Week by week, month by month, I put in my two hours a day at Daddy’s insurance office, filing paperwork and folding mailings. I’d earned enough during the school year to pay the $500 required, but still worked Mondays with Pastor Jim to earn my part of the insurance on the Miata and get some extra cash. During my free time, Alicia and I went to the mall to window shop and look for cute boys to talk to. I managed to save most of my earnings, paltry though they were.
But when the cloudless skies of a Southern California August arrived, I was at loose ends. Things got slow around Daddy’s office. The last Friday in July he said I could stay home the rest of the summer. He suggested I use the time to pack for college. I figured I had plenty of time left and decided to take it easy for a while.
“Giselle, enough lounging about,” Mom said after I woke up at noon for the third day in a row. “All you’ve done the past few days is sleep and stare at that computer. You even missed church yesterday. Kirsten and Ruth got up at eight to go to vacation Bible school. Wasn’t Pastor Jim expecting you today?”
“Nope, he takes August off,” I said, turning back to the Internet word game I was playing. “And Alicia’s gone with her mom on vacation. I’ve been working hard all summer and I think I deserve a few days off to just enjoy being a kid, don’t you?”
“You’ve had a few days. If you really want to enjoy just being a kid, get off the computer,” she said. “There are so many other things to do.”
“I can’t think of anything,” I said. “Plus, reading really relaxes me.” Most of my computer time had been spent dawdling on social networking sites and keeping up with random blogs of interesting strangers.
“In that case, read a real book. There’s a whole shelf of them over there,” she said, pointing into Daddy’s study.
“Okay, just let me finish this game,” I said, hoping she’d wander away and forget about me. No such luck. She stood behind me and as soon as the game was over, turned off the screen.
“Hey, I was getting up!”
Her knowing look said she wasn’t buying it.
“Fine, I’ll see if there is anything I haven’t read yet,” I said and sauntered into the study.
Not bragging, but I’ve always been somewhat of a speed-reader. By the end of the week, I’d read most of Mom’s collection of self-help books. The parenting manuals and books on finance didn’t hold much allure, so I drove over to the library to get some lighter reading material from the young adult romance section. Mom kicked me off the computer if I spent more than 30 minutes at a time, but I’d sometimes get up after everyone else was in bed so I could catch up with my favorite websites.
Two weeks later, all of a sudden, the deadline to pack up and leave for college which had seemed distant and far away loomed large, and with it the dreaded day of my wisdom tooth extraction. With so little time left and so much to do, packing felt overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start.
Boxes of winter clothes Mom had ordered for me from her favorite catalog piled high in one corner of my room, and shopping bags full of dorm room necessities cluttered the other.
Mom got Ruthie and Kirsten to help me. We spent the afternoon loading up suitcases and storage bins, all the while reminiscing over funny family stories and singing selections from our favorite praise albums and family-friendly musicals.
Before we knew it, the afternoon light started to fade. Mom checked her watch. “Look at the time. Giselle, we’d better get you dinner. Remember, the dentist said no food or drink within twelve hours of the surgery.”
“Nervous?” Kirsten asked. “I would be.”
“A little. I’ve never gone under anesthetic before for one thing. And when Alicia got hers out at the beginning of summer, she was swollen up like a chipmunk and in pain for days.”
“We could pray,” suggested Ruthie. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Why did I never remember to turn to God first?
“What a good idea, sweetie,” Mom said. “Father God, guide the hand of the surgeon and give Giselle peace. Amen.”