Life with Teenagers

Archive for February 2010

evolution has taught me otherwise

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one bite
“I have two crowds, mom,” says my younger teen at the table spooning black bean and cheese onto a small scrap of flour tortilla, “my skateboard crowd and my heavy metal crowd.”

I’m standing over the table, rationing out the last bit of heuvos rancheros from the pan onto my plate.

“That’s kind of like the same crowd though isn’t it?” I say, as I take a seat at my place. “And what’s wrong with you?” I ask the older teen who is shuffling his beans from side to side on his plate with his fork.

“Nothing mom! he says. “For the last time, nothing is wrong.”

I turn to the younger teen, “I mean, the same kids are in both crowds aren’t they?” My girlfriend puts her hand up, palm facing me in a stop motion.

“Easy now,” she says. “How would you know the differences between the crowds?”

“Is this enough food for everyone?” I ask no one in particular.

“I’ve got mbout six crowms,” says the older teen as he stuffs a rolled-up tortilla wedge into his mouth. He pauses a moment to swallow his bite. “My leader crowd, my work crowd, my Y crowd, the school crowd, MYtheater crowd.” He looks at me now and scrapes more bean and cheese mixture onto the last of his tortilla, leaving one perfectly round hardboiled egg yolk on his plate.

“Ok but, the Y crowd and your work crowd are kind of the same crowd aren’t they?” I ask while crunching a tortilla chip I just grabbed from the bowl in the center of the table.

“Did you just say carowd?” asks the older teen. We are all silent for a minute.

“Umm yeah, I think I did,” I reply.

Laughter erupts from everyone as the older teen launches into a Scottish accent.

“There’s just a wee bit of similarities in those carowds there lassie. Yep, nothing like a carowd of yer friends to…

“Stop!” I say, waving my hands around in the air. “I was thinking of another word and the word crowd at the same time!” I start trying to explain myself and catch my breath from laughing. “But at the last minute,” I say drawing in air, “the word crowd won out so it was kind of a mix of the two.”

“Yeah, I hate it when that happens, mom,” says the younger teen coming to my rescue. “I know what you mean.”

“You didn’t have enough,” I finally say to the older teen when the laughing stops. “I’ll make you some quesadillas.”

He picks up the hard boiled egg yolk and holds it in the air between his two fingers.

“I say we name it. I’ll call him yolkie,” he says.

“Mom can I have that last piece of cake?” asks the younger teen.

“You have to share,” I say and hand one half to my girlfriend on a plate and the other to the teen.

“Dude, are you going to share your piece of cake with me? says the older teen.

“I don’t know son, am I going to get some of your quesadilla?” he asks.

“How about you just give him one bite of your cake.” I say. He looks at me blankly but then cuts off one bite and leaves it balanced precariously on the rim of his plate.

“Here, you can eat this later,” he motions to his plate and looks at his brother, “I wont touch it.”

“You won’t?” I ask. “Oh boy, that’s not going to be easy.”

“I know,” he says, and then thoughtfully, easing back in his chair, “Evolution has taught me otherwise.”

“Dude, you better not or I’ll mess you up,” says the older teen grabbing for the quesadilla I hand him across the table.

“Who is going to feed Treat?” asks my girlfriend.

“Your turn,son,” says the younger teen getting up and turning towards the door.

“Goodbye yolkie, says the older teen faking tears. He snatches up the yellow yolk from his plate and tosses it to the dog under the table. “It was nice knowing you.”

“See dude? you shouldn’t have named it.”

The older teen grabs the last bite of cake from his brother’s plate and pops it in his mouth. “Aha got it in time.” The younger teen exits the room as my girlfriend gets up with the dog. I start clearing dishes and carrying them to the sink.
I’m still thinking of my younger teen’s last comment and his Darwinian notions. Survival of the fittest to him means that his baser more animal nature will win out more often than his altruistic impulses. And maybe he is right about that. But what has the evolution of my life with teenagers taught me? Maybe just that if I wait a minute, everything will change. A surly teen will turn jubilant after eating a plate of beans and eggs. Fifteen minutes of laughter at the table will change a potentially tense dinner to an easy one. Two very different brothers will find some common ground in silly conversation and forget about the disappointing main course.

In short, my best parenting can turn bad in a moment’s notice. But likewise, whatever “bad mom” feelings I have won’t stay bad for very long.

Evolution has taught me otherwise.


Written by kmguay

February 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


with 3 comments

“Hey mom, how was your weekend?” asks my younger teen as he enters the kitchen. I’m standing at the stove sauteeing spinach in a pan with olive oil and tossing cumin and curry powder simultaneously into a pot of yellow squash soup. The refrigerator is empty. The dishwasher is full. My girlfriend, and the dog still on his leash, are pacing around the kitchen.

“Hi babe,” I say, leaning over to push his headphones back to give him a kiss on the forehead. “It was good. How was your weekend with dad?” I ask.

“Fine,” he replies and makes his way through the kitchen headed in the direction of the TV room just as his older brother turns the corner.

