“Relax honey; it’s just a phase. All the kids go through stuff like this.”
Joan set her coffee cup down to avoid throwing it at her husband, hiding behind the morning newspaper.
“Phase? Are you kidding me? He’s 22 years old. The Mohawk in middle school was a phase. Bouncing around to different sports, was a phase, and I pray to God the tattoos are a phase but,” she glanced at the clock, “sleeping until noon every day is not a phase – it’s laziness.”
John lowered the paper. “You’re too hard on the boy, Joan. You know as well as I do, jobs are scarce right now with the economy the way it is, especially for new graduates.”
“The economy sucks, I agree, but there are jobs available. I see hiring signs on every corner.”
“You want him to work at McDonalds?” He rolled his eyes and resumed reading.
“I want him to get a job. Six months is long enough. When he isn’t sleeping till noon, he’s playing damn video games. Who does that at 22? What happened to all that drive and ambition we saw at the end of the year?”
“He’s depressed. Not getting a job offer during recruitment week, like his buddies, threw him; give him a little time.”
“I’m sorry he didn’t get an offer too, but he can’t mope around the house doing nothing. It’s time he started paying his way.”
“Come on honey; we’ve got the money, give him a break. He just needs a safe place to deal with the disappointment. He’ll come around.”
“Safe place? Have you lost your damn mind?”
“No need to shout. I’m two feet away. I can hear you.”
“Then you’re not listening. I have a newsflash for both of you – the world is not always a nice place, nor is it fair. I promised him an education but I sure as hell never promised him a safe place to hide from the big, bad world.”
Joan dumped the rest of her coffee in the sink, picked up the dishcloth and started rubbing the counters with more effort than required. “Safe place, my ass.”
“Excuse me? You’re mumbling.”
Joan threw the cloth into the sink. “John Andrews, I’m surprised at you. We didn’t raise our son to roll up in a damn ball when the going gets tough. You sound like some bleeding heart liberal. Safe place? Are you kidding me?”
John laid the paper aside, walked over and wrapped his arms around her.”No need to be insulting, honey,” he said kissing her hair. “Take a breath and calm down; it’s not good for you to get so upset. You’re right. I’ll talk to him.”
She turned to face him. “He’s a smart young man with a college education. I don’t want him slipping down the rabbit hole thinking the world owes him a living or that any job is beneath him. That’s not how we raised him.”
“Honey, he doesn’t believe that…”
She interrupted, “Then why isn’t he out beating the bushes? We won’t always be around.” Tears started down her cheeks.“I need to know he’s gonna be okay before…”
He pulled her close. “Ssh, don’t think about all that right now, I’ll talk to him.”
At the sound of footsteps, Joan pushed out of her husband’s arms swiping the tears from her face.
“Morning guys.” Their son entered the kitchen smiling.
Joan noticed the lilt in his step and the portfolio tucked under his arm. “Want some breakfast?”
He pulled a travel mug from the cabinet and filled it with coffee.“No thanks, mom; I’m good. I’ll grab something after my job interview, and if it goes the way I think it will,” he winked at his dad, “I might buy you guys dinner.” He reached for the door.“On second thought,” he grabbed a muffin off the sideboard and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Love you mom, and don’t worry. I’ve got this.”