My son was deployed for a year to Iraq with the National Guard, and anticipating my daily maternal meltdowns at how far away he would for the next year (sob!), he set me up on Skype before he left so we could video chat with each other from time to time. Notwithstanding that it’s not like NCIS on TV, where the video and audio are crystal clear and totally synced as if the person is standing in the room with you (It’s a little grainy, with a definite time delay on the speech), I did get to see his beautiful smile and hear those magic words, “Hi, Mom,” every few weeks.
Whenever Jake’s Skype call would come in, my computer would emit a tinkling sound, like a tiny bell. Since there’s a significant time difference between Oregon and Iraq, this often happened in the middle of the night. If I missed the call, it might be days or weeks before another one came, so I developed ears like a mama fruit bat for that sound. I could hear it from any room of the house, any time of the day.
One hot, sticky summer night, I was lying in bed, when I heard the much-anticipated bell sound from down the hall. I bolted out of bed and raced down the hall to click the bright green “Answer Call” icon on my screen. Jake’s smiling face popped up, and then I immediately heard, “OH MY GOD, MOM!!! Are you NAKED?!?” I looked down and realized, to my horror, I was wearing my husband’s boxers and nothing else.
I immediately dove to the floor, taking out the chair on my way down, to crawl on two knees and one hand over to Kenny’s closet for a t-shirt, while frantically waving my other arm up in front of the computer, yelling “Wait! Wait! Don’t hang up!!” I could hear raucous laughter from the background, as Jake’s Army buddies figured out what was going on. Jake was shouting “Mom! MOM!! Click the ‘AUDIO ONLY’ button! It’s on your left! AUDIO ONLY!!” “No, wait! I’m here! DON’T HANG UP!” I kept yelling until I finally grabbed an oversize t-shirt to pull over my head, and scrambled up off the floor to get back in front of the computer, suitably attired to video chat with one’s offspring.
Jake looked at me and said, dryly, “You realize that when I get back and anyone asks me what was the most traumatic thing I saw over here, I’m going to have to say ‘MY MOTHER.’”
Apparently, you’re never too old to scar your kids for life.