Life with Teenagers

a little take away

with 4 comments


“Hey son, looks like there are 11 chicken fingers so I’ll take five and you can have six,” the younger teen calls out to the older teen. He is leaning back away from the table and shouting out through the opening of my girlfriend’s kitchen doorway. “Dude, I said you can have six of the chicken fingers,” he calls again while spooning piles of rice dotted with glistening peas and streaks of yellow egg ribbons onto his plate.

I’m standing at the counter wrestling a wire handle on the white cardboard box to get at the two squat egg rolls inside. “Just make yourself a plate and grab a napkin,” I say. “We’ll eat in the living room with the TV on tonight. I can’t deal.”

“Yeah mom, we’ll just do what every other normal family does,” says the younger teen carrying his plate with him in the direction of the refrigerator. “You have juice for the seltzer, right?”

“Well, its not normal to me, but it’s just too damn cold and miserable out and all I do is work lately,” I say brushing back the hair from my eyes.

I hoist up my red plaid flannel pajama bottoms and turn over the waistband. The pants are sagging at the knees from days of wear and they bunch up at the bottom where they meet the top of the brown fleece slippers on my feet. Outside the square lamplights cast an orange glow onto the crusty snow piled high on either side of the now narrow driveway. I zip my fleece sweatshirt zipper up as high as it will go until it makes a turtleneck. “How cold is it out there guys?” I ask my older teen who is now at the kitchen table scooping maroon colored pork strips onto his plate with a spoon. I look past his backward ballcap and his pants hanging low on his behind as he bends over the table and frown instead at the window directly above him frosted with ice crystals around the edges. It’s been snowing for weeks and any remaining trace of my optimism has been plowed away with the latest driveway slush.

The older teen calls out to his brother in the living room. “What are we watching, dog?”

“Grab a napkin on your way in there.” I say, pointing to the basket filled with rolled up red cloths.

“I think we should have some wine with this,” says my girlfriend standing beside me now and pouring hot and sour soup into two small ceramic bowls.

“Hell yeah,” I say and grab the wine bottle and two large goblets as I make my way into the living room.

The younger teen is already sitting on the edge of the leather couch with his plate of food before him on the glass-top coffee table. I push my girlfriend’s box of tissues over and grab the edge of the wool blanket to wrap around me as I sit beside him. I close up my macbook on the table and slide it over to the side. My girlfriend arrives to sit on my right and places two more plates of food on the table.

“What are we watching? she asks the younger teen.

The Office?” he answers.

“Ugh no, I hate The Office, find something we can all stand,” I say, while stuffing one end of an egg roll into my mouth.

Law and Order?”he asks.

“I can watch that,” says the older teen now sauntering in with his overloaded plate of Chinese food.

“We can always watch Law and Order,” says my girlfriend now grabbing for a tissue from the box across the table at the start of a sneeze.

“Where do I sit? asks the older teen to the three of us squeezed together on the couch wrapped in a blanket.

“You take the chair,” I say pointing to the red kilim chair positioned at an angle a few feet from the TV. I grab a crab rangoon from off of the younger teen’s plate and pop it in my mouth. “mmm these are pretty good.”

“They’re dope,” says the older teen picking up the star shaped fried bundle with his fingers and slouching back in the too small chair with his long legs outstretched before him.

For 15 minutes we all stare at the TV and eat the Chinese food in silence.

“I don’t even know what’s going in in this show,” I finally say out loud. “Does anyone know what is going on?”

“I can tell you, mom,” says the older teen as he starts launching into the plot intricacies. I’m looking straight at him, yet I can’t really follow the story he is telling me anymore than the one I was just watching. I’m lost instead in my own thoughts, head spinning with irksome worries about the taxes that need to be done, the car still in the shop, the financial aid paperwork, and the new job with its long to-do list of tasks.

“Dude, we need to head back to dad’s soon,” says the younger teen to his brother. “And mom’s not listening to you.”

I notice how the new lamp we just bought shines a spotlight on the painting on the wall – the one with the ice blue branches that look like winter, like nighttime, like a full moon shining into the middle of a cold dark forest. I feel a shiver run down my spine. Any minute now the teens will be leaving and another winter workday will begin. What will I take away from this family time when I can’t even stay focused on the present for more than a few minutes?

