Sep 10, 2012 0 Share

How Much is Too Much?

Pile of dirty dishes with dish soap, sponge, and rubber glove.

As a parent, I often find myself walking the fine line between offering too much support to my children and not offering enough. I have previously confessed to the challenge I face when it comes to letting my children figure things out the hard way. If they fall down, I’m right there beside them, picking them up, and probably making a way bigger deal out of the fall than need be. That’s just the kind of mom I am, and I’ve learned to be okay with that. But now that Cameron is approaching adulthood, things are a little more complicated than just holding his hand as he learns to walk, and picking him up if he toddles over.

I’ve determined that the best way to prepare Cameron for life as an adult is through employment. He’s had an internship at Angelico’s Pizzeria for a year now, and has loved it. He had a less than fortunate run with paid employment at the Department of Disability Services this summer, but has picked himself up and is soldiering on. He is now working with an adult service provider to find long term paid employment. His last two periods of the school day are dedicated to internship, which might involve paid employment, but might not, depending on how the stars and moon align. Ideally, Cameron would be afforded an opportunity of paid employment that would take place during his internship period, with maybe a few additional hours during the weekend. Ideally, the job would be restaurant-related so that Cameron can learn some of the foundation skills he will need to fulfill his dream of owning a pizza restaurant.

The good news is that through the efforts of the adult service provider, Angelico’s has offered Cameron paid employment for four hours on Friday evenings. This would be a peak period, and Cameron would have more responsibilities than he currently has in his role as intern. Additional good news is that through the same adult service provider, Cameron has interviewed for a part-time dishwashing position at a senior living facility. I was invited to attend the interview with Cameron, and it all seemed rather promising. And even more good news is that through Cameron’s school, he will be able to start a brand new internship at a restaurant near his school. I had asked for a new internship placement since Angelico’s would now be paying him for the Friday evening shift. I thought it would be better if Cameron not mix unpaid hours with paid hours. Among other reasons, this would help Cameron stick to an employer’s schedule, as opposed to just going into work when he’s bored (or hungry).

All of this good news makes for a lot of new experiences. By new, I mean “unknown.” Cameron may well have three different employers by the end of the week.  At a minimum, he’ll have two employers. And he’s a full-time student, of course. If he were to be offered the dishwasher position at the senior living facility, it would bring on transportation challenges, as the facility is not in a hub of public transportation options. Cameron will adapt to new situations rather quickly, but I am a little concerned that I’m asking too much of him. I myself am stressed over the different iterations of his possible schedule, so I can only imagine what this state of flux will do to Cameron’s state of mind. The phrase “be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it” comes to mind. But as I ruminate over how far to push Cameron’s employment options and when enough is too much, I’ve shared my concerns with people close to me. The unanimous response to my quandary has been, “Don’t assume he can’t handle all this until he tries.” So, try I will let him, and I will remain within arm’s reach to pick him up if he toddles over.