Date Planner

This draft was sitting in my draft folder (with hundreds of others, to be honest). The date was June 1st of last year. I was obviously getting something off my chest and/or trying to just capture the details because all 150+ words were crammed together in one paragraph. I had forgotten all about the details of this particular Saturday morning but boy did it all come rushing back as I read it! That’s not always the case when I look back at drafts; for example, no clue what the one around the same time period that only said “football pract” was going to be about (other than, well, football practice). At any rate, here we go, with better formatting and a little more detail…

 

Teenage boys are.

I mean.

I can’t even.

He tells us that he and his girlfriend want to go on a date. He tells us that several days ago. No problem so far.

Last night, he said she couldn’t do lunch or dinner so it would be breakfast today. But as of midnight, he couldn’t tell us what time or where and seemed wholly unconcerned as to whether his desire for a ride would negatively impact any plans of any of the drivers in the house. He was even put out that I interrupted his PS4 game to ask questions.

His grand plan was to wake up early (after staying up late), even though he knows he sleeps through his alarm, and see what her response was. When I woke him up at 8:45, wondering what his definition of “early” was or exactly how late he though breakfast could start, he checked his phone and saw she had suggested 8:30. Oops. Wonder what she was thinking as she sat there waiting for a reply.

Now the plan is 9:30 and he just got out of the shower. He actually wanted me to drop him off at 9:30, come home, then drive back into town, and pick him up at 10:15. I mean, seriously.

First, this date is only 45 minutes long? You guys like each other that much?

Second, it takes 15 minutes to drive home and another 15 to drive back in. That leaves me 15 minutes to do…what exactly? And it puts me spending an hour on the road to support this 45 minute date. I don’t think so!

I told him I wasn’t going to do that so they made plans to extend the date to a more reasonable duration. I don’t recall now, months later, what they added to the plan or even whether I was both the dropper-off and picker-up or whether my husband took one leg of the obligation.

I just remember being amazed that he 1) was so cavalier about coordinating the event and 2) unconcerned about his impact on whoever had to drive him. He and his girlfriend didn’t contact each other much over the summer and parted ways just before school started back. I think she did the breaking up because she had changed schools and they weren’t likely to see each other much.

He seemed to be ok with that because he really didn’t have time for a girlfriend (his words). He wanted to focus on football and hanging out with his friends and playing video games. Fast forward six months… I’ve heard rumor of a girl he’s interested in but his life has mostly revolved around those things he mentioned back then. Main difference now is that he’s driving. So if he botches a date again, it doesn’t affect me.

Nipple Ring

It had been a long day, as so many of them seem to be. I had happily crawled into bed at the end of it and snuggled into my pillows. Sleep was going well but I can only assume I was too close to a sleep stage transition when my husband suddenly asked, “Hello?”

My back was to him so I rolled just enough to look over my shoulder. I saw him pulling the phone from his face so I glanced at the screen: Daryl. He pulled the phone back to his ear, repeated his question, then looked at the screen again. The call had just ended.

“What’s going on?” I asked. Silly question since he obviously had gotten no answer, but it was two in the morning and I don’t function well at that hour.

“I don’t know. He didn’t say anything.”

“Is he home?”

“I don’t know but I’m going to go check now.”

Daryl had spent the evening watching the NBA All-Star basketball game over at his sister’s place. He wasn’t home by the time we went to bed. I started to wonder if he had fallen asleep there. Or had he been in a wreck on his way home?

My husband returned from his sojourn down the hall and told me that he was home and asleep in his bed. He shrugged it off and went back to sleep. I, as I am prone to do after such events, lay awake for hours waiting for sleep to reclaim me.

My alarm woke me soon after I fell back asleep. I dutifully got up and we went to the gym. The boys didn’t have school that day so we were letting them sleep. As I prepared to leave for work, I paused at Daryl’s door. I don’t know if it was honest curiosity or a desire to pay him back, but I went inside.

“Daryl,” I said, shaking him gently. “I’m going to work, honey. Where’s your phone?”

