A Lighter View . . . Learning to "Let Go"

A Lighter View . . . Learning to “Let Go”

By Karen M. Morris

By Karen M. Morris

Freelance writer

We did something a little different this Thanksgiving. We still drove the eight hours to Kansas City, stopped at the world’s biggest truckstop on I-80, and had engine trouble around Des Moines…but this year, we left Leo behind…on purpose.

The senior line manager at the Burger Barrel scheduled Leo to work over the holiday. So, if we wanted to go to Kansas City and take Leo, we’d have to do it between midnight and 9 p.m. on Thursday. If you think it’s difficult traveling with a teenager, try having a 17-year-old stranger act as your travel agent.

We were going to cancel our trip, but Leo insisted we go. When I said I didn’t feel right leaving him alone over the holidays, he accused me of “not letting go.”

Leo wanted to cook his own turkey dinner and asked whether Kyle could stay with him. I agreed and then instructed the neighbors to do hourly checks on the house, basement, garage, bathrooms and closets…just in case more than one Kyle showed up.

I accompanied Leo to the grocery store and we got everything for his homemade meal. Boxed dressing. Instant potatoes. Canned gravy. And a self-basting turkey.

Before leaving, I wrote down how to cook and coordinate the food so it would all be done at the same time. I taped the instructions to the stove, roasting pan, patio doors, TV, bathroom mirror, chalk board, head board and keyboard.

I kissed him goodbye and reminded him of Grandma’s phone number and that the neighbors had an extra set of house keys. He silently mouthed the words, “Let go” and waved.

Leo was right. He wasn’t the little boy who used to be scared of sleeping alone during thunderstorms or going into the basement by himself. And thank heavens, he outgrew insisting someone stay with him when he went to the bathroom.

By the time we got to Mom’s, Leo had called twice. Before we got the car unloaded the phone rang. It was Leo…

4:30 p.m. “Mom, there’s something wrong with the turkey. It peed all over the refrigerator.”…“It’s thawing.”

5:00 p.m. “Mom. I’m going to get my car filled with gas.”…“O.K., son.”

5:24 p.m. “Mom. I’m back.”…“Glad to hear it.”

6:00 p.m. “Mom. Don’t try calling. I’m going to take a shower.”…“I’ll try to restrain myself.”

6:02 p.m. “Did you just try calling?”…“No, I’m holding back.”

6:54 p.m. “How do I turn the furnace up? We’re out of hot water.”…“Touch the furnace, and you’re a dead man. You’ve managed to empty a 50-gallon hot water heater. Don’t bathe for a few hours.”

7:49 p.m. “Just wanted you know that Kyle’s not here yet.”…“Isn’t he supposed to come tomorrow?”…“Right. So, as you can see, everything is going according to plan.”

8:36 p.m. “Where do you keep the extra litter boxes? This one is full.”…“We don’t have extra litter boxes. We clean the dirty ones.” “Oh. I gotta go. I need to get something out of the trash.”

9:59 p.m. “How can you tell if chocolate mint ice cream is bad?”… “It doesn’t melt in your mouth. Ever.”

11:00 p.m. “Is it O.K. if I sleep in your room? I don’t have an electric blanket.”…“I don’t have one either, Leo. That’s the remote to the TV.”

11:30 p.m. “Could you call me tomorrow to make sure I get up in time to

fix the turkey?”…”What time are you eating?”…“6 p.m.”

Thursday, 9:00 am. “You don’t need to call. I’m up.”…“O.K., I won’t.”

9:41 am. “Will pancake syrup make the cats sick?”…“You’re feeding the cats pancake syrup?”…“No. It’s a hypothetical question.”

10:00 am. “Kyle’s here.”…“Well, that’s a worry off of our shoulders.”

11:00 am. “I ran the dishwasher, empty. Kyle bumped the buttons.”…“Have him bump them again when it’s full.”

11:38 am. “We got hungry and made the potatoes. I’m keeping them warm in your fondue pot.”…“I don’t own a fondue pot.”

12:20 p.m. “The neighbors keep coming over and snooping around.”…”They’re lonely. Be nice, and let them look under your bed.”

1:01 p.m. “The turkey doesn’t fit in the oven.”… “Did you take the racks out?”…“They’re moveable?”

1:37 p.m. “The oven light went out. I think it’s broken.”…“It’s supposed to go out. It’s the temperature light.”

1:58 p.m. “I can’t find the baster. Is it O.K. to use an ear syringe?”…“No.”

2:12 p.m. “Kyle drank the gravy and got sick. Don’t worry. I made him go outside.”…“Keep him there.”

2:24 p.m. “We’re locked out of the house. Where’s the extra keys?”…“Have you read any of my notes, son?”

Leo called 54 more times before we left Kansas City. When we pulled into town, I decided to call him from the car.

“Hi, honey, we’re almost home. So don’t worry.”

“Please, Mom, I’m not a baby. You’ve got to “let go.”

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