Life with Teenagers

Posts Tagged ‘sibling rivalry

i can’t put it into words

with one comment


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I can hear the low rumble of the harley starting up in the garage. It’s late morning, almost afternoon, and I’m still in my oversized pajama bottoms and a wrinkled t-shirt. I’m gathering up supplies from the kitchen to take with me to the basement. I’ve got a roll of paper towels, the antiseptic wipes, and a couple of dry dish towels in one hand and my cell phone in the other. The older teen left the house hours earlier. I watched him shuffle out to the car – barefoot and in boxers – while I quietly stood at my usual spot in front of the kitchen sink in full view of the hummingbird feeder and the driveway beyond.

“I’m worried about him,” I said to my partner who was sliding by in socks on the kitchen floor carrying her motorcycle boots in her hand. I hadn’t shifted my locked gaze from the tiny whirring wings and iridescent green hovering outside the window, my hands on the edge of the sink, my feet fidgeting around in my flip flops.

“I think he will be ok. He is the one left behind. Just give him some time,” she said, opening up the closet and grabbing the gloves from the top shelf before exiting through the kitchen door.

I’ve been walking around with my smartphone for the past 24 hours, leaving it to rest on counter tops or tables and picking it up to carry it with me from room to room. And sure enough, there’s another text.

“Did you find my calculator?” the text reads. I slide it open to the keyboard and begin to type back.

“Yes. Your father is bringing it with him tomorrow when he comes with your brother. What are you doing?” I don’t expect another text for hours but instead it’s instant.

“I’m going to look for my classrooms today.”

“Good.” I text back. “Try to have some fun too, ok?”

The dog is now barking, the harley is slowly making its way down the driveway, and I snap the smartphone shut. On my way downstairs, I grab a pile of folded laundry from the washer top and carry it with me. In the teen’s old bedroom, a shaft of light from the half window way up by the ceiling shines a small square onto the edge of the bed. I get to work stripping sheets, dusting shelves, gathering up socks from the floor, gathering up discarded soda and ice coffee plastic cups, pulling shoeboxes down from the bookshelves. On my knees, I reach way behind the headboard and pull up three empty bottles one at a time that were wedged out of view. Raspberry Bombay Sapphire. Jack Daniels. And some kind of diminutive lemon vodka thing now line up in a row on the bed. I empty the contents of the shoeboxes, too. Bubble wrapped glass blown bongs and pieces of flat colored glass fill one. Old empty cigarette boxes, clear plastic baggies, toothbrushes, and various flotsam and jetsam fill the others.

Well, at least it all was left behind at home. I say this out loud to nobody. I was there when we unpacked his dorm room. I was there when he piled his books in a neat pile on his desk, when he unpacked his toiletries in a row on his closet shelf.

The smartphone buzzes on the top of the bureau.

“I had a bag of stuff from Orientation and it had a book about the history of Lowell and I need it for my writing class.” reads the text.

“I will look for it but I think I threw it away over the summer,” I text back.

I snap the smartphone shut and get back to work vacuuming, arranging the older teen’s books and awards onto the empty shelves, hanging up movie posters, making up the bed. A large bag of trash is ready to be brought to the garage. The younger teen’s paraphernalia is boxed up and hoisted into the back room. I stand back and admire my work just as the older teen makes his way downstairs carrying a pizza box and a large drink container with a straw.

“Hey, check out the room, what do you think?” I call out from the open door. He peeks his head in and looks around quick with a blank expression.”See, I moved your film stuff and your posters too.”

“Yeah, I’ll probably move that one.” he says. “I like Daniel Craig but I don’t want to wake up every day looking at him.”

“Ahh, yes,” I reply. I catch him looking quick at the framed photograph of the two brothers on the beach that I left on the bureau. Now it’s his bureau. I see him wipe his eye with the back of his hand and turn away from me.

“You don’t like the room? Now you get the good bed,” I say trying to sound cheerful.

“It’s good mom, but… I don’t know. I can’t put it into words. My best friend left for college and I’m still here. It’s hard,” he says as his voice cracks.

“I know, honey, but its…” I stop myself before going any further. He’s already into the other room now. Headphones are on, pizza box is on the coffee table, video game joystick in hand.

“Thanks for cleaning mom but can you go now?” he says and his face is fixated on the TV screen.

Yeah. I can go now, I guess. The younger teen has gone, and the older one has yet to find his way still, but I hope that one day soon he will. And I feel like a chapter has just ended and I’m not ready for it to be over right now, or something like that.

I just can’t put it into words.

Written by kmguay

September 2, 2013 at 2:31 am

what just happened here?

with 3 comments


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“What just happened here?” My girlfriend shuts the front door and stands in the entryway still holding the dog leash and wearing her leather jacket. “I just saw a teen run down the street in his t-shirt,” she says. I’m sitting on the couch looking straight ahead at the other teen pacing in the dining room.
“No, I’m not talking to you until you calm down,” I say.
“Mom! we are talking right now,” the teen bellows.
“No, I’m not,” I reply.
“I’m not moving mom. You are going to talk to me now,” he says, flailing his arms and and trying to remain in a tough guy posture.
“Stand there all night then. I’m not talking,” I say again.
“Right now mom, right now,” he says. He paces back and forth in the dining room. I look over at my girlfriend who is still standing frozen in the entryway. I give her that I’m drowning look and say nothing to her as I start pressing my finger into the apricot pastry crumbs left on the plate on the coffee table. I take one of the empty tea cups and stack it on top of the other. I crumple a napkin. My girlfriend continues to stand in the hallway in her jacket.

“Do you want me to go look for him?” she says. It’s pretty dark out and the temperature has dropped.”
She lets the dog off the leash to sniff around and walk in circles. He stops to lie on his blanket near the couch, but after two minutes, he is back up again. “What just happened here?” he seems to be thinking as he wanders the new surroundings. One minute, I’m on a farm in Georgia and the next minute I’m here with all these strange yelling people. He travels from room to room, his little nails clicking on the hardwood floor as he passes.
“Yeah, thanks,” I say back.

When she leaves, the teen sits beside me on the couch with tears in his eyes hyperventilating.
“So how is this suddenly my fault, huh?” I ask him.
“Mom! you know how he is, you shouldn’t get mad at him,” he says.
“Im tired of you both right now. It’s Sunday. You’ve been playing all weekend. You both know the computer isn’t working right and you wait till 9pm to start your homework. What do you expect? Your brother is mad at himself, not at me,” I say. “So what just happened here?”
“He slammed the door in my face! So I pinned him to the ground,” he says.
“Did you hit him?” I ask.
“No, I pushed him and I pinned him. He was swearing at me,” he says.
“I know, I heard you,” I say. “And another thing,” I start to launch into a lecture. “I haven’t seen you do any homework lately. Want to know what I think? I think things are slipping in your world. There will be no drivers ed classes until I see your grades this semester. You want to be in clubs, want to have a job, want to see you girlfriend all the time? Well, something has to give, bub.”
“You are making too much of my grades mom!” he yells.
“You are damn right I am, it’s a priority.” I say.
“Well its not mine! Fuck this!” he yells.
“You better watch your language right now if you know what is good for you,” I say, my voice starting to raise. The teen loses all self control and punches the coffee table with his fist.
“And I don’t have any money for your broken hand either!!!” I yell back. “Get out of here right now!”

The teen slams his way into the tv room and I remain motionless on the couch staring straight ahead. I take a deep breath and recall the morning brunch with friends. November sunlight streaming through the windows, illuminating the colored candle holders in the center of the table, the four of us sipping port from tiny amber colored bell-shaped glasses and spooning into dense chocolate raspberry triangles, listening intently while our good friend choked out the words to describe an approaching dreaded birthday. “I’m going to be 45,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion, “and I think to myself, what just happened here? How is it that I’ve missed all that time in between?”

I pick up my cellphone and call my girlfriend. “Did you find him?” I ask.
“No, I’m headed back,” she says.

I walk into the tv room and tell the sullen teen on the couch that his brother is missing.
“He’ll be back mom,” he says but he sits up with a worried expression and starts tugging at his bottom lip.
“Well it’s dark, I don’t know if he has his phone, he didn’t answer. I don’t even know if he wore his shoes,” i say.
The teen gets up and grabs for his jacket.
“We’ll go back out again, I know where to look,” he says, just as my girlfriend enters the house again. He takes off out of the tv room with a shot.

I decide to do what any good mother does in a crisis. I walk into the teen’s bedroom and start to pick up laundry off the floor, start smoothing the sheets on the unmade bed, adjusting the curtains, and pulling down the blinds. I pick up the cordless phone from the floor near the desk and dial my ex-husband’s number and get his answering machine. I leave him a cryptic message saying “something just happened” and he should call back when he gets the message. And I think to myself, as I bend over to grab damp towels from the bed and start to hang them back on hooks behind the door, what just happened here? How did I go from having it all together, to the best laid plans for my son’s junior year, for my personal trainer this fall (I notice the exercise elastic with handles strewn across the dryer in the laundry room, the one I bought a month ago and never even touched) to this?

My cellphone starts to buzz in my pocket and it’s the younger teen on the line.
“I’m coming home,” he says.
“Do you realize everyone is out looking for you?” I ask.
“I’m on my way home” he says.
“Call your father from your cell, ok? I’ll let everyone else know. Are you ok?” I ask.
“I’m ok, mom, I’m on my way home.”
“Ok, don’t forget to call your father,” I say. “And tell him what just happened.”

Written by kmguay

November 4, 2009 at 2:04 am