Life with Teenagers


with 4 comments

moonlightIt’s 2am and I’m awake. On my way down the hallway to the kitchen, I can see the light from the TV room outlining the bottom of the door. There is talking on the TV but the teens are eerily quiet for this early hour. Such is the cursory thought passing my mind as I enter the dark kitchen and start fumbling for a glass of water. Damn kids. I notice the empty Britta water pitcher hanging out by the stove. I open the refrigerator door and the entire case of coke cans are gone. I survey the kitchen counter. The plastic bag that held the pastry is missing. Inside the refrigerator, the foil-wrapped package of seven pizza slices leftover from dinner is gone. Come to think of it, where’s the container of fried chicken pieces? I close the door and look up to the oversized bowl above that holds the chip bags and the family size smartfood bag is also gone. For fun, I open the freezer door. The box of ice cream sandwiches is open- ok, not empty- but the box has been attacked, half of it ripped apart, one sandwich still sticking out from the top while two others lie beside the frozen hamburger.

I close the door with a sigh. And then I see that the bag of whole wheat, unsalted sesame crackers has also been pilfered and lies discarded and half open next to the toaster. My mother instinct tells me something isn’t right. Sentences spoken from my youngest teen earlier that evening fill my head now as I start to piece things together. “Mom, can you buy extra snacks and soda for tonight?” “When are you going to bed mom?” “Goodnight mom,” said to me one too many times. My youngest teen isn’t one to hold back when there is food in the house, and yet at 10pm I was wrapping up practically all the uneaten pizza and chicken that I had been instructed to buy. When I was growing up, my own mother had the uncanny ability to sniff out a lie or a poorly planned scheme. Teenage dishonesty has a distinct smell. And I apparently possess the same unique gift that my mother had. The kitchen reeks.

On a hunch, I take the back way to my oldest teen’s bedroom, cutting through the laundry room and slipping through the door. He’s not in his bed, his pants are strewn across the floor, and the mini blind to the back window is hanging askew. I can see that the window is down but the screen behind it is pushed all the way up. Something isn’t right. I tiptoe through the adjoining door to my other teen’s room. There’s skateboard shoe boxes scattered about, papers, pants on the floor, both bunkbeds unmade and towels on the bedpost. It’s the usual scene except for the large wrench on the floor, only a few feet away from a toolbox I usually keep on a shelf in the hall. Something definitely isn’t right.

Now I slowly push open the door to the TV room where all four teens sit wide awake and not saying a word. Three of them are bolt upright on the couch, the one in the middle has his eyes closed, the other at the end is zoning out into the TV screen. My youngest is across the room flopped across the overstuffed chair. I don’t even look at my oldest. “How come you are up mom?” Everything ok mom? Mom? Mom?” he says, barely a blur to me out of the corner of my eye. Paranoia from my oldest is not new and I say nothing back as I continue my way through the wreckage of the room, picking up the bowl of picked clean chicken bones and the empty cellophane popcorn bag from the floor. “You guys look baked, ” I say to no one in particular and with no inflection whatsoever in my voice as my youngest teen pulls the comforter cover over his face. “And another thing,” I say on my second pass through, this time gathering up empty coke cans, and crumpled up paper towels from the carpet, “I don’t want you climbing through the back window onto the deck. You hear me? And all of you, go to bed.”

My girlfriend hears me open the door to my room and climb back in bed beside her. “Everything allright?” she asks, her voice slightly faltering through half sleep. She rolls closer to me and drapes an arm over my side. “The kids are stoned.” I say back. “What?” she asks, a little more alertly now, “What makes you think that?” The moonlight from the bedroom window illuminates her face and I watch her expression change as I rattle off all the evidence. “You have more first-hand knowledge of this than I do, what does it sound like to you?” I ask her. She shakes her head and draws a deep breath. “Yeah, I’d say you were right.” she says back. After a long time, she asks me, “What are you going to do?” “I don’t know, I say back, “but I think I’m going to sleep on it.”

This is a new approach for me. Having been a practitioner of the instant response all my life, of the quick-tempered, “lose my mind” reaction, and a person who is more comfortable with fighting it out and cleaning up the mess of the aftermath the next day, I’m now (one divorce and one major breakup later) all too aware of the price you can pay for thoughtless bursts of anger. My girlfriend squeezes me tighter and strokes her toes on top of my foot as I lie awake staring at the ceiling.

“They have too much freedom.” I say in response to nothing. My internal working mom’s dilemma playing out in my head. I left my last relationship in part because I wanted to be the mom who was home on a friday night making pizzas and hosting the teenage sleepover party. I wanted one small tangible part of being Mrs Brady, or Mrs Huxtable, or any number of those TV moms from my childhood who had all the answers when it came to dealing with their own teenagers. I wanted even a tiny piece of the perfect parenting myth. But in reality- working moms, stay home moms, gay moms, or straight moms- the result is still the same. Teenagers sometimes make bad decisions. And all I really need to ask myself is: How am I going to handle it now?

“In your partying days, if your mom had confronted you, what would you have said?” I ask my girlfriend while propped up on one elbow in bed. “Oh I think I would have denied it vehemently,” she says back. I think about this awhile as the words hang in the dark stillness of the bedroom. I keep remembering myself at the same age. How there wasn’t any point to my continuing a lie once I had been found out. I wanted nothing more than the relief of honesty. There was nothing worse in my mind than my parents’ silence.

“But even still,” my girlfriend says to me, smoothing the hair from my forehead with her hand, “I think you should confront them.” She is right of course. I should. And I will. I’m not sure what I will say in the morning, but I take comfort in the fact that they have heard enough from me tonight to know that I know. And I take comfort, in a weird way, in knowing that at least they were at home during a sleepover when they chose to manipulate and totally deceive their mother. And I also take comfort in knowing that I have finally found the right partner to share my parenting angst with in the middle of the night. In the dark. During my own sleepover.


Written by kmguay

August 31, 2009 at 1:34 am

Posted in mothers, relationship, teenagers

Tagged with , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Love this one, K. Well written, just the right amount of pathos. Just a few grammatical nits if you are interested.


    September 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    • nit away Ellen, I appreciate the feedback.


      September 8, 2009 at 4:31 pm

  2. Hey, how did you handle it? Do you tell in another entry?


    September 14, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    • not yet.. possibly i’ll write another post about it.


      September 14, 2009 at 7:53 pm

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