Moderated by Rachel Stein / email@example.com
Streams of people teemed forward, intent on reaching their destinations. Joining the crowds, I kept my eyes peeled for the one figure I longed to see. At last her slight form appeared, and I dashed forward to greet her, throwing my arms around her.
“It’s so good to see you,” I told Elise, squeezing her hand. “We missed you.”
A month of camp is a long time to be separated from your child, especially when she’s your only daughter.
“What happened to your glasses?” I asked as we stood at baggage claim, waiting for her oversized duffel bags.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” she hedged, and my mother’s intuition zoomed into overdrive.
“Nothing?” I echoed, staring at the frame, which was crudely taped together.
“Well,” she said, “one of the staff members let us go on a golf cart. Then, when she rounded a corner, the golf cart tipped over. I sort of fell off, and a few girls fell on top of me. That’s all.”
A lion’s roar was welling up inside me. If we hadn’t been in public …
“Are staff members allowed to give campers rides on golf carts?” I asked. My mind flipped back to when I did a stint in a children’s hospital, and I remembered that golf cart rides were a leading cause of accidents.
“No,” she said, “not really.”
“What’s her name?” I demanded, planning to call the camp and blast them for having allowed such an episode to take place.
“I can’t say,” Elise replied.
“What do you mean you can’t say?” I sputtered. “She did something dangerous. And besides, who is supposed to pay for your glasses?”
Elise shrugged, and I could feel my temperature rising.
“She asked me not to say anything. She wasn’t supposed to give us the ride. If the director finds out what happened, she could lose her job.”
“Elise, I’m your mother. You need to tell me the name of this lady. Now.”
Elise clamped her lips closed and turned her focus to the carousel. Incensed, I contemplated the scenario. Not only had this woman committed a reckless infraction, endangering several girls, but she also wouldn’t admit what she did. What kind of example is she setting?
Knowing I wouldn’t get far with my obstinate teen, I concocted various schemes to uncover the information. One way or another, I would find out this lady’s identity. Justice would be served.
At my wits’ end, I sent an email to the camp administration.
“This is very disturbing,” they wrote back. “What is the staff member’s name?”
“I don’t have it,” I replied. “My daughter won’t tell me. But perhaps you can call Elise and tell her you found out about the episode (not through me, of course) and must have the staff member’s name?”
Unwittingly, my daughter opened the computer to print something and noticed the email still on my screen. Realizing there was no longer a reason to protect the culprit, she reluctantly gave me her name and phone number. I called immediately.
“Oh, Mrs. Marks,” she said. “I am so sorry about what happened to Elise. You can’t imagine how terrible I feel. I was wrong for allowing the girls to go on the golf cart, and I’d like to make amends. How much are the glasses? I feel so bad about the whole thing.”
You should, I seethed. Not only did you behave recklessly, but you didn’t have the decency to call me. Then she tossed in the clincher.
“As soon as I got home from camp, I was thrown into preparing for my brother’s wedding. I meant to call you, but there was so much going on. I really appreciate your coming straight to me and not speaking to the administration.”
Gulp. Too late, sweetheart.
“Thank you for your apology,” I said. “I’ll let you know how much the glasses cost.”
“Great,” she said. “I will be happy to take care of it. And I’m so glad Elise is OK, besides the glasses, of course. I really learned something. I will never allow the girls on a golf cart again. They are really dangerous.”
So, fellow readers, here is my dilemma. Do I accept the staffer’s apology and put the story behind us? I can tell the camp we settled the issue. Or should I speak to the administration anyway, possibly placing this woman’s job in jeopardy? Her behavior was irresponsible, and who knows if she can be trusted with our children the following year.
Your assistance in helping me determine the right course of action is deeply appreciated. Please respond by Monday, Sept. 19.
Shared Spirit is a column in which people share personal dilemmas. Readers are encouraged to assist by offering meaningful advice.