Life with Teenagers

Archive for June 2010

it’s a father thing

with 4 comments


“Did you eat enough?” I say to my oldest teen sitting beside me on the blue lawn chair in the yard. He is leaning his elbow on the foldout table draped in a lime green cloth and set with a shallow platter of rum spiked watermelon chunks drizzled in fresh lime and dotted with cilantro. On the red plastic plate in his hand are the remnants of grilled onions and what looks like maybe two skewers of Greek-style marinated chicken.

“I’m all good mom,” he says to me and whips his long hair back from his eyes to adjust his ball cap. Across the yard, on another blue chair, is his younger brother eating potatoes. The two fathers of honor sit to his left chatting loudly about baseball while gripping their sweating glass bottles that are precariously balanced in the armchair cup holders. It’s one of those rare early summer days with a no humidity breeze rustling the dark green canopy of maple leaves. The air smells of charcoal, mowed grass, and a hint of decaying floral from the now past-their-prime peonies leaning over in the dappled late afternoon sun.

“I see you got the one and only purple potato,” I yell across the lawn to my younger teen over the sound of my ex telling an animated story to my girlfriend’s father and simultaneously taking a swig from his Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The younger teen holds up his potato in the air on its wooden skewer.

“I’m full mom, I don’t think I can eat it.” he says. “Hey, J-dog,” he calls out to my girlfriend who has finally sat down from grilling and holds her own yellow plastic plate in her lap.”You want my potato?”

“Nah, that’s ok man, I got enough here,” she calls back to him.

The conversation has turned to another recounting of a scene from the original Godfather and I notice my ex is standing now to act out a line. I turn my attention to the older teen beside me getting antsy in his chair. He’s been here 10 minutes only and he already wants to leave? I think to myself, but decide not to say anything. I don’t want a repeat of anything close to last night.

***

“I might have to take the teen to his bass lesson in the morning if his dad is not back in time,” I said to my girlfriend beside me in the dark room just the night before. “But then I’ll be over to start the food. You should just concentrate on studying,” I said.

“Well, I can get the chicken started in the marinade in the morning and…” she began, shifting the thin sheet billowing from the breeze of the window fan as she turned to face me. I was watching my cell phone finally buzz.

“Thank God,” I said, “Now maybe we can sleep.” But it wasn’t my oldest teen out somewhere in the night with his new car and not answering his text messages from me. It was my ex husband.

“He is grounded!” my ex yelled in my ear as I flipped open my phone and the bluish light filled the room. My girlfriend draped her hand over her eyes shielding the glare. “This is unacceptable!” he bellowed.

“I agree,” I said.

“I just got ahold of him him and I let him have it! He needs to call you. I asked him to call you and let you know where he would be!” he yelled.

“I know,” I said.

“And it’s getting late and we both didn’t know where he was. He could have been anywhere in that car!” he said.

“You’re right,” I said.

“And he doesn’t know what it is like for a father to worry!” he yelled again, getting a little louder.

“Yes,” I said.

“And I have to be up at 6am to drive a shipment of furniture to Falmouth and I can’t sleep because he could have been anywhere. He is grounded!” he yelled.

“Yes, I know,” I said.

“And I just let him have it! He has every tool at his disposal, he can call, he can text us. He was supposed to call you and let you know and he never answered me. I’ve been calling all night. I left him four messages!” he yelled.

“I know, Jim,” I said.

“I let him have it because he doesn’t know what it is like for a father! He doesn’t know! He has this car now and…”

“Jim, go to bed,” I said.

I held the phone away from my ear and looked over at my girlfriend beside me in the blue glow just as the front door opened and shut.

“He’s home. I’ll talk to him now. Goodnight,” I said and flipped cellphone closed with a click.

“I’ll just be a second,” I said to my girlfriend while I pulled on my shirt that I grabbed from the bedside chair in the dark.

“I’m sorry mom,” said my oldest teen shuffling through the dark house with his head down.” Dad really scared me.”

“Well I think you really scared your father. You just don’t know what it is like for a father. And he is mad because is he still awake and needs to be up in a few hours for work” I said. “Go to bed now and we’ll talk tomorrow.”

***

Now I look back to my safe and sound teen in his plaid shirt and cargo shorts lounging beside me on his lawn chair.

“Can you believe its really summer, dude?” he shouts to his brother across the yard and stretches his legs out in front of him.

“I know, dog. I can’t believe it,” the younger teen shouts back.

My ex is even more animated now and others begin laughing. I mention something about college to the teen and ask a question about his girlfriend.

“We’re chill mom, I think we’re just really dramatic that’s all… don’t worry so much,” he says to me smiling his broad white teeth smile and turns his attention to his brother.

He gives him an upward nod of his head as if to say, let’s get going and the younger teen returns the gesture with one of his own, nodding to his side in the direction of the blue father’s day envelope still sitting on his dad’s lap. The older teen answers with a silent chin up in recognition. All this to mean that no-one is leaving until dad opens his father’s day card.

They both catch their father in a rare lull in the conversation.

“Dad, open your card.” they say.

“Ahh my card,” says my ex, as he swigs his lemonade again and starts tearing into the envelope.

On father’s day, Dad, I have only one thing to say my ex reads aloud to everyone and slowly opens it up to read the inside.
Pull my finger. He grabs the little tab on the side of the card as it lets out a recorded farting noise. Both teens start laughing hysterically as my ex pulls the tab out slowly and says, “Hey guys, listen to this one. He really had it all stored up, didn’t he? BWAHHH!”

I look over at my girlfriend who has since moved her chair closer to mine and grabbed my hand to hold.

“Why is that funny?” I ask her.

“Don’t ask. It’s a guy thing,” she says back.

I smile as the two boys stand up now to give their dad an embrace goodbye, car keys jingling in my older teens’ free hand hanging by his side. I take a sip of my lemonade and watch the most important men in my life give their dad a hug as he whispers something in their ears for none of the rest of us to hear.

Because, you know, it’s a father thing.

Written by kmguay

June 20, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized