My Son was an Underage Pizza Worker

or How to Encourage Independence

Confessions of a (Still) Working Mom

Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby head shot wedding smiling

You know how there are some stories in the history of families that become legends? We laughed over one of those legends at the time that our almost 21-year-old son brought home the young lady (same age) soon to be his bride. By the time you’re reading this, they’re married. Actually, just updated, by the time you're reading this it's more than three years later and they have an adorable baby boy, but I digress.

His story bumps up the Kool-Aid stand on the corner a whole new notch.

I always change my children’s names in articles and blogs to preserve the little bit of privacy left to the sons and daughters of a writer who consistently finds them her greatest source of material and inspiration. So, “Mitch” was seven years old when Dr. Tobin and I began this adventure we call “David,” the next oldest child, was 11 and finished school in the late afternoon, but Mitch finished at 3PM.

Every day, around the time that Mitch came home, I’d call him to be sure that he had found the lunch I had left for him. Fortunately we live in a protected neighborhood and our little corner of the street had enough stay-at-home moms who remembered how I looked in on their children, when I was the  one home.

When Mitch was about 14 he revealed to me that he and a few friends (also children of working moms) decided to not settle for warmed-up vegetarian hamburger.  They had approached the local pizza parlor and asked the proprietor if they could wipe down tables in return for a slice of pizza and a coke.

This went on for about a year, until they started getting hot school lunches. The owner, who we saw occasionally in passing, never let on that he knew where our boys were after school even if we didn’t.replica cartier jewelry.

As time went on, Mitch sold flowers door to door, then collected bottles and traded them in for petty cash. I put my foot down when, at 13, he asked to work in a small local flour mill, whose owners should have been reported to the child protection agencies. It took a while to explain to a boy who had been earning his own ice cream money from the age of seven that no, he could not work in a flour mill.

Other jobs included washing cars, collecting trash at the zoo, tutoring small children, waitering and anything and everything else that would result in him having ready cash and not dependent on us.

I tried to get into the guilty mom head – really I did. But I failed. And as time went on and I saw other kids selling flowers and washing cars, I knew I was not alone.

At the age of 18 Mitch became the maitre d’ for the catering service he used to work for as a young teen. At the age of 19 Mitch was given the incredibly responsible job of being the head of personnel  for a municipal discount card service of a town serving more than half a million replica cartier bracelets

At the age of 21, in addition to being a husband (His new bride and he managed most of the organization of the wedding on their own), he was in an officer’s training course. Today, at 24 (in 2014), he has hundreds of 18-19 year olds under his command, ready to go out and get the bad guys.

I don’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty anymore.

One Response to “My Son was an Underage Pizza Worker”

  1. Fuentes Rrb says:

    It has to be possible or what hope have we? My husbands grandparents have been together for 51 years, have 16 children together and still love and care for each other. I don't know what their secret is. I wonder if because he had to spend so much time away from home to work. "distance makes the heart grow fonder"

  2. Miriam Blau says:

    I am happily married for the past 50 years + 11 children
    The secret is "hard work". When a gardner tends to the soil, gets his nails dirty and lovingly takes care of the flowers, tenderly, he will grow beautifull flowers. If he will be lazy and just let the earth do it's job it might or might not grow awesome.
    This plus really careing for each other, letting the mate "grow" in something they love to do and then be proud of their accomplishments.
    Telling each other every morning "I love you- you are the greatest- I thank G-d each day that you are my wife/husband……
    This is the secret to 50 years of happy, romantic, exciting marriage

    • Caroline Snider says:

      Until three years ago I was proud of my husband. I was proud. He had provided some relief for others to take care of the life they had. I was proud of the way he provided for my wants that did not include the marriage bed< was not proud of his defiance to his father and leaders in society and not proud he stopped cooperating in 2001 and started taking for himself.
      Three years ago he is doing something doctors say he should not be able to do since his Spinal cord was crushed in 2009. He came home walking with a cane, The part I am not proud of is they say his anger at me and his father are the things that let him do this. I think how can any one that should be proud of the time he gave up, the life he was denied, be so much hating of this his rage lets him walk.
      One evening his rage at me, his rage at his father, and his feeling he will never allow any one a say ever again in his life.
      He came home from a stress center. I had promised his father I would go to a political fund raiser With him, my mother in law and his best friend, He thought refusing to come pick my husband up at the center the would keep him. Since it was -40 degrees that day Instead his insurance sent him home by paying the twenty mile ride back. I was just finishing getting ready to go when I heard somebody come I and I went to get help with a clasp, Ant there stood my husband looking like a storm getting ready to break.
      He said good I am tired of being in hospitals after three years, I have not had any thing as a life since the day we married, 31 years ago, he said I know I have nothing in my wardrobe to compare to that dress but I have some clean jeans and a shirt. sorry my nice shoes are Wellingtons, He said I wonder if they still fit. He said since I haven't been any where out in 31 years I had to make the suggestion, and I pretty much knew I was not going as I had promised. I tried by telling him that I had made a promise to his father to go.
      He said well you have 31 years of promises to keep to me before them don't you , they can take a flying leap, because as of that evening I was going to keep my promises. I owed him 31 years of marital life, for that matter we owed him a life period. And I could just consider that evening and night the down payment on what I had helped steal, his face got really stormy, He said because I am never again taking the back seat to my father his or my friends since he did not have any.
      I started to plead and beg at that point and I made a mistake. I handed him 100.00 and said please just pick a place to meet after the event and make it a big enough place to let everyone sit and we can get his grievances on the table, talk things through and get something he could be allowed now he was no longer working but crippled. The simple word ALLOWED set him into a rage, He told me that was one word that would never be used in his presence ever as well as there is always tomorrow and cant he just see the glass half full, Or you have a hope in the future for what you want. Any of these words or phrases now just makes him enraged. He tore my new dress off as well as everything else. Told me to get out to the curb as I was if I was going. since we felt he could walk home in minus fourty degree weather lets see how fast skin flash freezes in it. I was crying Is there any way we can slow this down and talk, He told me for 31 years he had heard me talk. heard me beg for everyone and myself. He told me that evening was his turn to be heard and by god I was going to hear him.
      When he finished I was sore crying, things did not have to be this way. We could have talked, he handed me the phone and said the number is 911 my fathers best friend is at the door and I am not done making my point he said don't clean up for the kit, don't pick up they will want pictures. and His fathers friend left a few seconds latter on a flight, towards his fathers and mothers windshield.
      What should have been pride in the life he lead turned into resentment, rage and really no love for me and his fellow man. His father he just wants to feel the pain my husband says he caused. Over trying to just get my husband to wait for the Hawaii vacation in 2018 instead of just pushing himself into this years cruise over his fathers objection, I was again left begging that he knew it was trouble if my husband went. I said just let me go this time and give the loan asked to his fathers friend. I said it would go a long way to smoothing things over. My husbands answer was I had been on ten of these vacations since 1987, He said lets see. let me count how many times have I come to him promising to get him included the next vacation trip, and how many times had he been back at work paying for me to go again without getting the replacement time promised if he just let things stand, Remember the one on the orient express in 2009 I am in the airport and ask you for my ticket, You and dad say this other guy just got married He needed my vacation weeks, For his fourth honey moon with his fourth wife when we had not even had our first from 1981, You thought I should feel bad I wanted this vacation. He said I take it my ticket was traded in, I said yes the week before. He told me to place my purse on the counter and took the money I was taking. He handed me 1500 of the 5000 I was taking, It left me the bare minimum and he said he earned the money he should be able to use it. I suppose you also told my foreman I will be there this evening. I said please don't be angry it was somebody elses need, He walked away saying as always. Everything for everyone else nothing for me, I told his father and others that this had to stop then, He absolutly was being put out of his rights, He had not even called me any thing but tramp in ten years,
      Then in October he was sick MRSA in his spine, His father was hit in the face with a bed pan knocking him out the day before the 2012 trip to the mid east. And consessions are not something we can offer my husband now. We cant even offer something to make up for what was denied, He was right years ago when he asked what happens when you have no more there is always tomorrow left. He has not had a tomorrow for five years. and he just wants his death.
      His fathers friends have been handed a blanket federal order that they are to stay out of the state I live now. . I sit out in these canyons with my nearly two year old son and my mother and sister across the road, I see my husband every other day They say his brain function was severly impaired. And I don't know how I will ever explain to my son if the doctors say to take my husband of life support that I had to let his father die. I thought for years there was always time. My husband said on his tablet the other day nobody knows the time or the hour they have, he wrote he could only thank me for one thing in his life, Our son. He is just sorry he won't see him grow up, that evening is when the doctors said my husband started shutting down.
      I am taking Ray in to see his father this after noon. I have no idea if that will help or not. I know that the last three years has turned into high stress for everyone. I also know my husband does not want to die were he is. His cousin says since ashes have to be buried now her and her husband will place them where he wanted to be spread.
      I always wanted him as a help to others, never thought that his days would be done before 80 by 2 decades.

