Life with Teenagers

Posts Tagged ‘food

away we go

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“I’m going to take him out one more time,” says my girlfriend crouching down in the kitchen fastening a leash to the dog’s harness. I catch a glimpse of them on my way by in the hallway that connects my bedroom to the TV room. I’m carrying my square red kilim hassock over my head and twisting my body sideways to fit through the doorway. I do a quick scan of the teen TV room as I plop the hassock down in front of the couch. Piles of school books lean against the leather chair in the corner, glasses are strewn about on the floor. I count seven. The quilt I just washed is bunched up under the table by the window. And two grayish popovers, that at one time were socks, balance on the outdoor lawn furniture tables the older teen has been using as a catch-all for used tissues, red riccola wrappers and toenail clippings. I clear off the tables and carry all seven glasses to the kitchen sink.

“Mom, I’m going to go skate,” says the younger teen now materializing from out of nowhere and zipping up his black and multicolor hooded skateboarding jacket with the fleece lining and peering into an open refrigerator.
“It’s dark out and it’s cold. Where are you going?” I ask, my back to him, turning the flame off under the teapot on the stove.
“Just to Horace, mom, we don’t have school tomorrow and I already did all my homework.”
“Be back at 10pm,” I say and away he goes, breezing past my girlfriend now back in the kitchen with a spinning dog at her feet. I pour boiling water into two cups adorned with green wrappers hanging by strings that read sadaf. I place two small cookies that look like cake mounds coated with shiny white icing and tiny rainbow colored balls the size of kosher salt sprinkles on a plate as my girlfriend stretches over my shoulder to grab the dog treats from the cabinet above me.

I take a cup and a plate and lead the way into the TV room. “What shall we watch?” I say, pointing to the remote control, covering the two of us with the quilt as we flop on the couch. I flip open the cellphone that is buzzing in my pocket. The text reads: “What time do I need to be home and can you pick me up?”
“I’m watching a movie,” I text back. ” When it’s over.”
The credits start but I’m still looking at my cellphone, scrolling through the unerased messages. Earlier in the day, my friend called me at work to say that one of her friends had just died.
“What? but we just found out about the hospice. How could this happen so fast?” I asked.
“Yeah, I know. I thought I’d have more time to talk to her,” she said. “Now she is gone.”
I stare at a text of the details now on the tiny lit up screen in the dark. It reads: The wake is Friday. The funeral is Saturday. I read the text a few more times and look over at my girlfriend on the couch beside me.
“This is the best cookie ever,” she says to me. I grab her hand under the quilt and flip the phone closed shut with the other.

Soon the younger teen is back opening the door a crack. “You’re watching a movie?” he says.
“Looks that way doesn’t it” I reply.
“Mom, Greg’s sister is 18 and she has her license.” He has moved into the room fully and sits across from us on the leather chair. “So tomorrow a bunch of us are thinking of going into Boston and”
“No,” I say.
“Mom, why not? We’re going to go skate.”
“You are too young for Boston. Just no.”
“Time for popcorn!” my girlfriend says pausing the movie.
“Yes, good idea,” I say. “We’ll talk about it later.” And away we go, teen storming out of the doorway putting his jacket back on, me off of the couch heading in the direction of the kitchen with the dog following behind.

I pour oil in my big dutch oven pan and listen to a rainfall of popcorn kernels hitting the bottom as I cover it completely, turn the flame to high, and leave the lid on askew. I search the cabinets for salt and melt a pat of butter in the microwave in a plastic measuring cup with a spout. My cellphone vibrates again and it’s my older teen.
“Mom, her mom says I need to leave at 10:00 and if you don’t get me I have to walk.”
“I don’t want you walking.” I say. “Why can’t she just drive you home now?”
“She’s in her pajamas and she wants to go to bed and she can’t leave us alone downstairs.”
I look down at my own red flowered flannel pajamas and dump the popped corn from the overturned pot into a big metal mixing bowl. I look at the clock on the wall. 9:35.
“Ok, I’ll pick you up at 10:00. Be ready.” I shake salt, pour the butter and carry the bowl back to the TV room.