He had just been groggily stretching until I asked him about the phone. He pushed his torso up off the bed and looked around confused. As he stretched up higher and looked down, I saw it. His phone was face-up under his bare chest.

“That’s it! Daryl! You nipple-dialed your dad in the middle of the night! It woke both of us up! It took me hours to go back to sleep.”

He didn’t respond.

“The least you could do is say Sorrrryyy Mooooomm.” I said the “sorry mom” in an exaggerated put-out-teenager voice. He repeated the words in exactly the same tone. Maybe my version wasn’t so exaggerated after all.

“Thank you,” I said, picking up the phone, now at 11% battery because it had spent the night under his chest instead of on his charger. As I plugged it in for him, I confirmed what time he needed to be at Destination Imagination practice. And then I told his dad to make sure he was awake when the time came.

Because, you see, it’s always mom’s job to take care of the kids. Even if the kids wreck her sleep. You take care of them. And then you take care of yourself by increasing your caffeine intake for the day. And then you cross your fingers and say a little prayer before trying again for a good night’s sleep at the next opportunity.

How Flat is Flat?

Daryl (yes, we are going to talk about Daryl again) was late coming home from Destination Imagination practice Saturday. I didn’t think too much about it until our friends showed up to play Charterstone, which is a really fun legacy board game (legacy means the rules change and the story builds each time you play). It’s a big deal and we always have a blast.

Practice was over at 12:30 and it was now almost 3:00, so I gave him a call. He was at a store with his friend Jerry. We talked for a minute and he selected 5:00 as the time that he would either be home or call me to check in.

Sometime shortly before 5:00, his truck rolled into the driveway. To my surprise, Jerry was sitting next to him. Ok, I thought. I guess he’s ok with his friend seeing this ‘nerdfest’ we have going on…

Only, they didn’t come in the house. The poor dog was going nuts with anticipation. I asked the people who could see out the window what they were doing. “They’re walking around the truck looking at it” was what I got back.

I’d finally had enough of the dog so I walked to the front door to let her out. The boys were not visible at all; but when she streaked across the driveway and around the truck, Daryl’s head popped up in surprise. I had already shut the front door so he was looking around like he couldn’t figure out where she had come from.

It looked like they were checking out the front passenger-side tire. I wondered why they weren’t coming in for help, but figured they eventually would. I sat back down at the game and when he later tried to quickly let the dog back in without coming in himself, I called out to him. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Nothing. I just need to take Jerry home.”

“You aren’t going to come in and say hi?”

“No, we’re running late. We gotta go!”

“What were you doing with your tire?”

“Oh, I just needed to put some air in it.”

“Did you use a tire gauge?” my husband asked at the same time I said, “You know every gas station in town has an air pump, right?”

No, he didn’t know that he could have stopped at a gas station instead of driving out of town to our house. And, no, he didn’t have a tire gauge. He seemed flustered that he had driven home when he didn’t have to, although he soon showed that he really did, actually, need to come home. As he had no clue how much air was enough.

One of our friends stopped pouring his beer to go get Daryl one of the several tire gauges in his car. I asked Daryl if he knew how to use it. He claimed he didn’t need to use it because, and I quote, “we pushed on the tire – it’s good.”

With that, I followed him out to the truck and his waiting friend – much to his embarrassment, I’m assuming, since he asked me why I was wearing my Christmas leggings on our way out there. When I got to the truck, I showed him how to read the appropriate tire pressure inside his driver’s door. I then walked around to the passenger side, where I could see the tire sagging appreciably on the driveway.

“Daryl! There is not enough air in that tire – just look at it!”

What ensued next was some typical teenage back-and-forth on which boy had claimed what while they had tried to use the air compressor on the tire. There was so little air in it that the tire gauge didn’t actually budge. Daryl still tried to tell me it was fine.

I told him that if he drove off on that tire, there would be six very unhappy adults in there that would have to stop playing their game while his dad came to walk him through changing his tire on the side of the road. “Do. Not. Drive off, unless you can get it to 35psi.”

