They never pick up the phone when I call, or answer my texts in a timely manner. They rarely tell me where they’re going or when they expect to be home. When they do tell me where they’re going, often they change their minds and end up going somewhere else entirely.
They are exasperating and infuriating, and so inconsiderate!
Don’t they know I worry? That I can’t sleep? That as I lay in bed awake and anxious I hear Keith Morrison narrate their tragic tale in my head?
Just call, for Pete’s sake! Just send a text!
Yes, my parents have turned the tables on me.
When I was 15 my parents announced it was time for me to get a job, which I reluctantly did. Throughout grades 11 and 12 I worked every Friday and Saturday night at a local restaurant bussing tables. My shift ended at 11 p.m. and my curfew was midnight.
Tricky folks, my parents.
At the strike of midnight I’d race to the front door and quietly as possible let myself inside. If I was late, even by just a few minutes, I could expect to find my mom sitting at the top of the stairs with a disappointed look in her eye.
If I was really late I ran the risk of seeing my dad waiting at the top of the stairs, and there was always more in his eyes than disappointment.
I was only really late once.
I’m not sure when it happened — sometime after I grew up and moved away — that the tables turned. Now it’s me wringing hands and nailbiting. When I haven’t heard from my parents for a few days and they’re not answering the phone at home, I’ll call my sister or my brother, ask if they’ve heard from them.
You see, the problem isn’t that my parents are inconsiderate — far from it — the problem is that they’re so used to being the worriers and the caregivers, that they’re gobsmacked by the idea that they have a responsibility to periodically check in.
For example, for the past two weeks my parents — both in their early retirement years and considered by any standard fairly savvy seniors — have been on vacation. While I’d argue that once you start collecting a pension every day is a vacation, apparently pensioners require holidays as well.
Two weeks ago they hitched their trailer up to their new truck and hit the road.
I asked where were they headed.
“North,” was my dad’s answer. When I asked my mom the same question she responded: “We’ll call when we hit the Yukon.”
And away they went. A week later, true to their word, I received a text that read: “Got into Dawson City (Yukon) today. Must have picked up 50 pounds of mud on the truck getting here.”
And that was that.
Days later, my sister phoned and asked if I’d heard from them. I relayed the text, she breathed a sigh of relief and immediately stopped scanning the Internet for word of tragedy involving two free-spirited seniors.
It’s been a week since the Dawson City text and I started getting twitchy. A call to my sister revealed that no, they hadn’t been in touch with her. My brother hadn’t heard from them either, but being the brother he worries less diligently.
I called the folks, then texted, but as savvy as they are they occasionally forget that they have a cellphone, or they forget to charge it, or they accidentally turn the ringer off, or tuck it into their sock drawer so thieves can’t find it and leave it there — safe from thieves — for days.
And so I sit and worry and watch the Googles and hope for the best, and am fully aware that this may just be revenge for all those nights they spent waiting to hear my keys in the door.
Danna Bach is the Special Publications Editor. Follow her on Twitter, @DannaBach.