I reach over to the teen by my side and pull his shoulder toward me. He gives me a little grin and leans over to lie alongside me on the couch and lets me stroke his black silky hair for the briefest of moments. The only moments that matter at all.

“One more Law and Order guys?” I ask as episode number two begins to play its familiar opening refrain.

“Word, I’m in for one more. Let’s do it, dog” says the older teen to the younger teen.

“You got it, son.”

Advertisements

Written by kmguay

February 3, 2011 at 5:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2010 in review

leave a comment »


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 9 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 28 posts. There were 42 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 53mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 14th with 56 views. The most popular post that day was it’s a father thing.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, milforddailynews.com, boston.com, blogs.milforddailynews.com, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for teenagers life, pink lady apples, 2teen, kris guay, and life of teenagers.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

it’s a father thing June 2010
2 comments

2

About August 2009
2 comments

3

hook me up with a pink lady January 2010
1 comment

4

Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter August 2010
2 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

5

the snooze button October 2010
1 comment

Written by kmguay

January 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

let the eating begin

leave a comment »


Written by kmguay

November 24, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

the snooze button

with 2 comments



“Honey, where are you? Will you be back in time?” I ask my girlfriend while holding the phone in one hand and my hairbrush in the other.

“I’m on my way right now,” she says. “How about I bring us some egg sandwiches with the coffee. What does the teen want?”

“He’s not even up yet, and I can’t get the station to come in. How did you do?” I ask her, pressing the phone to my ear on my way into the darkened bedroom.

“Hey babe, get up,” I say to the teen buried under a mound of blankets. “It’s almost time for your brother’s show.”

“I’ve got the station on right now,” my girlfriend says. “It comes in fine in the car. I’m on my way.”

“Ok, we’ll meet you out in the driveway in fifteen minutes,” I reply.

I put the phone down on the bedside table and start turning the white plastic rod of the miniblinds to let the morning sunlight flood the room. The younger teen on the bottom bunk peeks his head out from beneath the blue jean quilt on his bed.

“Get up hon, we’ve got ten minutes. Just throw on clothes and you take Treat, I say. “We can listen from the car.”

I start grabbing laundry from the floor on my way down the hall, grab my cellphone from the desk, the dog’s leash from the table, my fleece jacket from where I left it strewn across the living room chair. I hear the teen start to shuffle to the bathroom and close the door.

“You’ve got five minutes,” I call out, seated at the computer again, everything I just gathered now in a pile at my feet on the floor. I’m scouring the website for news about the radio show my son is hosting at 9:00 am. Except I can’t find it.

“Mom, do you have any money? my older teen asked at 8:00 am on his way out the door, his hand outstretched toward me holding my red wallet.

“Take the eight bucks and eat something,” I said, handing him the crumpled bills. “And you better go now. It’s at 9:00 am right?”

“Yes mom, try to listen,” he said running out the front door, cash in one hand and the other holding up his sagging jeans.

“I don’t know,” I say to the younger teen who is now out of the bathroom and dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, “I don’t see it. Maybe he got the day and the time wrong?”

“You all ready? says my girlfriend who is back now and carrying a cardboard tray with two large cups of coffee, making her way toward the kitchen. The younger teen grabs the dog on his leash and my car keys from the pile.

“I’ll go start the car and turn on the heat” he says.

“You go with him,” says my girlfriend. “I’m just going to heat up the coffee quick.”

I follow the teen out to the front porch and the autumn air stings my face. Across the street, the maple tree is ablaze in orange and I linger a bit in the driveway to listen to dozens of invisible birds cheeping loudly from my neighbors bushes now tinged on the edges in red and gold.

“Mom, where is the blueberry muffin?” the younger teen asks me from the front seat of my silver Toyota parked on an incline at the bottom of the driveway. I’m squeezing myself in the back seat beside the dog while my son hands me an egg sandwich wrapped in paper. The heat is blasting from the dash and the AM radio is running through a block of commercials. My girlfriend behind me enters the front seat and starts doling out coffee cups, napkins, and an orange juice container for the teen.

“No muffin? asks my girlfriend searching in the paper bags and adjusting the drivers seat. “Damn, we have to go back.” She starts backing the car up the long steep driveway. I sip my coffee and watch the foliage whiz by my window. I feel bad about doubting the older teen, but I do.

At dinner the night before, the younger teen bolted up from the table, dropping his dirty plate in the sink and slamming the TV room door as his mom and brother continued their heated college discussion.