With that, I went back inside. My husband asked if I had checked the tire for damage. I said, “No. You should go do that. Being the tire guy and everything.”

With great reluctance, he did, and then returned soon after to inform me there was a nail and Daryl would be taking our other truck in order to get Jerry home. About then, I saw the truck go tearing off the property like a bat outta hell.

“Daryl! Don’t drive that fast! What do you think you’re doing?”

“You know he can’t hear you, right?” everyone asked.

“He drives like that all the time,” my husband said.

“Not while I’m with him!” I said, which my husband answered with a don’t-be-so-stupid patronizing look.

Why are our kids so good at pointing out all the things we’ve failed to teach them yet? I hadn’t thought about what Daryl would do if he got a flat tire. I hadn’t thought to share with him the neighbor’s caution to his older sister about driving fast down our road. I hadn’t told him that common courtesy involved bringing his guest into the house to say hello to us.

There’s just so much to teach. And no matter how hard you try, you’ll never get it all. You just have to hope that some combination of luck, common sense, and maybe the intervention of others with make up the difference.

 

Puddle Jumping

Let’s just stick with the teenage boy for another post. I came home from choir practice the other day and he was sitting at the table doing homework. He was calling out questions to his dad and asking Siri about socialism and communism and suffrage. I was surprised. I don’t catch him doing homework very often.

I passed through the room and walked down the hall through our bedroom to the master bath. Once there, I settled on “the throne” for a bit of quiet me time. It wasn’t quiet for long. He came into the room wanting to show me something on his phone.

It was a Snapchat video of a bunch of football players. They were running and then leaping or sliding into huge puddles of water. It’s been raining a fair amount around here lately. And it’s cold. Ok, not northern-states cold, but cold for Texas. Hovering around freezing at night and not getting out of the forties or low fifties during the day.

He was naming each of the boys as they came into view and threw themselves into the mud. “And here’s ME!!! BOY!!!” he exclaimed just as I saw his lean frame make a smooth slide through the puddle. He finished naming the boys before pulling his phone back.

“There was that puddle and then another bigger one over there. We were all doing it. Even Big Mo and {honestly, I don’t remember the names…you get the idea}. It was fun!”

“You know who else likes to jump in puddles?” I asked.

“Who?”

“Four-year-olds. Four-year-olds like to jump in puddles.”

“It was fun!! But, man! It was cold. Like really, really cold.” He said that as if I would be unaware it was cold without his first-hand account.

“And it soaked my underwear and socks!” He gave a small laugh. “I didn’t know we were going to do that. I didn’t bring extra underwear and socks.” (They wear school-provided workout clothes during Athletics).

He stuck his foot out. “Man, I’m not wearing white socks anymore. Look at these!”

I soon heard him regaling his father with the same tale. He was very proud and very excited. I mean, he had to be. What 16-year-old boy wants to hang out with his mom while she’s using the bathroom?

Like I’ve said before, he can go days or weeks without having any substantive conversation with me at all. And then there’s days like this. I guess it’s the age, but it always, without fail, is about something stupid he’s done, a friend has done, or he’s heard. But it’s always fun. He’s living the good life.

A Truck In Sheep’s Clothing

“I’ve got some stuff that I want to get,” my teenage son said.

“Like what?” I asked, looking up from my laptop. He had a funny smile on his face and was fiddling with the door frame above his head.

“I wanna get some stuff for my truck,” he started, looking out the door toward where his truck was parked. “I want to get some floor coverings. Like some carpet.”

“Sheep skin,” my husband called from the other room. “He wants sheep skin floor mats.”

“What?” I asked.

“Yeaaahhhh…. that would be SO cool, dude!” my son said.

“You want sheep skin floor mats?” I clarified. “On the floor of your truck. Where your feet go.”

“Yeah! Think about it! It would be awesome!”

“I’m already writing one blog post about you. You’re going to go give me another?”

