Life with Teenagers

Posts Tagged ‘divorce

statistically speaking

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n541933000_820157_846My 16-yr-old and his girlfriend sit side by side at the computer desk. She holds a paperback book in front of her face and he leans in front of her to grab and click around with the mouse on the opposite side. “Facebook isn’t homework,” I say on my way by, passing through the dining room still dragging the vacuum cleaner by the handle behind me. He flips the screen off and opens up a word doc. In the top right hand corner he has typed his name, the date, and the words “statistics paper”.

“I see you have made great progress in the last hour,” I say, pausing to grab the pile of paperwork on the dining table with my free hand.
The screen flips off and on again showcasing the drivers ed website.
“We’ve finished the schedule you wanted me to make,” he says, motioning to the papers on the desk “Take a look, mom.”

“The schedule?” I try not to sound as amazed and tense as I feel. Only days earlier, my girlfriend put her hand on my knee under the table in one of her “easy now” gestures as mom and teen both started to raise their voices. “No drivers ed until I see a detailed schedule of all of your commitments!” was my decree to a scowling overwrought teen sitting in front of a half eaten plate of food.

And then again the next night, I wailed in the darkness of the bedroom “He is overextended, It’s going to be like last year, He won’t finish homework, He will fail out of high school.”
“Shhhhh okay, okay,” she said. “But Kris, you are going to have to help him with this schedule, you know that right? He is going to need your help.”

“Mom, can you look at the schedule?” he asks again and from across the room I start firing questions.
“Did you fit in the three nights I need you home for dinner?
“Yep.”
“How about your leaders meetings?”
“Thursday nights.”
“And your job?”
“Three afternoons from three to six.”
“And is there time for homework?”
“Yep.”
“And what about your girlfriend, did you save some time for her?” His girlfriend gives him a playful nudge on his arm and he smiles back at me.
“Yeah she’s in there too.”

I don’t have a comeback for all this forethought and organization.
“Just get that paper done and I’ll look closely at it later,” I call out from the kitchen now while starting to clear off the cutting board. The front door opens and closes and I hear my girlfriend adressing the teens in the other room. I lean over to search under the cabinet for the metal mixing bowl as she turns the corner ranting about her exasperating day.
“And I get all the way there and I realize that I forgot the cleaning so I have to turn back again. Oh and then!”
I pull out the container of olives from the fridge, the block of parmesan cheese, a lemon, and the container of mesclun greens and start piling them on the counter. She stands directly in front of me for a moment, catching my eyes. “Enough about me, how was your day?”
“My son did his schedule” I whisper.
“What!? Oh my god, that’s great!” she whispers back. “God damn!”
I dump the greens into the bowl and douse them with a squeeze of the lemon and juice runs down my hand and arm.
“Wow! I’m really proud of that boy. Kris, that is great,” she says again handing me a towel.
“I know I know, but…” I say and the “I know buts” start to pour out of my mouth as easily as the olive oil that slides out of the overturned bottle I shake onto the greens.
“Kris,” she says again, “Really, it is great.”

And it IS great. So why am I so skeptical? Why is my first reaction so often a critical doubting one? I’m not like this with his brother.
“That’s because you have no faith in me, mom!” These words have often assaulted me, spraying forth from my oldest son’s mouth in the kitchen while both of us yell back and forth at each other. And he is right. I have a very hard time having faith in him.

He is a lot like his father and not much like his brother. He has his father’s easy loving way, his fast-talking storytelling ease, his humor. They both can light up a room, shine in the spotlight at a party, go out of their way to help a stranger. But I didn’t have any faith in his father either. For reasons I couldn’t even explain at the time, I wanted more from my marriage and I was sure he couldn’t give it to me. I wanted out.

We carry the plates of salad through the dining room and over to the living room couch, passing by the teen who is now rapidly typing away at his paper.
“So why are you writing a paper on statistics anyway?” my girlfriend asks taking a stab at the lettuce on her plate with a fork, “I thought this class was more about numbers and word problems?”

“Mr Fahazad wants us to write about why statistics matter, how they make a difference in the world, how they relate to me, “he says. He rattles off talk of how they are important to coaches, how you rely on them when you check the weather, etc…. and my girlfriend listens and nods in approval back at him while eating her salad. And as they talk, my mind starts to wander. What do I know about statistics that I can add to the conversation except that I am one? A divorced woman who just left another long term relationship only a year ago. I have read the statistics that say that pretty much half of all marriages end in divorce. And if you are foolish enough to even attempt to test fate again and choose to get remarried, according to the statistics, almost 70% of us hopeless humans will file for divorce again.

But in love and parenting, should you follow the statistical evidence? Or should you just follow your heart? What do I really care about what the statistics say when I look over and see my girlfriend patting my slacker teen on the back for his great job of thinking through the assignment and doing the work? No, my odds are on my third and last attempt to find the right partner. And I’d put all my money on my teen’s ability to surprise me despite what appears to be an overwhelming mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Now, just don’t anybody tell Mr. Fahazad.

Written by kmguay

September 16, 2009 at 1:26 am