Mothers and Sons

Journal Entry #10 @BackseatTales 
Being the father of three daughters, I am not privy to the mother-son dynamic. If it weren’t for the Zits comic strip, I would be completely clueless. That is why, it’s always fascinating to watch these dynamics play out in the backseat of my car.

One of my favorite rides began when I was summoned to the Emory health center by a woman who was very specific about close I needed to get to the entrance. When I arrived, she appeared with arms around a young man and suitcases by her side. That week, Sy suffered a ruptured appendix and his mom had flown in from South Korea to take charge of his recovery. After carefully getting the young man into the car, a fierce exchange ensued between the two. When it was over, Sy sedately asked if we could stop at the CVS for meds since his mom was very worried about him. As she got out of the car, the mom twice explained that I would need to wait while she handled his meds. I guess she was worried that I would drive off with the suitcases and her son still in the backseat.

While she was gone, we had a great talk. Sy shared his story and how he came to be an Emory student. Like every Korean male, he had served a mandatory two year term in the army. He remembered feeling both prepared and scared while in uniform. I decided not to inform him of the fact that while he was under sedation, the North Korea dictator had test launched a missile causing mild panic around the world.

Mom returned with a bag of drugs and a request to find the fastest way back to Sy’s apartment in Midtown. I actually saw Sy roll his eyes. Thankfully, she did not. The transformation from engaging young adult to subdued little boy took place in an instant.

When we arrived, I carried the suitcases to the lobby. I told Sy how lucky he was to have his mom with him all the way from Seoul. That’s when he turned to me with a grin and whispered how he planned to make the fastest recovery ever so that mom would go home.

On another occasion, I was directed to a medical office in Buckhead. While still on route, Nadim called me to explain how I needed to get as close to the entrance as possible because one of the passengers had just had surgery. In the background, I could hear a woman telling him what to say. When I arrived, the 14 year old explained that he and his aunt had just arrived from Bangladesh to help his cousin Anon cope with his surgery. It was clear that Anon was physically uncomfortable as his mom settled him in.

We were almost out of the complex when the woman suddenly yelled for me to stop. She had forgotten to get drugs from the doctor for her precious son…drugs that could not wait until he got back to his place and she went to the pharmacy…pills that could alleviate her poor boy’s pain. So we reversed directions, went back to the office, and waited for mom to get her baby his meds. Nadim told me he was on spring break and decided it would be fun to visit the US. “Some fun,” I said and we both had a little chuckle. I asked him if the monsoons were scary to which he shrugged as he replied “It depends how much you like rain. Fortunately, I do.”

When the mom got back in the car, she launched into a series of directions on each drug. Anon, who was looking pretty miserable, told her to stop lecturing him. That did not go over well with an exhausted mother who had just schlepped 14 hours on a plane to be by her son’s side. Harsh words flew in Bengali. I did not need to know the language to understand what was being said.

A calm and collected Nadim continued to fill me on the story. Anon was at Emory and this was the only time he could have his operation. They were all staying at a hotel in Buckhead while his cousin recovered. I had to ask what surgery had been performed on Anon that required this mother’s sacrifice. Nadim responded in a serious tone, “A dental implant.” At that moment, I knew that just like Sy, Anon was going to be motivated by his mom’s presence to recover quickly or die trying.

And just this week, I picked up Jaylee, a waitress at a local bar-b-que joint. We were sharing a little about our kids when the subject turned to her seventeen year old son. She had two older daughters and her son had been an unexpected surprise. Jaylee admitted that having a son was an adjustment as talk turned to his studies. “When he was playing football, my boy was motivated to study so he didn’t get kicked off the team. Once the season ended, he stopped trying. It was like talking to a wall.” Jaylee shared that the issue came down to the fact that he wanted to go to college. Apparently, nothing was sinking in until she stumbled upon the right incentive. I laughed out loud when I heard her the words that finally motivated her high school junior. “Boy, listen to me. College is your last best chance to get away from me.” Another example about how moms motivate their sons to move forward.

SUMMING IT UP I am not an expert on the relationship between mothers and sons but I am going to offer my observations as a seasoned driver. Whether Bangli, Korean, or American, nothing gets in the way of a mother tending to her baby boy’s well-being. No matter how the son may react, moms will meet it with a full frontal assault because they know what’s best. They will pound it into the heads of their sons in ways that daughters would never stand for. It makes no difference what part of the world you are from, moms are universal in their need to direct the well-being of their boys whether they like it or not.

Question of the Week: Dear sjbdriver: You have such great stories. I think you should turn this into a book. Do you know of any crazy stories that other drivers have told?

Dear Loyal Fan: One of my daughters likes to ask her drivers about their experiences since she is an avid reader of my blog. Once, a driver told her that he had picked up a woman who had been held captive for two months. When the kidnapped lady was finally released, she called Uber for a ride home.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks!

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