“I don’t see you making any films now do I?” I said raising my voice.
“That’s real nice mom,” said the older teen while shooting me a fiery squinted-eye stare from across the table. “Don’t you ever say that again. Don’t you doubt my passion ever!”
I tried to breathe and lowered my voice.
“I’m just saying its not that simple. Passion isn’t always enough. You still need to take the classes you don’t like. You need to do homework. You need to make it to class on time. Who is going to wake you up after you’ve hit the snooze button four times? huh? You have to get yourself there.”
The older teen started tugging at his bottom lip. In a matter of moments, I watched his whole body language change, his shoulders slump. Did I just do that? I thought to myself.
“I’m just going to end up teaching little kids I guess because that’s the only thing I’m good at.” he said quietly with his head down.
“Honey, that’s not what I meant,” I tried to say. But I’m not exactly sure what I meant at all. What is it I’m so afraid of?”

The car is now parked in front of the coffee shop. I take another swig of my coffee and turn my gaze from the side window back to my younger teen in the front seat fiddling with the radio.
“Mom! this is it!” he exclaims turning the volume up loud. “This is the opening music he chose for the show!”

“Hey everyone, welcome to The Snooze Button. I’m your host Connor, this is Corey, ‘hello’ and I’m Connor too” say the three voices.

It’s my son’s voice alright, but it sounds smoother and deeper, like a real radio personality. My girlfriend sees us with our thumbs up in the air waving in the front windshield as she makes her way back to the car.

“He’s on! ” I say. “Oh my god, listen to him! He’s great! I can’t believe how good he sounds.”

“Call your father,” I say to the younger teen. “Here, use my phone.”

“He isn’t answering, mom.” says the teen. “You know dad, he’s probably too nervous to listen.”

“Try him again.” I say. “Oh my god, your brother is the bomb. I can say that right?”

“Yes, mom, you can say that.”

“I mean, you still say that word, right? I say. “Now I think I’m going to cry.”

“Your mother is so adorable back there,” says my girlfriend catching my eyes in the rear view mirror.

“Here’s dad,” says the teen flipping open his buzzing cellphone.

Muffled screaming pours out from the open phone.

“Holy Shit!” yells my ex. “Holy shit, that’s him on the air. I didn’t even know it was him. Holy Shit!”

“We want to be a positive voice for teens. We want to be a positive voice for everyone” says the older teen from the car speaker.

And in this moment, as I listen to my son on the radio with my whole family in the car, I suddenly get it. A real wake-up call. What if I actually tried hitting the snooze button on my own negative commentary once in awhile? Couldn’t I step back and take a lesson from my teen as he talks about being a positive voice for the teen perspective. In this moment, he isn’t worried about the future, or about making a mistake, or about getting it wrong. Instead, here he is, on the airwaves, testing out his dreams in real time. And doing better than he expected even. Isn’t that how it works? And when did I fall back asleep and forget this wisdom that I already knew?

“Don’t hit that snooze button” say the three boys, their voices in unison. “We’ll be right back after this short commercial break.”

Written by kmguay

October 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter

with 3 comments



“Do you see them yet?” I ask my girlfriend as I shift the red cooler on the ground and whip open my cellphone to text another message. I am standing on the patch of lawn with a wide stance, shifting my weight from one hip to the other. To my left a young couple are eating slices of pizza on a multicolor yarn-dyed blanket. Behind me, five people with low folding beach chairs start setting up all in a line. I try to make my stance a little wider and shift the cooler a little further away from my girlfriend’s backpack. She is standing as well, looking around to her right for the older teen.

“Here comes one,” she says. I turn quick to see the red block letters that spell out NY Film Academy against a white t-shirt and my teen’s trademark lumber and sway making his way up the winding paved path. My cellphone buzzes in my hand and I flip it open to read:Mom, we’re here. Where are you? Dad is a grouch.

Before I can text back, I spot the two of them at the far end of the lawn way up front near the stage. My ex has a chair strapped to his back and a cooler in one hand and another chair in his other hand. My teen stands three feet in front of him, scanning the crowd and also holding a folding chair in each hand. Even from a distance I can see the scowl on my ex’s face. I wave.

“Mom, do we have enough room here? The older teen has arrived and he collapses onto his back on the lawn where we are standing.