He didn’t respond but kept enthusing about the sheep skin floor mats.

“They are going to get dirty!” I tried.

“No, man. I know how to keep them clean! Like my shoes.”

“Oh, so you are going to stop driving the truck, is that it?”

“I wear those shoes all the time!” (side note: No. He doesn’t. He doesn’t want to risk creasing them.)

He continued as he looked at the ceiling and ran his fingers along the wall: “And I want to get LED rope lights.”

“Inside your truck?!”

“No! In my room. I’m talking about my room now. It’s gonna look good with those lights….But the sheep skin, mom!”

“How are you going to keep the sheep skin clean?” I asked.

“I’ll take my shoes off. Can you imagine how great that would feel? Your left foot just resting on that?”

“And what about when it’s raining? You gonna just stand outside in the rain and take your shoes off before you climb in?”

“Or I can sit down and take them off first.”

“With all the rain pouring in? Everything will be soaked!”

“I’ll put a rain cover on it.”

“A rain cover.” I deadpanned.

“Yeah! Dude. I’ll watch the weather and put a rain cover on if it’s supposed to rain.”

“On the floor mats.”

“Yes! They don’t have to be all fluffy and thick. They can just be carpet. Lots of people have carpet in their cars.”

“You said sheep skin. That’s thick and fluffy.”

“I know! My truck’s going to be awesome. Get those floor mats and get the radio installed. Dude.”

Chalk this up as another conversation that I never, ever imagined having. With anyone. As my mother-in-law would say, it’s a good thing he’s cute.

Taste Buds

“Did you know you have taste buds on your ball sac?” my son asked…me. Yes, he asked me. Directly.

“No, actually. I know for a fact that I don’t have any taste buds on my ball sac. Since I don’t have a ball sac. Being a girl and all.”

“No, that’s not what I mean. You know. There’s taste buds on ball sacs. It’s science.”

“Where did you see this? Snapchat?”

“No, an Instagram page,” my husband countered.

“No, for real. It’s science. You can look it up.”

“You did not learn about this in your Chemistry class,” I said patiently.

“No.”

“Then where?”

“It’s true. I think you can taste like soy sauce and orange juice man!”

“So what are you going to do? Stick your balls in a bowl of orange juice and see if you can taste it?” I asked.

“Nah, man. I’m not going to do it. But I’m just sayin’. Just look it up.”

So, with considerable misgivings, I picked up my phone. Opened Google. And began to type:

t-a-s-t-e- -b-u-d-s-

And then I noticed the suggested completions.

“‘Taste buds on balls’ is the second suggestion?” I asked incredulously.

“It’s trending right now,” my husband said.

And he was right. The article I opened was dated just four days earlier and acknowledged that the internet was suddenly fascinated with a study published in 2013 that stated two protein receptors allow certain tastes to be recognized in cells throughout the body, including – you got it – testes. Apparently, they are critical for fertility.

I then read to him: “But whether or not these taste receptors create…typical taste is another question. Indeed having tested the theory, many Internet users are disputing that any taste sensation occurs.”

“Great,” I said. “That means there are plenty of other guys out there sticking their balls in orange juice.”

“And soy sauce,” he said.

I sighed. I know I mentioned in a recent post that I treasure conversations with my 16-year-old son, but times like this… Oh, who am I kidding? I still love it. I just kind of wonder about him while we are talking.

Tick…Talk…

I don’t know about other teenage boys. So far, I only have the one. But I find the one I have to be a little lacking in the communication department. Trying to carry on a conversation with him is often less fruitful than talking to an infant. At least the infant makes eye contact, coos in a way that seems responsive, and maybe drools on you a bit. This guy, he just looks somewhere past your shoulder or toward the floor and shrugs. Mumbles in a way that could be words or could just be him clearing his throat. Waits quietly for you to release him.

