With coupons shoved in his overstuffed wallet, Howard was heading out the door for a run to the market. You’re thinking, Bravo! Your husband goes supermarket shopping. Au contraire, there would be no food or household items purchased on this outing. The market Howard frequents sells bats and balls, chest protectors and cups. Are you really surprised? Really?
Howard takes his sports shopping seriously. He goes from store to store looking for the best deal, and uses coupons to such advantage that even I’m impressed. Anyway, as he was leaving, I realized that Tyler was (yet again) in need of another water bottle, so I mentioned that he should pick one up.
“What happened to his last one?” Howard asked suspiciously. Tyler does not have a great track record for being responsible. I can’t be too hard on him. I forget people. He forgets things.
“It’s not easy to drink from.” I casually say. This was true. It was very difficult to drink from a bottle you couldn’t find.
Thankfully, he didn’t press. We both know Tyler is the kind of kid who can drink his water and then five minutes later genuinely ask, “What happened to my water?” That boy has his head in the clouds. It’s almost not his fault. For years we barely let his golden feet touch ground.
About two hours later, Howard comes home with, among other things – a bucket for balls, a new bat for Julius, astro-turf cleats for Tyler and a new water bottle. It’s state of the art. The price tag says $30. Now it’s my turn to be skeptical. “Really honey? Why don’t we just throw $30 in the garbage and tell him to just find a water fountain because that’s where we’ll probably be in a week.”
We take turns being the heavy. This time, Howard convinced me that it was fine, and that with his coupons he had paid closer to $20. Well okay then, if you say so. Turns out, a week was way optimistic.
Monday (About to get on the bus for camp.) – “Here’s your new water bottle. Don’t lose it okay? It was expensive.” Tyler nods absently. “Tyler?! Did you hear me?” Another vacant nod. “The water bottle.” I repeat and hold it up in his face and point, trying to maintain eye contact and using short sentences. “Don’t lose.” Tyler smiles his sheepish grin and nods. I think he heard me. I think.
Later (Coming off the bus) – “Hey, how was camp?” I go through his back pack, taking out a sopping wet towel. Oh no. I check the side pockets and go through it again. “Uh, Tyler, where’s your water bottle?” Vacant stare. “Tyler.” I repeat. “The w a t e r b o t t l e.” I really am afraid of the teen-age years.
He shrugs. “I forgot it.”
“But you know where it is.” I encourage.
He nods vacantly. I want to shake him. He’s too old for the shaken baby thing, right? “Bring it home tomorrow. Okay? O K A Y ?” Vacant nod. Sigh.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – Repeat Monday.
All week I say, “Don’t worry, we won’t tell daddy. Just bring it home.” Every day he walks in, back pack slung over his shoulder and an excuse cast from his lips. “I meant to, but we had to go to lunch.” “I was about to, but then we started a knock-hockey tournament.” “I had it, but then forgot it again.”
I’m writing it off, considering going back to the store to get another to save Tyler the misery of explaining to Howard how he lost yet another thing.
Friday – Tyler gets off the bus, walks directly to the couch and slumps over in tears. This is new. “What? Did something happen? Was someone not nice? What?” He shakes his head and finally lifts his arm producing, TADA, the water bottle. “Yay!” I almost clap, but just stop myself. “You found it. Great. So what’s the matter?”
He looks at me, tears welled and says, “I forgot my backpack.”