Life with Teenagers

Archive for November 2009

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From my family to yours. Happy Thanksgiving

Written by kmguay

November 23, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Posted in family, holiday

Tagged with , ,

away we go

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movie
“I’m going to take him out one more time,” says my girlfriend crouching down in the kitchen fastening a leash to the dog’s harness. I catch a glimpse of them on my way by in the hallway that connects my bedroom to the TV room. I’m carrying my square red kilim hassock over my head and twisting my body sideways to fit through the doorway. I do a quick scan of the teen TV room as I plop the hassock down in front of the couch. Piles of school books lean against the leather chair in the corner, glasses are strewn about on the floor. I count seven. The quilt I just washed is bunched up under the table by the window. And two grayish popovers, that at one time were socks, balance on the outdoor lawn furniture tables the older teen has been using as a catch-all for used tissues, red riccola wrappers and toenail clippings. I clear off the tables and carry all seven glasses to the kitchen sink.

“Mom, I’m going to go skate,” says the younger teen now materializing from out of nowhere and zipping up his black and multicolor hooded skateboarding jacket with the fleece lining and peering into an open refrigerator.
“It’s dark out and it’s cold. Where are you going?” I ask, my back to him, turning the flame off under the teapot on the stove.
“Just to Horace, mom, we don’t have school tomorrow and I already did all my homework.”
“Be back at 10pm,” I say and away he goes, breezing past my girlfriend now back in the kitchen with a spinning dog at her feet. I pour boiling water into two cups adorned with green wrappers hanging by strings that read sadaf. I place two small cookies that look like cake mounds coated with shiny white icing and tiny rainbow colored balls the size of kosher salt sprinkles on a plate as my girlfriend stretches over my shoulder to grab the dog treats from the cabinet above me.

I take a cup and a plate and lead the way into the TV room. “What shall we watch?” I say, pointing to the remote control, covering the two of us with the quilt as we flop on the couch. I flip open the cellphone that is buzzing in my pocket. The text reads: “What time do I need to be home and can you pick me up?”
“I’m watching a movie,” I text back. ” When it’s over.”
“Ok.”
The credits start but I’m still looking at my cellphone, scrolling through the unerased messages. Earlier in the day, my friend called me at work to say that one of her friends had just died.
“What? but we just found out about the hospice. How could this happen so fast?” I asked.
“Yeah, I know. I thought I’d have more time to talk to her,” she said. “Now she is gone.”
I stare at a text of the details now on the tiny lit up screen in the dark. It reads: The wake is Friday. The funeral is Saturday. I read the text a few more times and look over at my girlfriend on the couch beside me.
“This is the best cookie ever,” she says to me. I grab her hand under the quilt and flip the phone closed shut with the other.

Soon the younger teen is back opening the door a crack. “You’re watching a movie?” he says.
“Looks that way doesn’t it” I reply.
“Mom, Greg’s sister is 18 and she has her license.” He has moved into the room fully and sits across from us on the leather chair. “So tomorrow a bunch of us are thinking of going into Boston and”
“No,” I say.
“Mom, why not? We’re going to go skate.”
“You are too young for Boston. Just no.”
“Time for popcorn!” my girlfriend says pausing the movie.
“Yes, good idea,” I say. “We’ll talk about it later.” And away we go, teen storming out of the doorway putting his jacket back on, me off of the couch heading in the direction of the kitchen with the dog following behind.

I pour oil in my big dutch oven pan and listen to a rainfall of popcorn kernels hitting the bottom as I cover it completely, turn the flame to high, and leave the lid on askew. I search the cabinets for salt and melt a pat of butter in the microwave in a plastic measuring cup with a spout. My cellphone vibrates again and it’s my older teen.
“Mom, her mom says I need to leave at 10:00 and if you don’t get me I have to walk.”
“I don’t want you walking.” I say. “Why can’t she just drive you home now?”
“She’s in her pajamas and she wants to go to bed and she can’t leave us alone downstairs.”
I look down at my own red flowered flannel pajamas and dump the popped corn from the overturned pot into a big metal mixing bowl. I look at the clock on the wall. 9:35.
“Ok, I’ll pick you up at 10:00. Be ready.” I shake salt, pour the butter and carry the bowl back to the TV room.

My girlfriend reaches for the bowl and unpauses the movie. On the screen the main female character is sitting next to the main male character and she is saying something like:

“I think we might be fuck-ups.”
“No we are not fuck-ups,” he says back to her gently.
“I think we might be,” she says back. “We might be fuckups.”

I look at my girlfriend and grab a handful of popcorn. “Do you think I said no to him too fast? I didn’t let his brother go into Boston alone until this past year though.”
Through her crunching it sounds like she says, “I don’t think you handled it wrong.” But I decide not to ask again because my cellphone is vibrating.
“Mom, I think you should come get me now. She doesn’t want me here anymore.” reads the text.
“I have to go pick up a teen,” I say to my girlfriend. She pauses the TV again and gathers cups and plates while starting to rise from the couch. I pass the younger teen on my way to the front door searching for my keys. He is brooding in the dark on my couch and texting on his cellphone.
“Is everyone going to Boston tomorrow?” I ask.
“Don’t know” he mutters.
I stand in the dark waiting for something more to say but realize that no matter what he decides to tell me, my answer will still be no. I can feel my resolve as palpable as even his brooding silence.

