Sep 17, 2012 0 Share

Having Your Pizza and Eating it Too


Illustration of chef holding pizza.
iStockphoto

Last Friday night was Cameron’s first evening of paid employment with Angelico’s Pizzeria. On Thursday night, while Cameron was setting the table for dinner he said, “I’m really excited about tomorrow.”

Just because I can’t leave well enough alone, I had to go and (inadvertently) burst that bubble of enthusiasm by saying, “You know, now that you’re being paid to work there, they may expect you to pay for your food.” The look on his face was not unlike the time I told him that his gifts from Santa were really my doing. (For the record, Cameron was well into his high school years when I broke the news.)

Cameron’s reaction to the end of the free food made me wonder what his true motivations were for being excited about going to work. I wondered if he really got what this whole process was all about. When he came home Friday night, he reported that he did in fact have to pay for his pizza (good thing I gave him the heads up on that one, and spared his manager the “end of Santa Claus” face). He didn’t get to eat until 9:00 p.m. because the restaurant was so busy, but there was no complaining about the late dinner. In addition to his regular tasks of washing dishes and clearing tables, he got to put mushrooms in a barrel, and the gloves he wore for this task were apparently really cool. I asked if his job coach had been there, and indeed she had, but she did not need to stay for his entire shift. So despite having to pay nearly half of his evening’s wages for his dinner, I’d say it was an overall positive experience for Cameron.

The next morning, we were both in the kitchen getting breakfast, and I was muttering about pouring too much milk in my coffee mug and putting the wrong thing in the microwave. I could tell Cameron wanted to say something about my ineptitude, so I gave him free rein to say whatever he clearly was holding back. He grinned as he said, “There’s something wrong with your head.”

I responded by giving him a flick, and said, “Now there’s something wrong with your head. And yes, I’m a little forgetful so you’ll have your work cut out for you when you have to take care of me when I’m old. And you will take care of me, won’t you?”

Cameron didn’t seem to struggle with what I was asking of him when he said, “Yeah … if I have time ... I mean, yeah.”

Good boy.

I really like the fact that Cameron sees a future where he’ll have to work it in to his schedule to make time for his dear old mom. Sometimes it may come across as if I’m the one driving Cameron’s future. But in reality, Cameron is in the driver’s seat, and I’m just holding the map. I have no doubt now that Cameron’s excited anticipation about work was only partially due to the sausage pizza he had in mind for dinner. When Cameron first stated that his life dream was to own a pizza restaurant, I thought it not unlike a young child dreaming of being a rock star. I imagined reality would eventually hit, and he’d find another dream to pursue. But as this young man of mine begins to mature, I’m starting to see his determination, and I’m beginning to believe he may just make his own dream come true. When it comes to pizza, Cameron has a lot more on his mind that just eating it.