decidedly out of. She was asking if I had had anyone over since your departure, and seemed rather pleased with my answer in the negative. I don’t have a clue what it meant, but I’m sure the blaring television made up the mall’s ambient noice behind us as we attempted to converse.
Having awakened, I reluctantly got up, and performed my belated ablutions before officially going to bed. Sure enough, Daniel had gotten home safely, and was as asleep in his chair as I had been in my bed. So there was no need for me to stay up and worry about him.
But then, there was no one to greet him when he came home, either. So I’m pretty sure I’m not doing this whole parenting thing right by myself, honey. Wish you were here to help me along.