A Mom's Story
"The other day, I asked my sixteen-year-old Katie if she would vacuum for me. She turned, looked at me like I had just lost my mind" A deep sigh escaped as Glinda continued. "Katie stomped off, and the next thing I know Paul comes around the corner and says, "What did you do to Katie? She's all upset and says she is going to quit volleyball because of all the stress and she is going to fail her classes!"
"I stood there stunned, I just couldn't comprehend what was taking place." The room was silent as Glinda was collecting her thoughts and everyone else was thinking about their past week with their own children. In what seemed an eternity Glinda finally added, " I told Paul what happened, and do you know what he said?" "I am not going to be like my parents, Katie's job is school, getting good grades, playing volleyball, and getting into a good college so she can make good money when she lands her dream job. Dream job? She can't even hold a regular job! We haven't talked to one another since Wednesday. He says I am being unreasonable."
Mary cleared her throat, “Excuse me, but isn’t that pretty much all our problem? We have allowed this idea that our children don't have to have any responsibility except for school and sports. I asked my husband the other day, “how our children are going to learn that they need to work for what they want?” We are doing everything for them, and we give everything to them. I am embarrassed to say, but this started when they were young. We didn’t want a scene in the grocery store so we gave into them, and it just seemed to grow from there. You know, when I was twelve, I started babysitting because I wanted a bike and my dad said if I saved half of what my bike cost, he would put in the other half." Mary cleared her voice and continued "You know what I did? I went to every house where I knew there were kids and gave them a flyer that I was free to babysit. It took me close to six months, but I saved up enough money and I was so proud when I bought that bike."
“Sorry, everyone.” Sarah the leader interrupted. “The hour is up, this was a really good session and I think we all have a lot to think about.” Everyone began getting up and heading to the door. When all of a sudden, Laura ran in and as always, she was in her dramatic mood. What she said made us all realize that we needed to take this matter seriously. With great sobs, she began. "I was already running late when I hit exit fifteen, cars were backed up for miles. Some people were out of their cars looking South. That is when I saw the smoke, and I knew it was coming from the chemical plant." A small gasp escaped Kelly’s lips, that was where she and Laura's husbands both worked. Kelly's mind wandered back to the first time they met. How their husbands had introduced the girls to one another. Their friendship ran deep and their children were growing up together, they were more like family than friends. Kelly shook her head to bring herself back to the present.
"I turned on the radio to see if I could find out more, but all I heard was what everyone else already knew, the chemical plant was on fire." Laura was now shaking and crying, "Three counties were called in to help put out the blaze and contain it. There had been several explosions and casualties. I saw Joe and yelled for him. He ran over, but before the words were out of his mouth I knew." Laura's eye locked with Kelly's. "No, God no!!" Kelly turned pale. Bruce caught her before she hit the floor.
As she began to wake up, she felt the cool cloth on her forehead and her hand was gripped in Laura's. All Laura could do was look at Kelly, words choked in her throat; how could she tell this dear lady who had become like a sister to her that her husband, best friend, and father of her children was most likely among the casualties?
Laura and Kelly had heard on more than one occasion how this new kid they hired was careless and often times trying to cut corners and not following protocol when it came to handling the chemicals. He was not shy about letting others know that he was too smart to be working down on the floor, he belonged upstairs with the rest of the big wigs. He sure didn’t go to school to be placed with the “less educated.” He had been caught multiple times taking breaks when he should be checking and making sure the chemical gages were at their right range. One time he was caught dropping something into the wrong barrel because the right barrel was on the next dock, and he didn't want to walk that far, besides that wasn't what he signed up for. Complaining, dodging what he should be doing and being careless seemed to be the norm with this kid.
The plant was known for how the workers took pride in their work. The company was well respected and known for its employee relations and helping their own. One year as a tornado swept through the town and destroyed homes the company made sure every family that worked for them was taken care of. The company stood on what they said.
Six months later... As the reports came out it found that the newly hired young man had routed the wrong chemical to the wrong barrels. The two chemicals when combined cause an explosion like dynamite. With the main explosion, other chemicals were ignited.
Twelve men lost their lives that day including the young man. Over twenty were critically injured. The company began rebuilding in hope that it would be able to start up early next year, in the meantime, they are doing what they can to help the families that worked for them.
One man thought to be gone walked out of that burning building, no one knows how he survived, all he and his family can say is that God was with him that day. He and his wife Kelly knew they would never take another day for granted with their family and friends.
On Monday, a new session of the parent’s group was beginning and as always there were new parents joining. Laura started off and told how her children were given more chores, more responsibility, and Kelly's older children all were required to get a job during the summer to pay for the sport that each were going to be in during the school year. Paul had his daughter Katie join him once a week down at the mission to serve dinner and on Saturdays, they picked up trash at the neighborhood park.
"Excuse me", Sue a new parent in the group piped up. "Aren't you all being a little "mean" a little “old fashion?" Making your kids get jobs, do chores and take on all these responsibilities when they are in school?"
The room became quiet and across the faces of the seasoned parent’s small smiles formed. "Let me tell you a story." Kelly began,