My girlfriend reaches for the bowl and unpauses the movie. On the screen the main female character is sitting next to the main male character and she is saying something like:

“I think we might be fuck-ups.”
“No we are not fuck-ups,” he says back to her gently.
“I think we might be,” she says back. “We might be fuckups.”

I look at my girlfriend and grab a handful of popcorn. “Do you think I said no to him too fast? I didn’t let his brother go into Boston alone until this past year though.”
Through her crunching it sounds like she says, “I don’t think you handled it wrong.” But I decide not to ask again because my cellphone is vibrating.
“Mom, I think you should come get me now. She doesn’t want me here anymore.” reads the text.
“I have to go pick up a teen,” I say to my girlfriend. She pauses the TV again and gathers cups and plates while starting to rise from the couch. I pass the younger teen on my way to the front door searching for my keys. He is brooding in the dark on my couch and texting on his cellphone.
“Is everyone going to Boston tomorrow?” I ask.
“Don’t know” he mutters.
I stand in the dark waiting for something more to say but realize that no matter what he decides to tell me, my answer will still be no. I can feel my resolve as palpable as even his brooding silence.

Finally I say, “I have to go pick up your brother now.” And away I go.


Written by kmguay

November 15, 2009 at 4:56 pm

chuck norris

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chuck-norris-002-thumb-400x498 When I get home my ex is already in the teen room flopped on the couch. His keys are on the kitchen counter next to the half empty 3 for $10 bottle of wine and the package of eight portobellos in shrinkwrap. The sink is full of dirty dishes and the dryer is full of unfolded clothes. I look at the clock. It’s already after 7:00.

This is the critical moment of despair, when I just want to give up and call for take out or get into my sweats, grab a container of hummus and some pita bread, and type a facebook status line that says “Mom’s not cooking. Fend” while I dig into the container with my scrap of bread and pretend to do something useful like online Scrabble. OR, I can rally and honor my bright idea to invite my ex to join us at the kitchen table for a little full family face time while whipping up a fast weeknight dinner of… of… (I look over again at the prepackaged portobellos I asked him to buy) something with mushrooms.

I begin washing dishes while my youngest teen walks through the kitchen.
“Hold on there, I could use some help. Start setting the table,” I say to him as I dig through the pile and haul out the dirty grill pan from the bottom.
“What’s for dinner?” he asks with a frown.
“I don’t know yet. I’m going to make it up,” I say back, now scrubbing my cherished pan like a madwoman. I can hear my ex and oldest teen screaming at the TV and I walk a few steps to the refrigerator, reach a soapy wet hand to open the door and look inside.

Sesame bread. Baba ganoush. A red pepper, those mushrooms on the counter, jack cheese. Paninis it is. And there is a container of butternut squash soup in the cabinet. Good. Curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, mexican chile powder.

I switch from the sink to the stove to heat up some olive oil in the now clean and dry grill pan. Next, I furiously chop the portobellos and red pepper, dump them in the oil, and blast on the burner flame to high just as my ex wanders through the kitchen with his box of crackers in his hand. He’s still yelling at the TV, now more than ten steps away from it, and pouring himself a second glass from the already half empty bottle.
“Hey save me some and get out of here – it’s not ready, and you’re in my way” I say.
“Thanks for inviting me, chicken” he says. I glare at him to get out. The sink is still a mess, and the younger teen has set a haphazard table, missing flatware and glasses.
“Go grab the extra chair and the big glass with the candle in it,” I say to the teen, sidestepping my ex while yanking the little pull tab atop the box of butternut soup. The soup pours out in big splashy glubs, showering the top of the stove with pinprick dots of bright yellow. I brush the hair out of my eye that has just fallen from my headband and back up into my older teen, who is now also standing in the kitchen and hilariously laughing in a silent, open-mouthed laugh while trying to get his father’s attention.
“Dad…” he taps him on the back of the shoulder while my ex is moving chairs into position and arranging glasses above each white plate and beside a napkin.
“Dad.” Tap. Tap. “Dad, my friend just texted me another one. Dad, you gotta listen to this. Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a condom,” he says. His father turns around now and looks at him with full intent and his trademark Sponge Bob grin.
“Yeah?” he asks back.
The teen tries to compose himself and repeats the joke. “Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a condom, because there is no protection from Chuck Norris.” The room erupts in laughter. Teen number one stops to hold onto the edge of the chair while bending over. Father and older teen pat each other on the back with hilarity. I flip over the paninis I have since assembled in the pan.
“What’s so funny about that?,” I ask.
“Oh my god, mom, you don’t know Chuck Norris jokes?” one of them says back.
“No, I don’t,” I say and start ladling the butternut soup that is bubbling at the edges of the pan into small white bowls. I hand one to my ex who places it on the first white plate. He sits, and both teens follow his lead, pulling back their chairs to sit as well.
“Kris, it was the funniest thing,” my ex says to me, already spooning into his soup. “We’re in the car, me and my boy up front, and this one – he motions to the younger teen beside him – this one is in the back seat, and you know how he is, he’s like you, he’s so funny. Out of nowhere, he just says “Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door,” and we nearly drove off the road, we were laughing so hard.”
“That’s nice, boys,” I say, carrying a panini balanced on a spatula over to each plate. I slide them off one at a time, near the bowl of soup.

