I’m Petrified to Let My Son Stock Shelves Right Now, But I Have to Let Him

My son got a job at Target last fall. His intention was to earn money for his car insurance and gas. It was the first job he’s had aside from working with his father. Before he knew it, he was getting over 20 hours a week which included Friday night and early Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

He’s never missed a shift. 

My son has a job at Target. His job is essential and it scares me to think he might get sick. (Twenty20 @alinabuzunova)

My son got a job at Target and has never missed a shift

While many of his friends were hanging out with each other or attending their sports games, he was happy to be stocking shelves and earning money to spend as he wished. 

He’d roll out of bed on the weekends, head in for an 8-hour shift. I’d bring him his favorite lunch–a meatball sub–and get to say hello to him during his break. Then, he’d come home and throw himself on the sofa utterly exhausted from hauling around heavy boxes and keeping shelves full.

These days, there’s no plopping down as soon as he gets home. He walks in the door, scrubs his hands, and strips off his clothes which I then wash immediately. Then he gets into the shower. 

I can’t just drop him a text and ask him where he is and deliver a bag of fast food or a treat from home anymore. 

His job stocking shelves has become more than just a job

He can’t just roll out of bed and head to work, I check for a temperature, ask him twenty times if he’s feeling all right, and watch him for any signs of a cough or runny nose as he packs his dinner. He has a piece of paper he brings to work with him should he get pulled over for being on the road during this shutdown. It is proof that his job is essential.

I tell him to go to bed as soon as he gets home because I want to make sure he doesn’t get worn down–he’s busier than he’s ever been and customers are emptying the shelves so fast they employees are struggling to keep up.

Other than my trips to the grocery store and runs, he’s the only one who leaves our house to go to a public place. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t want him to quit. I’m nervous he’ll get sick. I’m nervous he’ll spread it to other people. I text him throughout his shifts reminding him not to touch his face and to wash his hands before he leaves and to stay far away from people.

I would like to protect him, but I can’t

But my son loves his job. He’s young, he’s strong and he’s able to work long hours stocking the shelves so people can buy paper towels, frozen meals, and Tylenol. He sees people standing outside on lines waiting to get in wearing masks and gloves. 

And, as his mom, I want to hide him from all of it. I want him to stay safely at home and not leave until this is over like his brother and sister. I selfishly don’t want him risking his health. It doesn’t feel good to say that out loud, but every parent knows what I’m talking about. 

What he’s doing right now is more than just reporting to a part time job and he knows it. He’s helping others survive this. He’s allowing parents to get formula and diapers for their babies. He’s making it so that elderly people can have the food and medications they need. 

We’d all be in a worse place than we already are in without his work effort, that’s for sure. 

So, my son will keep going to work and stocking the shelves. I’ll make sure he’s healthy when he leaves and that he’s clean when he gets home. He’ll watch people come in wearing masks and gloves and getting the things they need to keep their families going through all of this. 

Two things are for sure: he will never forget how his part time job turned into something that was necessary and vital to more people than he ever imagined. And this experience will change him. 

More Reading:

Social Distancing? I’m So Thankful I Have My Home Where I’m Safe

I Didn’t Cry Until I Did and Then I Wept from the Bottom of My Soul

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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