Blue Kid called me tonight on his way home from work.
"Guess what, Mom?"
"I got a raise. (!)"
His voice had a tone to it that was tapped down, but I could hear the enthusiasm he was tapping down. So, I followed his lead.
"Good for you. (!)"
"I'm the only one who got one. No one else did. (!) I got a perfect score on the evaluation. (!)"
"Well, you deserve it. (!) You're a hard worker. You never miss work. You have a great attitude about it."
"None of the managers even got one. Just me. (!)"
"I'm not surprised. I'm proud of you. (!) Be careful driving home. There's freezing rain."
"I will. (!) I'll be home in a few minutes."
When we hung up, I was so happy he was so happy. But then I started worrying that he'll put too much importance on money. But then I thought that it's not the money, it's the acknowledgment and reward for doing a good job that had made the two of us so happy. And then I started to worry that he might get hooked on making more money and more money and that this is just the beginning and that's all he'll strive for and one day he'll end up, years from now, getting lots of raises (or not), making lots of money (or not), but he'll have that feeling that something's missing and I won't be here to say something like, "You are great at what you do, but you really shouldn't focus so much on the money. (!) You should think about doing something that really makes you happy. (!)"
And after all of that had gone through my mind (!), I remembered our conversation Sunday night when I saw the line drawing, the fabulous black ink line drawing he had worked on for two weeks for art class.
"You know, you should really think about art school. You know that? (!) You're really good. You have your own unique style, very original. (!)"
"I don't know, Mom. I like art. But, I'm thinking of getting a PhD in history."
"How come? What are you gonna do with it?"
"I don't know. I don't really care right now. All I really know is that I want to learn it all. I want to really learn and know as much as I can."
I didn't learn that learning as much as I could about what I loved the most was what really mattered until I was in my thirties.
He got up and I watched him walk out of the room. And nothing about what he had said worried me at all.