Life with Teenagers


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 ,

3 Responses

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  1. “Treat, go place.”
    “Treat, go place!”
    “Treat, go place!!”

    Waaaahhhh! If I had a grilled cheese sandwich and curried squash soup in front of me, that dog could be doing a handstand on my head and I’d still be busy. I love how you peppered the story with that – it’s so true. A headache, no groceries, teenagers, a girlfriend, cooking, cleaning, fixing and … “Treat, go place!”

    Damned if being a teen isn’t tough. “Not my turn to feed the dog.” What? There’s the food, there’s the bowl, man – easy-peasy. Taking the dog out at 2 am in 10° – not so easy-peasy.

    I love your writing – such good storytelling – so real and alive.



    February 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm

  2. Found you on blogher in the comments for “should you blog about your teens?” I am enjoying reading your blog and though our blog styles, writing styles, and families are very different,I wanted to mention that I appreciate finding another blogger who is up front about raising teenagers. Oh & btw, my oldest once pushed golf tee’s through her ears when I wouldn’t let her get gauge’s. It was nasty!!


    February 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm

  3. Good story telling K.


    March 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm

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