Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Little Pumped Up

I’ve been trying to give Charley more responsibility lately.
After all, he is knocking on the door of 25 years.
I suppose I’ve kept him on a short leash. But then, if you read “Life with Charley,” you know why. 

You know all those times he’s run off, worried me sick, taken off on the neighbor’s three wheeler, and who knows what else? Yeah, those times.

Those are the times when I feel justified being a looney mom. I can’t help it. Keeping him safe is my job. So yes, he’s been pretty much in line of sight his whole life, that is, unless someone else is trusted with the job, say, like spending the afternoon at a friend’s house.

The good news, is that he’s growing up. That means he’s trusted with more responsibility.

Like running out to the car to get something we've forgotten without us watching his every move. Oh, he may forget momentarily that he’s supposed to return, but that’s only when a basketball is present and the neighborhood kids are shooting hoops. What’s a guy supposed to do? come back to the house immediately, or strut his stuff…show off his great moves to the neighbors? Most of the time he comes back.

Other indications that he’s getting older. 
  • Helping Dad clean the kitty litter box and cat feeders.
  • Getting the mail.
  • Cleaning out the car.
  • Helping to set the table.
  • Setting the garbage cans out for Waste Management and then bringing them back to the house at the end of the day. 

And…his all time favorite; helping Dad pump the gas.

DaddyBrad usually pays. Charley pumps.

Yesterday I picked him up at a friend’s house after a birthday party. I admit I was in a panic because I was low on gas and got lost on my way to her house.

Charley’s good with directions, so he was able to help navigate us back to the main highway, where, thank you God, there was a Shell station.

I pulled up to the pump, turned the car off, and started to open the door. 

Charley said, “I helpin’ you, Mom.”

I said, “Okay, but I’ll have to pay first.”

“Okay, Sherry Honey,” he said, flashing that grin at me.

That made me laugh. I guess he’s heard his Dad say that.
“You think you can do it, Man?” I asked.


Then I did something I’ve never done before. I handed him ten dollars.

“Here ya go, Bud. Give this to the lady behind the counter and tell her I’m on pump #3,” I said.


“Do you see any other Bud around here?”

At that he took the money and went into the store, waving the ten dollar bill in his hand. The lady behind the counter gave me a wave, and out he came, heading straight to the pump.

I watched as the gas gauge moved. But not much. Geez, I know times are tough, but you’d think $10.00 would go further than that. 

My thoughts were interrupted when he got in the car and handed me seven dollars.

“What’s that?” I said.

“You money.”

“You gave the ten dollars to the lady?”

“Yeah. I told her fwee.”

“As in, three dollars worth?”


But I meant pump #3…

Couldn’t help laughing, but not so he could see.

I considered whether we could get home on three dollars worth of gas. But then, there was something else to consider. This was his first independent visit into a gas station, paying the lady, pumping the gas.

No one to tell him how to do it.

No one to tell him he wasn’t doing it right.

No one treating him like he wasn’t 25.

“I got it awe?” he said, his face beaming with pride, his chest a little more pumped up.

“You sure did,” I said. “You did a great job.”

I looked at the $7.00 in my hand.

I looked at the gas gauge.

I sure didn’t get my $10 worth.

But what I got? Priceless.

Sherry Palmer is the author of "Life with Charley: A Memoir of Down syndrome Adoption." You can find it at:

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  1. A much happier ending than when fueling by garden hose. Wink, wink.

  2. Oh yea, been there! You have to decide what's more important... great job mom! Glad to hear he's taking on more responsibility.