The Emancipation of Pepper

Of course everyone knows that a parent’s job is to prepare their children to go out into the big bad world and fend for themselves. I have come to terms with the fact that I am not that parent ….. so a bad parent then? Probably

So now due to COVID, Pepper had been locked down by his Grumpy Mummy for the first five months of the plague’s appearance. Thereafter, and when said Mummy allowed him to, Pepper ventured out and interacted socially. However, it was never enough for the one they call Pepper (and always too much for the one they call Grumpy Mummy)! So what with studying remotely last year, and working remotely this year, Pepper had had literally had enough of myself, Salt and the four walls of our house.

Poor Pepper, someone who relies so heavily on social interaction, had been virtually house bound for one and a half years.

So finally, and granted, it took a lot longer than I thought, Pepper decided as he so eloquently mentioned, he was ”outta here”. Of course, I did not totally take him seriously, as, among other things, he was not on leave, and had never taken such a bold leap. However, one day I walked in from work, and there he was, on his laptop booking himself a getaway. He had decided he needed to be working in another environment for 10 days…..”away from everything” ….aka Grumpy Mummy and Salt.

Needless to say, I refrained from asking the gazillion questions that entered my turmoiled head within the first three seconds. Pepper really needed this for his sanity, and perhaps he would love his family again on his return.

Now something that you need to understand about my children Salt and Pepper, is that they have done very little traveling in their lifetime. They have done even less flying, and they have NEVER travelled on their own! ”Why”, you may ask? Well, when in my right mind would I have allowed my children to venture forth without another adult….child….emotional support dog (for their mother) in tow?? NO unaccompanied travelling was going to take place on my watch….until now that is.

So naturally, I immediately go into complete anxiety mode, feel sick to my stomach, have in the first five minutes imagined absolutely everything that could possibly (and impossibly) go wrong….. on the way to the airport….. at the airport…..on the plane at the airport on the other side….getting to his new improved work space…..but through gritted teeth I tell him that it will be good for him and I hope that he enjoys himself.

So for the next couple of days, I pretended not to give a rat’ a** about his decision. But, being human….well, being me….I obviously CANNOT refrain from mentioning that I had hoped that both him and his belongings would be safe. To be fair, you need to understand how many times my Pepper loses his belongings………IN THE HOUSE!! So surely I cannot be blamed for having this miniscule concern??

Of Course there was the obligatory rooooollllllling of the eyeballs all the way back into his brain cavity, and the obligatory ”Oh Mommmmmmmmm”, followed by the new and improved ”can you see why I gotta get outta here so bad?”

Once I had picked my shattered feelings off the floor, I told him that I would not be worrying about him, would not be phoning him on a daily basis, and just wanted him to check in here and there so I know he was safe.

”Thank you,” he snarkily replied.

It was at that stage that I wanted to send him an Invoice for his board, lodging, education and emotional damages (self imposed admittedly) that I had endured over the previous 24 years!!

Anyway….I managed to behave as best I could, and said not another thing!!

A few days before he was departing, he asked if it was okay that I needed to have him at the airport by 4h45.

”Am I dropping you?” I asked, just assuming that now he had become all adult and independent, the trip to the airport would be handled by adult him.

”Well can you?” he icily retorted, with a tone that suggested I was a shocking excuse of a mother.

”Ummmmm, I suppose”, I replied, not entirely ecstatic about the fact that I would have to get up at sparrow’s fart to drop the soon to be emancipated Pepper at the airport.

Now the operative word here is ”drop”. Yes, I was intending to be dropping him off at the Drop Off Zone, as I was not about to be parking, getting out of the car on a faaaareeeezing Sunday morning at 4h45, seeing him to the check in counter, and getting my parking ticket at 4h55 in the amount of R 850 000. No…you want to be emancipated…I hereby release you!!

Again, a gazillion scenarios played basketball in my head about his lack of knowledge of the infrastructure of our airport. So I meekly mentioned that once he enters the airport, there are information kiosks that are there if he needs to know where he should be going. Reason being that on the very few occasions I have needed to be at an airport to pick someone up or drop them off, I get totally bamboozled every time. One might argue it is because I do not frequent the airport regularly, but if I drop someone off, and need to collect a week later…….still get lost. Not to the airport mind you. I know exactly how to get there. It is only once I am there, that I get horribly confused and lost. So yes….transferring my own angst onto my child……alright……got it…….nope cannot for the life of me imagine why my spices are anxious condiments.

So for the next Few days, I did not sleep very well. Knowing that I would have to get Pepper up and at it on time, which is virtually impossible, as he gets up, but not so much ”at it”….. drive him to the airport at sparrow’s fart, hopefully not get lost………leave him on his own, and then start worrying about him getting lost, and literally every scenario that could take place thereafter.

In the meantime I had. Sheepishly recruited Salt to come with me. Salt…..you know…….the only one with any sense of direction. In fact he could never have been somewhere, and he would find it a whole lot better than myself or Pepper.

So the night before, Pepper confidently informs me that he is going to get up half an hour before we need to leave for the airport. Mad child!! Generally it takes him half an hour to decide to go and shower.

Salt is different….he gets in and out..…you know..…like a normal person. So strategies were beginning to take place in my head……virtual worksheets were being drawn up!! Most importantly, Pepper needed to shower FIRST, so that we could be assured he was ready on time!

The night before I had instructed him to have his bags packed and READY, boarding pass, Identity Document and wallet needed to be all in one place, and with his bags. Other than us searching high and low for the boarding pass (NOT left with everything else as instructed), he for the most part did the rest.

Anyhoo we actually got into the car timeously, Salt was in a relatively good mood due to the fact that he’s done us this MASSIVE favour, which would normally involve a reminder from him every 5 minutes for, well…..ever, and off we went.

Approaching the airport I was so grateful that we had Salt with us, as too much information coupled with anxiety causes my brain to become complete porridge. I literally would have driven through the airport and got back on the freeway, if Salt was not there to restore calm and common sense.

After parking at the International Departures (as this is the first parking one comes across, and I always park there, so that I know I have parked, and there would be no further opportunity for me to get lost or confused), we walked a day and a half to the Domestic Departures. Once there, Salt told Pepper to go ask someone at the Information Kiosk where we needed to go.

“I think I know where to go from here,” I said proudly.

”No mom, let Pepper go and ask, he needs to learn,” said Salt authoritatively.

So, to my surprise, off trotted Pepper to go ask at the Kiosk. Never mind that he left his suitcase and WORK laptop bag lying unattended. Luckily Salt and I realised this, and went to stand guard! On his merry and more informed return, he pointed at his baggage and laptop, and with the facial expression one would have when pointing to dog poop, said ”what do I do with that??”

Now I am still not sure if that was his way of saying that he had carried the bag for long enough, and it was now someone else’s turn, or he genuinely was inquiring about checking the bag in. Be that as it may….Pepper cannot but look like he is disgusted with any ”menial” task he is ever required to do.

On my way home, while reflecting about the unnecessary anxiety I had placed on myself the previous few days, and contemplating the unnecessary anxiety I would surely be placing on myself for the following ten days, I was wondering how this child can be so confused when he becomes anxious or does something he is unfamiliar with. While reflecting, I missed the turn for home, and had to make a detour to get back on track.

Anyway, back to the question as to why Pepper is like that……..it is a total mystery I tell you….a total bloody mystery.

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