Finally I say, “I have to go pick up your brother now.” And away I go.

Written by kmguay

November 15, 2009 at 4:56 pm

what just happened here?

with 3 comments


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“What just happened here?” My girlfriend shuts the front door and stands in the entryway still holding the dog leash and wearing her leather jacket. “I just saw a teen run down the street in his t-shirt,” she says. I’m sitting on the couch looking straight ahead at the other teen pacing in the dining room.
“No, I’m not talking to you until you calm down,” I say.
“Mom! we are talking right now,” the teen bellows.
“No, I’m not,” I reply.
“I’m not moving mom. You are going to talk to me now,” he says, flailing his arms and and trying to remain in a tough guy posture.
“Stand there all night then. I’m not talking,” I say again.
“Right now mom, right now,” he says. He paces back and forth in the dining room. I look over at my girlfriend who is still standing frozen in the entryway. I give her that I’m drowning look and say nothing to her as I start pressing my finger into the apricot pastry crumbs left on the plate on the coffee table. I take one of the empty tea cups and stack it on top of the other. I crumple a napkin. My girlfriend continues to stand in the hallway in her jacket.

“Do you want me to go look for him?” she says. It’s pretty dark out and the temperature has dropped.”
She lets the dog off the leash to sniff around and walk in circles. He stops to lie on his blanket near the couch, but after two minutes, he is back up again. “What just happened here?” he seems to be thinking as he wanders the new surroundings. One minute, I’m on a farm in Georgia and the next minute I’m here with all these strange yelling people. He travels from room to room, his little nails clicking on the hardwood floor as he passes.
“Yeah, thanks,” I say back.

When she leaves, the teen sits beside me on the couch with tears in his eyes hyperventilating.
“So how is this suddenly my fault, huh?” I ask him.
“Mom! you know how he is, you shouldn’t get mad at him,” he says.
“Im tired of you both right now. It’s Sunday. You’ve been playing all weekend. You both know the computer isn’t working right and you wait till 9pm to start your homework. What do you expect? Your brother is mad at himself, not at me,” I say. “So what just happened here?”
“He slammed the door in my face! So I pinned him to the ground,” he says.
“Did you hit him?” I ask.
“No, I pushed him and I pinned him. He was swearing at me,” he says.
“I know, I heard you,” I say. “And another thing,” I start to launch into a lecture. “I haven’t seen you do any homework lately. Want to know what I think? I think things are slipping in your world. There will be no drivers ed classes until I see your grades this semester. You want to be in clubs, want to have a job, want to see you girlfriend all the time? Well, something has to give, bub.”
“You are making too much of my grades mom!” he yells.
“You are damn right I am, it’s a priority.” I say.
“Well its not mine! Fuck this!” he yells.
“You better watch your language right now if you know what is good for you,” I say, my voice starting to raise. The teen loses all self control and punches the coffee table with his fist.
“And I don’t have any money for your broken hand either!!!” I yell back. “Get out of here right now!”

The teen slams his way into the tv room and I remain motionless on the couch staring straight ahead. I take a deep breath and recall the morning brunch with friends. November sunlight streaming through the windows, illuminating the colored candle holders in the center of the table, the four of us sipping port from tiny amber colored bell-shaped glasses and spooning into dense chocolate raspberry triangles, listening intently while our good friend choked out the words to describe an approaching dreaded birthday. “I’m going to be 45,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion, “and I think to myself, what just happened here? How is it that I’ve missed all that time in between?”

I pick up my cellphone and call my girlfriend. “Did you find him?” I ask.
“No, I’m headed back,” she says.

I walk into the tv room and tell the sullen teen on the couch that his brother is missing.
“He’ll be back mom,” he says but he sits up with a worried expression and starts tugging at his bottom lip.
“Well it’s dark, I don’t know if he has his phone, he didn’t answer. I don’t even know if he wore his shoes,” i say.
The teen gets up and grabs for his jacket.
“We’ll go back out again, I know where to look,” he says, just as my girlfriend enters the house again. He takes off out of the tv room with a shot.

I decide to do what any good mother does in a crisis. I walk into the teen’s bedroom and start to pick up laundry off the floor, start smoothing the sheets on the unmade bed, adjusting the curtains, and pulling down the blinds. I pick up the cordless phone from the floor near the desk and dial my ex-husband’s number and get his answering machine. I leave him a cryptic message saying “something just happened” and he should call back when he gets the message. And I think to myself, as I bend over to grab damp towels from the bed and start to hang them back on hooks behind the door, what just happened here? How did I go from having it all together, to the best laid plans for my son’s junior year, for my personal trainer this fall (I notice the exercise elastic with handles strewn across the dryer in the laundry room, the one I bought a month ago and never even touched) to this?

My cellphone starts to buzz in my pocket and it’s the younger teen on the line.
“I’m coming home,” he says.
“Do you realize everyone is out looking for you?” I ask.
“I’m on my way home” he says.
“Call your father from your cell, ok? I’ll let everyone else know. Are you ok?” I ask.
“I’m ok, mom, I’m on my way home.”
“Ok, don’t forget to call your father,” I say. “And tell him what just happened.”

Written by kmguay

November 4, 2009 at 2:04 am