That’s what makes the talkative times so unbelievable and special. I drink them in and try to store them up, in the hopes the maternal high will hold me over until the next time. It’s what makes me willing to talk about literally anything, just to keep the conversation going. I’ll talk NFL, NBA, rap stars, internet personalities, high school drama, Modern Warfare. Literally anything. Or, at least, I’ll ask questions and sit back and bask in the flood of words coming out of his mouth, hoping each question will keep the hole in the breached dam open just a little bit longer.

I had one of those nights recently. I came home from work late. Very late. It was almost 8:00 in the evening. Daryl was in his bedroom, I think. I’m not sure because he was walking toward me just as soon as I entered the house. He was already talking before I had set down all of my belongings. He had a big smile on his face.

“I’m moving up to varsity,” he said.

“This week?” I asked.

“No. For the playoffs. I’ll finish the season on JV this week.”

“Oh. That’s not a surprise, right? I thought the whole starting team was moving up for the playoffs.”

“No.” He was obviously pleased. “Only about 7 of us moved up.” He rattled off some names. I started preparing a salad for my late dinner. I asked questions about the names he didn’t mention. We talked about who moved up and who didn’t and why we thought that was and whether he was likely to actually play.

“They said they might put us in for special teams some. And maybe a play or two. Maybe.”

I sat down next to my husband to eat my salad. I expected our son to wander off but he kept standing at the corner of the table, shifting his weight and flipping his hair back, and talking. Talking, talking, talking.

It was, simply put, glorious.

By the next night, we were back to our regularly scheduled programming. He didn’t look up from the PS4 when I walked in the door. He didn’t say hello. I wondered if he even noticed I was home. When I spoke to him, he’d quickly mute his microphone so his friends wouldn’t hear me, then he’d nod or give a one-syllable reply before resuming the online conversation about the game.

I was busy working on a project later in the evening when my husband walked up and said, “Did Daryl tell you about getting pulled over today?”

“By a cop?!” I asked, shocked. How, exactly, does a newly-minted sixteen year old fail to mention that?

“Yes,” my husband smiled. When I asked if he freaked out, he responded, “Thelma said he did.”

“Wait, Thelma?” Apparently a friend happened to be driving by and saw it. She said he looked really worried. It was during the school day. He was returning to the high school from a class at the middle school and had two other students with him. It was a legitimate trip for legitimate reasons, but having more than one passenger is technically against state law. I would have expected him to be terrified!

He didn’t get a ticket – just a warning for his brake lights not working. But still. I would have expected getting pulled over to rank up there with making varsity on newsworthy events. But then, I’m not a teenage boy.

I got his attention later that evening. He muted his mic. I asked him to come talk to me when he finished that round. “You aren’t in trouble,” I reassured the lad who was not the least bit concerned about what I wanted. The mic was already released; his attention had never left the screen.

A few minutes later he came into the bedroom, where I was propped up against pillows, writing this blog post. He paused at the corner of the bed, glanced at me, and rubbed his right arm with his left hand while he waited for me to speak.

“Is there anything you forgot to tell me about today?”

I got a brief confused glance and a mumbled “I don’t think so.”

“Nothing out of the ordinary happened in your day?” There was a brief pause.

“Oh, do you mean the brake light?” he asked.

“You getting pulled over. Yes. That’s what I’m talking about.”

He shrugged. “I wasn’t worried about it. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.”

“That’s not what the bystander said.”

“What?”

“Someone saw it. They said you looked freaked out.”

“I wasn’t. I told Brian and Aaron that it was probably a taillight or something.”

“You were away from school during school hours with more than one passenger and you weren’t worried at all?”

“No.” Shrug. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Ok.”

Silence.

“Just for the record, this is the kind of thing I expect to hear about.”

A single nod.

“Anything else happen today that I should know about?”

A single head shake.

“Bomb threat? Lock-down? Teacher had a heart attack and you had to use the defibrillator on them?”

Slight smile, amused huff, more pronounced head shake followed by a “no.”

And that was it. He was back to his game and I was back to my blog. Wondering what makes him tick and when the cat would release his tongue again. And could I hold over until then. Ticktock… Ticktock… Tick… Talk…