“Dad and your brother are here now with the chairs. Are you hungry?” I ask already unzipping the cooler bag and fishing my hand inside to grab the cellophane wrapped sandwiches. Over the stage in the distance, an orange sun ball hangs like a puppet in the hazy summer evening. It is just starting to dip into the trees and disappear from view. The sky above us is that expansive twilight blue just tinged with a bit of pink.

“Wow, will you look at how beautiful it is out,” I say to my girlfriend but she has her back to me now negotiating all of us to move one row back so that the five picnic-less and short chair people behind us won’t be blocked by our family. I wave a sandwich over my teen’s outstretched body.

“Mom, I don’t want it now. I have a stomachache,” he says.

“Did you eat today? What did you eat?” I ask.

“I’m just not hungry, he says while flipping open his cellphone to text.

“I bet it’s not about hunger at all,” I say to my girlfriend under my breath and motion my head in the direction of the teen frantically texting on his phone.

“You have to eat something, just have a half sandwich,” I say and push an unwrapped roast beef and cheddar on ciabatta in front of his face.

“Mom, I don’t want it.”

“Easy now,” my girlfriend whispers while putting her hand on my arm.

“Are you hungry?” I ask my girlfriend as she starts grabbing chairs from the other two as they approach our patch of lawn. The younger teen moves as far away from his father as he can get.

“Is this enough room mom?” he asks unfolding his chair.

“Here have a sandwich,” I say throwing a tightly wrapped tuna salad in walnut cranberry bread and a bag of lightly salted kettle chips at my ex-husband just as he sits on the grass.

“Don’t you want a chair? I ask him, but I’m looking away from him at the oldest teen off to the side who is twisting his long fingers in a gnarled mess of double jointed, circus sideshow knots and staring out into the trees.

“No, I’m fine. I want the grass,” my ex says. “The traffic sucked.” He bends his body in a strained U shape, legs tucked up near his chin and leans all his weight on one rigid straight arm behind him.

“Have a sandwich,” I say, tossing one to my girlfriend on her lap and another to my younger teen as he settles in to his blue folding chair. I grab my iced green tea and unpack the container of chocolate chip cookies, the white frosted cake and spread them out in the last patch of grass just as the production begins.

For hours as the sky turns from inky blue to black, Shakespeare players take turns on the stage. My ex and both teens stare rapt ahead, and from time to time nudge each other in the arm at a familiar line or famous soliloquy from Iago. I run through my own soliloquies from the morning.

“Mom, just shut it ok?” he said to me this morning, trudging down the road in his unlaced white sneakers and holding his foil-wrapped burrito and film binder in one hand with his cellphone flipped open in the other hand. I had just finished my latest lecture on what constitutes a healthy relationship.

“Its not unfair, and its not selfish to tell her you are busy at camp for a week. You have the right. And you don’t have to take on her problems,” I said.

“You don’t get it, mom. I can’t be like that. I can’t just not care,” he said.

And he has a point. When is it caring about someone else and their problems and when is it standing up for yourself and your own needs? And if Othello can’t tell what is real and what is not, why do I expect my teen to do the same?

“Mom, really, you had to laugh in the middle of the death scene?” My youngest teen says to me as the crowd stands clapping for one more entrance of bowing actors on the stage.

“Sorry bud, at that moment it was just funny, they were all stabbing each other and then I looked over at J dog and she was motionless with her head back and her eyes closed.

“What time is it? my younger teen asks. I wipe frosting off of the knife, snap the lid back on the clear plastic cookie container, and gather up empty glass bottles of peach iced tea.

“It’s late,” I say.

We all stumble behind my ex with his lawn chair strapped to his back as he leads the way through crowds of milling people to the underground garage. The cool summer wind at 11:30 pm starts to swell and I watch in awe as it bends and sways the branches of tree canopies that dot the grey green and glowing moonlit lawn of the Boston Common. We are all teetering in sleepy single file and I’m walking the thin line in my mind between giving advice and meddling. One push too far and I lose my teen’s trust that I am someone he can talk to. Not enough pushing and I can’t sleep at night.

“Honey?” I ask him as we walk.

“What IS it mom?” he says.

This is the night. That either makes me or fordoes me quite.

“Nothing,” I say as I smile back and my girlfriend gives my hand a squeeze.

Written by kmguay

August 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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

no bar mitzvah? how about a buick?

with one comment


Written by kmguay

April 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized