Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Shannon McKelden: Living with Teens
In the book I’m working on, my heroine (so not mother material) finds herself the guardian of two kids, a teen boy and pre-teen girl. Now, I’m all for having life experience to pepper my stories with, but this teen boy thing is hitting too close to home lately.
My son, otherwise known as Gameboy, is going to be 15 next month. He’s a great kid. Honor student. A soon-to-be black belt in taekwondo. No trouble. I don’t worry about him.
Okay, I haven’t worried about him in the past. Because he never had a social life. With social life comes anxiety. My anxiety.
Last weekend was the first time he’s really ventured out and done anything on his own. My nephew (I’ll call him GB2), who is almost 16, was home for the weekend while his mom was out of town. They live 2 minutes from us, so he could call if he needed anything. The second night of his mother’s absence, GB2’s 19-year-old cousin was staying with him (I’ll call him J1). J1 is a great kid I’ve known for years. Black belt in taekwondo, lifeguard on the local military base, etc.
The boys had been hanging out off and on over the weekend, playing video games, eating junk food. No worries.
Then, Gameboy called to ask if he could go bowling with them. First big social situation. Out in a car with a 19-year-old at night. Going to a bowling alley. If I’d had Valium, I might have considered taking one. Instead, I got the specifics of where they were going, how late they would be, and then, with vague trepidation, said okay.
I have to let him grow up sometime, right?
Everything went fine. He texted me at one point and stated that they would be later than planned because they couldn’t get a lane, so asked permission to be out later. I said okay. He needs to be allowed some freedom, I told my husband...more for my own assurance than his.
Again, everything went fine. He arrived home within 5 minutes of his stated time of arrival, in one piece, didn’t smell like alcohol or slur his words, so all was good.
Until today when I got the WHOLE story. The one where they couldn’t get a lane at the bowling alley they wanted, so they went to another. Couldn’t get a lane there either, so they decided to go onto the MILITARY BASE.
Um...thank God I wasn’t aware of this, or the entire bottle of Valium may have been consumed at this point. I have nothing against the military...but, well, it’s farther away and unfamiliar and I’m not sure what kinds of trouble they could get into, but I do know it could involve guns and ammunition.
While trying not to be the uncool mom by passing out in the car and slamming into a tree when I heard this news, I asked how they managed that. Well, J1 is a lifeguard on said military base. His younger brother, J2, who had joined them (also a black belt and a good kid), also has a military ID.
Gameboy and GB2? Not so much with the military IDs.
So, apparently, they got interrogated. Name, eye color, height, weight. Mom’s name and phone number. Which they ran through some computer, which probably informed them of MY name, eye color, height and weight.
Thank God I wasn’t called to ask if I had any latent terrorist tendencies and if I’d been training my son to take up the cause. There is not enough Valium in the world to have stopped the freak-out I’d have thrown if the MILITARY POLICE had called to question me about my kid, who I thought was just a few miles away at a freaking bowling alley!!!
Apparently, they were eventually issued day passes and went to bowl. Oblivious to the trauma this would have caused me had I known about it.
I, in the meantime, sat at home mindlessly watching TV, figuring my baby boy was just having a good time bowling.
Is it wrong to say I’m sooooo happy I didn’t know what he was doing when he was doing it? I’d have been having a brain hemorrhage.
I’m not sure I’ll survive the boy-teen years. But, I have a new-found sympathy for my heroine, suddenly finding herself the guardian of a teenage boy. I’m just hoping the Universe doesn’t decide suddenly that I need any more real life examples of the stress a teen boy is capable of causing the adults responsible for him.
Oh, and if all of the above wasn’t enough, as he was finishing up the story (and I was finishing up the teeny, tiny lecture about how he needs to tell me when they change where they go also, because if he’d disappeared I’d NEVER have thought to tell police that they’d ventured onto the military base), he held the back door open for me and said, “If I were you, I wouldn’t be worried about us being on base, I’d be worried about J2’s driving. Cause he’s a horrible driver!”
I’m convinced the mother of a teenage boy invented the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.”
Shannon McKelden is the author of three humorous women’s fiction novels, including her latest, The Kiss Test, a digital book from Carina Press. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, where she writes and runs the website TheHappyWriter.com.