“Hello Mutha, what are we eating?” he peers over my shoulder into the pot. “Ugh not that squash soup again is it?”

“I’m making grilled cheese, too. We have to eat what’s left in the house. I didn’t do groceries yet,” I say to him.

Actually, I haven’t done anything yet. My overnight bag is still plopped on a chair. The laundry basket is overflowing with towels again. We’re out of shampoo in the bathroom and all of us are forced to use the dove heat infusion stuff my mom left behind in November. The container is bright orange and shaped like something I might order from the good vibrations catalog. None of us want to use this shampoo because of the container, and it only reappears in the shower during neglected housekeeping moments like this one.

My girlfriend stands in the middle of the kitchen with the dog.

“Anything I can do?” she asks.

I point to the pot and suggest stirring in more seasoning “How about nutmeg,” I say. She only has one arm free and the other is still wrapped around the dog’s leash. My head throbs with a headache I have had all afternoon.

“Boys! one of you get in here and set the table please,” I yell out in the air. The younger teen walks in and the blur of setting the table begins. Plates are doled out. Spoons are thrown in a pile. My girlfriend ladles soup into bowls. I flip sandwiches out of the grill pan and onto the table.

“So your weekend was ok? What did you guys do?” I ask while dipping my spoon into my bowl.

“We just chilled, mom,” says the younger teen.

“Hey that’s right,” says the older teen. “How was your weekend in Vermont?”

“It was great,” I say. “But cold. We didn’t snowshoe. We mostly stayed in the room. We read books.”

“You read books? Now even I know a euphemism when I hear one,” he says.

He winks at me and dips half of his sandwich sideways into his bowl of soup. My girlfriend across the table has her head down. She is chewing. After a minute she says, “Very good use of that word, dude. I’m proud of you.” She smiles at me and to the dog she says, “Treat, go place!”

“So you didn’t go visit Beth, huh? I say to both of the teens. “Oh! that reminds me, Beth tells me that Jared’s parents have had a very hard year with him. I guess he is a skinhead.”

“Mom, you shouldn’t use that term lightly,” says my younger teen. “Is he a real skinhead?”

“I don’t know, that’s what I thought I heard Beth say. We should ask her,” I say.

“He better never come near the little kids if he thinks like that. I’ll mess him up,” says the older teen.

“Can you imagine how hard that must be for his parents?” I ask.

“He is my age right? asks the younger teen.

“Yes, and he is trying to assert his own ideas like every teen. I just think It would be very hard for me as a parent to be ok with that,” I say.

Treat, go place!” says my girlfriend motioning to the dog to stay where he is on his blanket.

“Hey, would one of you feed Treat tonight? she asks.

“Its your turn,” says the younger, teen.

“Treat, go place!”she says.

“I think it’s not, it’s your turn,” says the older teen.

‘”Treat, go place!” she says.

“Dude, I did it last, your turn,”says the younger ten.

“Treat, go place!” Good boy,” she says and sits back down.

I look up at my older teen’s backside as he gets up from the table.

“God, where is your butt? I ask him with a sigh.

“Mom, I like it this way. This is my look. It’s my individualityism

“Dude, the word is individuality.”

“Shut it,” says the older teen giving his brother a swat as he grabs for the baggie of dry dog food on the counter.

“Treat, go place!”says my girlfriend again.

“Mom, what’s wrong with my headlight?” says the older teen stirring the wet and the dry food together in the stainless steel bowl on the counter.

“Your headlight?” I smile at my girlfriend across the table.

“Treat, go place!” Good boy,” she says.

“You know, my light in the fan thing,” he says looking at all of us at the table.

“Dude,” says his brother, “you mean your overhead light in your room?

“Yeah that,” he says.

We all snicker at the table a little.

“Kid has his own language,” says the younger teen scooping from his bowl of ice cream now with the crushed oreo pieces.

“You know it,” says the older teen holding the dog food bowl high in the air.

“Ok, Treat,” says my girlfriend as she releases the dog to the other side of the room.

But I’m still thinking about the word individualityism. Kind of a cross between individuality and individualism. And the mixed up, jumbled way they are thrown together by my teen reminds me of the scene in this kitchen tonight. And something isn’t quite right. Even a much needed weekend away to “step out of my life” doesn’t really take me away at all. I realize tonight how much I missed the kids. I’m always a mother. These days, I’m always a girfriend too. I’m always an ex-wife. What does individualityism even look like for me anymore?

The younger teen snaps one of the elastic bands in his mouth and it sails across the table.

“Let me look at your ears” I say. He bends toward me and pulls his long shiny brown hair away from one ear.

“That gauge looks bigger,” I say.

“It is, and you know I want to go up another size too, Mom. It’s my individualityism.


I look around the room with its dirty dishes piled in the sink, the pans still hanging out on the stove. My headache still throbs. I’ll let this one go. Another battle for another night.

Treat, go place!

Written by kmguay

February 4, 2010 at 2:09 am

Posted in dinner, teenagers

Tagged with ,