  3. Caroline Snider says:

    I was Married In Early 1981. By 1985 I had been Diagnosed as Bi Polar Scizo Effective, Had not seen my husband except for a half hour, from the day we married and that's the only conversation I had with him for three and a half years. I was even told what I could talk over with him, I was supposed to get him to reenlist in the Navy. By the end of that half hour His father was furious, that he had acquired a UAW contract book, was furious that he had also received a letter confirming the seniority my husband had built, Since he began his military leave of absence under the contract,
    The next six months that's all I heard about was how hard the fact somehow these things made it past military censers into my husbands hands making it almost impossible when my husband came home to get him to do what was best for the community. IN his opinion What was best was if my husband never came back. He would use his seniority to disrupt and destabilize the whole world the way his father put it.
    So under the medications, and the illness I suffered from I was asked to help with my husbands return, I had not known many of the things my husband had been abused by his father and others far before we met, Like the day my husband defied his father and four members of the school board after he had already served in his first military basic training and School in the Army. Him and three other seniors decided four second years where not getting the positions they earned just because they were school board members kids, The four second years were treated so roughly by the seniors including my husband they quit. His father consider his son the ringleader an when my husband arrived home he was knocked out stepping from his car. They tied him to a tree and whipped him with extension cord until he passed out. We did not marry until his Navy hitch seven years later. I had a breakdown two years later.
    His father asked me to do a simple thing, tell my husband until things settled out for 2 years marital relations needed to be placed on hold, When my husband tried to use his seniority as he wanted two days after arriving home I felt it was needed for me to do this. Then the first vacation to Rome 2 years to the day latter, I am again begging him to back off his seniority right to allow somebody with much less take the weeks he had coming, We tried getting him when we returned to just take what he considered the most useless time in mid winter for his vacation. I was loaded on a bus thirty minutes after getting home from Rome Because again I broke my promise of letting him take the vacation of his choosing and use his seniority as he saw fit, And in front of his whole family he told me he wanted a wife when we married. He said he was sending me back to my mother in the same condition as he received me unmarried. His father was going to hit him to get him to see some reason but the whole bus terminal heard just one warning from my husband, that if he even taped him he would need a headstone where he stood I left a half hour after getting back from Rome Because my husband would not see the reasons why he should go when we wanted on vacation. He was not allowed a divorce due to my illness but I was gone two years and I have never been able to make any peace with him since and proceed slowly in to the life he wanted. Over the decades his resentment and anger grew. Every trick and blackmail was used to just keep him from taking what he wanted, and there have been some terrible arguments and fights getting people badly hurt including the last thanksgiving before he was disabled, in 2008 his father and other felt he was to dangerous to try taking on in a hand to hand basis His training in combat arts had been proved in 2001 with four men ending up in critical care over my husband finally using his seniority to take a job he wanted.
    His father and his circle had used firearms to force him into work and my husband just slowed down until one of them got to close, He yanked the weapon out of the mans hands and crushed his face in with the butt. It took security and a deputy an hour to talk my husband out of opening fire on them, My husbands ransom was to be allowed to ruin 6000.00 in weapons. He worked his 16 hour holiday shift and came home at midnight. Everyone had gone to the hospital to support the mans daughter during the surgery over the "hunting accident" I knew it was my husband being angry. When we got home at 1;30 AM that thanksgiving we found dogs fighting over the dinner we left in the warmer, My husband had taken what he wanted put the rest in the fridge, And left a note we could have sandwiches at Dennys this year for thanksgiving. His father was steaming and went in to give my husband what for and came flying back out of the room with his nose broken. My husbands voice said I am getting a few hours sleep before going to work so get the hell out of my house. Three years latter After getting MRSA in his spine and being retired after 34 years, going through 3 years rehab he came home to my last affair, For the simple humiliation that was attempted another man was badly hurt, Then two weeks latter his fathers best friend hit face first in the drive and my husband refused any try at negotiating a way to let him have what he had been denied 31 years. He raped me. and everyone now tries to think what else could have been done besides trying to control him.
    He doesn't allow any one any room to ask anything of him now, he says we stole his life. It was just everyone had their own needs and wants to look to we forgot he might have them also. Every year he became so much more hard I felt one day I could somehow make up the life he lead. After the MRSA I know there is no way to do so now. He had a major Stroke four weeks ago he just lays there looking with that tablet he uses to communicate, he holds it up with a moving message crossing it in big red letters. telling all of us to finish the murder we started so many years ago, He says the next time I come to bring his 30 30 in and put it to his head and pull the trigger.
    I find many that know what happened, actually think I need to be shot. And now there is no making up for anything.

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