“If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more than you.”

“When Chuck Norris falls out of a boat he dosn’t get wet the water gets Chuck Norrised.”

“Chuck Norris counted to infinity-twice.”

“Chuck Norris doesn’t mow his lawn, he stands outside and dares it to grow.”

“Chuck Norris can fry ants with a magnifying glass. At night.”

And with that one, I choke on a little bit of crust and start to laugh myself. That one was funny. The sheer absurdity of Chuck Norris jokes at the dinner table start to wipe away any care I still have lodged in my body. Any aching between my shoulders, any stiffness in my lower back.

Chuck Norris can fry an ant with a magnifying glass. At night.

What do I care about my long train commute, my dirty kitchen, the undone tasks waiting for me at work tomorrow? Tonight, I have Chuck Norris at my dinner table. I look around and all three of my boys are laughing. I get up and go to the freezer and grab four packaged ice cream sandwiches and hand them out. For another five minutes, all of us silently unwrap our ice cream man treats and eat them slowly as they melt, ripped white paper wrappers strewn about over dirty plates, each person happier than anyone has ever been before.

Even Chuck Norris.

Written by kmguay

October 14, 2009 at 2:46 am

Posted in family

Tagged with , , , ,

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?
“How about your leaders meetings?”
“Thursday nights.”
“And your job?”
“Three afternoons from three to six.”
“And is there time for homework?”
“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

mamas got a big butt

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“What’s for dinner mom?” says one of the teens passing me on his way through the kitchen.

I’m standing at the cutting board chopping lettuce, tomatoes, and yellow pepper and tossing them in my big metal mixing bowl. I motion to the bowl of pasta I just removed from the microwave and slid over to the side on the counter.

“Sweet! mac and cheese,” he says.

“Yep,” I answer back, “Just a little. And you and I can split this small piece of meatball calzone.”

I lean over to the oven and open the door to reveal two bread wrapped meat, cheese, and sauce wedges bubbling at the edges. I grab one and slice it in half into two tiny squares. I fill up more than half of our two plates with salad, the rest with two small spoonfuls of pasta and a postage-size piece of calzone. I fill the 16-yr-old’s plate full with a huge wedge, a pile of macaroni and not so much as a hint of a lettuce leaf and place all three plates on the table.

“Mom this is awesome,” says the 16-yr-old barely sitting and already with his mouth full of meat. “Hey listen.”

He motions to his brother and starts to rap.

I like big butts and I cannot lie”

The other teen chimes right in and they both sing in unison.

“You other brothers can’t deny”

Now they tap their hands together on the side of the table.

“When a girl walks in with that itty bitty waist, and that round thing all up in your face. You get sprung.”

The two of them break into laughter.

“That’s nice guys,” I say while taking a sip from my wine glass and shaking my head.

But ironically, my own butt has been on my mind all day. I have a wedding to attend on the weekend and a limited wardrobe these days. I take another sip of my wine and start contemplating my clothing options.

“So mom,” says the 16-yr-old sitting directly across from me, “I don’t understand why you don’t go for those really hot girly girl types.”

He stabs a forkful of noodles and jams them in his mouth. I’m way too weary for this tonight and so I try to change the subject.

“Are you wearing your brother’s shirt?” I say.

The other teen speaks up, “You bought him that shirt remember? And it had a long sleeve one too that went-”

“Yeah but I like it alone just as a t-shirt” his brother interrupts.

“And you bought him those skinny jeans. I like my skinny jeans too.” He stands up and backs away from the table to show me the full length of his jean-clad lower body.

“I think they look good on you,” I say back offering encouragement where its needed. And then I add, “Ugh. I don’t know when I’m going to feel good in a pair of jeans again.”

“You are not fat, mom,” says the 14-yr-old.

“Oh my god, I just let out the biggest fart,” says the 16-yr-old.

Ok, now the meal is officially over. I get up and take my wine glass with me into the other room. One teen heads straight for the bathroom, flipping on the fan and closing the door. The other teen sits himself down at the computer and starts instantly clicking away at the keyboard. And I catch a glimpse of myself in the wall-sized mirror on my way through the dining room to the living room. Even though I know better, I can’t resist the urge to turn my body sideways and try to look over one shoulder to get a good view of my backside.

“Does my butt look big?” I ask.

“Mom! that is like, so wrong on eight different levels, he says shaking his head at me now.

And I have to laugh because of course it is. It is so wrong. There is absolutely no right way to answer that question. My ex-husband doesn’t even try anymore and instead will look directly at me and say, “Oh no. I’m not touching that.” And my patient, thoughtful girlfriend will listen to me endlessly bemoan the the state of my body with its extra pounds of late and when I’m finally finished will pause and say something wonderful such as: “You are beautiful and I love your body and you know that I will support you with whatever you need.”



You know that I will support you with whatever you need?

Oh my god she thinks I AM fat. This is the thought that storms through my mind in a rush of panic. But I would never say anything back. I wouldn’t set her up for a game she can’t win.

No, there is no right way to answer the, “Does my butt look fat?” question. Unless, of course, you live with two teenage boys who honestly don’t have an opinion about the size of their mother’s behind. I contemplate all this while I turn my body in the other direction in front of the mirror, craning my neck to get another glimpse.

“Mom! for the last time you are not fat. You do not have a big butt,” says the teen at the computer who sees me do this a second time.

And he actually means it.

Ok, I’ll stop now. I’ll take it. I’ll take it and let up on myself for the rest of the night. I’ll consider it my reward. My reward and retribution for what just happened in the bathroom.

Written by kmguay

September 10, 2009 at 3:55 am

Posted in family, mothers, teenagers

Tagged with , , ,

first day

with 6 comments

may visit 2008 016“I’m not hungry anymore and I’m not going to eat.” This is the text from my 14-yr-old flashing across my cellphone screen. I’ve been at home exactly ten minutes. Just long enough to pour the olive oil in the pan, dredge the chicken pieces through the breadcrumb mixture, and scatter a few frozen fries across a cold cookie sheet.
“Get your butt home right now,” I text back with one hand while flopping down three placemats with the other. My 16-yr-old saunters through the kitchen wearing his baseball hat on backwards -his jeans hanging on for dear life to his jutting hipbones while flashing a generous swath of plaid boxer shorts to the world.
“Whats up mutha,” he says, fully wired up and fiddling with his ipod and his cellphone at the same time. “What’s for dinner?”
“Chicken,” I answer back, but he is already breezing past not bothering to look at anything around him. I hear the backpack hit the floor in the TV room and thud against the wall. And almost as counterpoint, there is the front door now, opening and closing, another backpack lands in the hallway with another thud against the wall. Teen number two is home quicker than I expected and already at the computer angrily banging on the keypad.
“Hey, how was your first day? I call out loudly with my head in the oven checking on the fries.
“Ok” he answers back.
“So come talk to me, I want to hear about it. Did you find your classrooms ok?”
“Did you get to school on time with dad?”
“Do you like your teachers?”
“Do you like your classes?”
“Do you like anything?” I think better about letting the actual spoken words leave my lips. Instead I call out “Dinner!” and start placing a platter of chicken, fries, and grilled zuchinni spears in the middle of the table.
My 14-yr-old sits in his spot brooding over an empty plate while his brother and I stab at the chicken with a fork and squirt ourselves puddles of ketchup.

“So tell me about your day,” I say to them both and the 16-yr-old fills the silence with stream of consciousness chatter between bites. “I hate statistics. I don’t need a tutor. I want to start drivers ed now.” I’m thankful someone is talking, but I only half listen because the 14-yr-old now is antsy in his seat with his face glowering down looking at his empty plate. I try to direct the conversation. “Hey look,” I say and point to the hummingbird now darting from the pot of red geraniums to the green bush and back again in my neighbors yard just outside my kitchen window. But there is no distracting this kid when he is in a mood. I know this because its a mood I’m used to feeling myself.

We listen as the 16-yr-old goes on and on about his license, his girlfriend, his next leaders meeting, and the upcoming weekend until he chews his last bite and deposits the plate into the sink on his way back to the TV room. Mr. gloom and I are left to stare at the remaining scraps of uneaten food on the platter and his still gleaming untouched plate.
“So what’s up? Is it your girlfriend?”
“Do you not have any friends in class?”
“I have some.”
“Is it too hard? Too much homework? Don’t like the honors math class?” We sit in silence for a few minutes as he shakes his head no in answer to all my questions. I know what the real problem is now and I have for some time but I don’t want to ask it. The unasked question looms heavy in the air, swirling around us like the heady aroma of cinnamon and butter wafting from an oven on a chilly Sunday morning. Both of us look out the window at the robin perched on a branch of the bush in my neighbor’s yard.

“Are you upset about your weight again?” I say at last. And there it is. His eyes fill up with tears. And here is the pivotal parenting moment that I have been avoiding. It means its all up to me now and I want nothing more than to sit here and cry too. My older teen doesn’t have our problem. He isn’t a fan of sweets, forgets to eat meals often, and his metabolism is freight-train fast. Not his mother and his brother. We have never met a meal we can do without, and life just doesn’t seem worth the bother if you can’t punctuate every event both good and bad with a slice of chocolate cake and a mountain of sugar frosting. Weight gain comes to us easy. And it wouldn’t even be so bad if it was just the weight. But the weight gain gives way to the dark mood, and the dark mood gives way to a feeling of hopelessness, and a feeling of hopelessness is erased all too easily by a slather of butter on a warm slice of toast.

It is now up to me to come up with an instant action plan because that’s the only thing that will help.

“Ok this is what we are going to do.” I say. “Go get a sheet of paper and post it to the refrigerator door and go weigh yourself and write down your weight. I’ll do it too. I’ll do it with you. And then don’t weigh yourself again for three more weeks. I’ll go to the grocery store and get you some things for your lunches now. You can pack a brown bag every day and skip the school lunch. ”
“Can you buy fruit?”
“Yes I can.”
“And can you buy snacks in little packages and stuff for salad?”
He knows how to do this because he’s done it before. And the knowledge of his past success is enough for his mood to lift. I watch him as he gets up and starts to clear the table and stack dishes in the dishwasher. I’m thankful that he seems more at ease, that he seems more hopeful, and I work hard to choke back my own fears about this being just another first day in a lifetime of first days. In 43 years, I have yet to find an end to this pattern of emotional eating and starting over again. One first day after another after another.

But this isn’t about me. This is my about my son on his first day of high school. On his first day of his new resolve to take care of his weight and take care of his emotions. “Ok I’m leaving now. I’ll be back in a half hour or so,” I call to him from the dining room doorway, standing with my car keys in my hand. He’s at the refrigerator door now, carefully taping a blank sheet of paper to the side and writing down his weight and the days of the week. He flashes me a quick smile, relief all over his face. “Thanks mom.”

Written by kmguay

September 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Posted in family, mothers

Tagged with , , ,

sadists and syrup

with 2 comments

I just ate my weight in waffles. And yes, there is one more in the toaster. waffles Standing in the kitchen, still in my work pants and sandals, but now in a ratty sweatshirt that leaves me plenty of room to slouch, I mindlessly inhale the mingling flavors of butter, maple syrup, and snot. I’m crying again and pacing through the quiet house with a plate in one hand and a fork in the other. The October light is new for this empty room and I’m not sure I like it much. My hanging planters are away for the winter, the view from the window above the couch is unobstructed and I can see bright orange splattering the front yard across the street. Today I don’t feel joyful about autumn leaves. And tomorrow my ex–partner will get a letter from my lawyer.

“Well, what she could do is drag this out. And getting the court involved will take a good year and it’s expensive.” says my pencil thin lawyer scribbling a few notes onto a yellow legal pad. “Of course, if yours falls in the 5% of all the situations I see like these that actually DO litigate,” she straightens out the glasses on her face for a minute, “and I don’t really see that happening- but if it does, of course we’ll try to get you more than half. We’re not talking a lot of money here so it would be a shame if this actually goes to trial.”‘

Now I feel scolded. I shouldn’t be here. If I were a better more evolved person, my ex and I would be sitting at a table over coffee discussing how and when we should do this.

“Well you read the email I forwarded, didn’t that sound like a “screw you, Kris” to you? She won’t talk to me and I’ve been trying since July so what choice do I have?” I say this to my lawyer a little too loud and with some defensiveness in my voice. I feel ridiculous now. Because of course its not that simple. Why did I think I was going to have Ms Ballbuster take my hand and say: honey, you came to the right place and this will be over in a matter of days.

“It sounded like a kiss-off to me, yes, ” she says matter-of-factly and looking me straight in the eyes, “and if you are asking me what you should do, I say we send a letter.” And then she adds as an afterthought, with a smile just barely turning up the corners of her mouth, “You know, this is why I love this job. People in these situations – and this is a divorce like any other- they know each other and they know how to make each other crazy. I never know what I’m going to see.” She laughs, “Maybe I’m a sadist.”


We agree on a small retainer. I write the check. We mention our teenagers at home. But there is nothing about this meeting that has me reassured or feeling empowered at all. Do I want a sadist lawyer? I don’t want to do any of this. But I also don’t want to continue to be told to wait quietly while my equity in the house erodes, my credit is at risk, and my heart continues to be stomped on with every day that my ex-partner smugly performs what she knows will hurt me the most. The deep freeze. The complete withdrawal. The attitude that says: Not only do you not matter to me and never have, but you don’t exist at all.

Funny, but when you don’t exist, it sometimes means filling yourself up with waffles just to feel substantial again. Hmmm I think I just heard the toaster pop.

Written by kmguay

August 25, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Posted in relationship

Tagged with , ,

tuesday night dinner

with 4 comments

dinnerStanding in cold kitchen with coat on, drop commuter bag on table and open refrigerator door. Feel good about the partially defrosted turkey meat on the shelf even as you notice the frostbite on the edges. Continue to thaw in microwave. Pour olive oil in big pan. Shit. Big pan is lounging in sink under grayish sudsy water. Wash pan. Dry with towel. Place on stove. Now remove coat and drape over one arm while pouring olive oil in big pan.

6:40 PM. On way to bedroom to change, still carrying coat, turn house heat on. Change clothes. Return to kitchen. Thank a god that there is red wine still on the counter from the weekend. Pour a glass halfway full. Look at it with dismay. Pour more in again to the top. Spy an onion on top of the microwave next to a lone garlic clove. Consider the ingredient list: Onion. Turkey Meat. Olive Oil. Fresh Oregano, Tomato Sauce. Whole Wheat Spaghetti. Parmesan Cheese. Crusty Bread. Garlic.

Boil the water. Take a big sip of the wine as son number one walks in the kitchen complaining.

"Spaghetti? when will it be ready?" he says.

Try not to notice the disgusted look on his face and say something snide like "Never."

Look at the clock. 6:45. Decide against the onion. Toss a frozen french bread boule in the cold oven. Crank the dial to 450. Listen for son number two and ex-husband making their entrance through the front door.

"Mom, we're home!" they say.

Notice that they've completely ignored your request to stop at Deluxe Tux in the center of town and take an even bigger sip of your wine when the grey shirt and the maroon tie spill out of the Men's Wearhouse bag and onto the table.

"I thought we decided on a simple rented tux for Sat?" you say.

Answer from ex husband, "Well this way he'll have a suit for special occassions."

Answer back from ex-wife "What special occasions? He'll grow out of it before the next occasion. I agreed to pay half of the price of a tux. What did this cost?"

And now it starts.

"You don't need to pay half"he says.

"But what did this cost?"you say.

"Just pay me whatever you were planning to pay me for the tux"he says.

"What did this cost?!"you say.

" 265 dollars"he says.

" 265 dollars!" you say.

Throw frozen turkey meat in pan of smoking olive oil and pulverize with a wooden spoon. Skip the fresh oregano. Toss pasta into boiling water while raising your voice to shrill ex-wife level.

"I'm not paying that and neither are you! We don't have it. And another thing, do we really want to reward him with a 300 dollar suit right now?! you say.

Now brace yourself for the teen to join in.

"MOM! I cant believe you! You are ruining my life!" he says.

Scream back. "Get out of the kitchen and let me be mad at your father right now!" you say.

"It was 265 dollars not 300" ex husband says.

Flash angry look at ex-husband while emptying jarred sauce into turkey meat with a splat. Ignore ex-husband as he leaves the house and the other teen starts to cry at the computer.

"And what's wrong with you now?"you say.

You are fighting with dad and I have a five paragraph essay to write and it was due Monday." says the younger teen.

"But its Tuesday." you say.

"My teacher is a bitch. She is making me do it anyway and there is no point now." he says.

Now lose your mind while brandishing a tomato-sauced wooden spoon in one hand as the sullen teen stops to text his girlfriend.


Catch whipped cellphone with your free hand before it hits you and slam it on the counter. Look at the clock. 7:00 PM. Lower heat on sauce. Dump overcooked pasta into collander. Toss pasta and sauce together in a mixing bowl and place in the middle of the table. Arrange three plates. Set out forks and one spoon. Place plastic parmesan cheese container on table. Remove crusty bread from oven and try to cut even though its still frozen in center. Say fuck it and cut off one end and apply butter. Leave the frozen splintered bread mess on the cutting board indefinitely. Scream DINNER! and heap a large pile of totally unappetizing pasta onto your plate and don't make eye contact with either one of your spoiled, ungrateful, miserable teenage children. Eat furiously while waiting for your ex-husband to call you from the road.

"Mom, it's dad on the phone" says a teen.

Take another sip of your wine while listening to the phone ring.

"Mom, that's dad calling." he says.

Keep chewing while placing the phone to your ear.

"Uh huh" you say.

"I can"t return it now because I didn't pay with a check." says ex husband.

"How did you pay for it? In blood?” you say.

"I paid with a debit card" he says.

"You can get your money back. Just return it" you say.

"It will only be store credit" he says.

"I think you're wrong, read the receipt to me. You can get your money back." you say.

Drink more wine while you listen to your ex-husband read you the return and exchange terms on the store receipt.

"Ok, I'll return it tomorrow" he says.

"Yeah, I think that is best" you say.

Now notice the teen at the table turning red. Put your hand up in front of his face before he pops a blood vessel.

"Chill out. You'll get a tux for Sat and it will be fine."you say.

Turn your attention back to the phone and twirl more pasta on your fork. Listen to ex-husband say, "I'm an idiot"

Feel bad for him and angry at yourself for losing your temper.

"No you are not, I've done it before. They are good salespeople and the store is overpriced. That's why I don't go there anymore. We'll take care of it tomorrow. Good night." you say.

Place the phone down and survey the kitchen, the two empty chairs now, an empty wine glass, a massacred loaf on the counter, the sound of the tv from the tv-room blaring, the computer keys clicking away.


1 hour and 10 minutes later and another Tuesday night dinner is complete.

Written by kmguay

August 22, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Posted in family, teenagers

Tagged with , , , ,