So, what of the teenager while the rest of the family gallivants around the Eastern Seaboard? It just so happens that she surprised us all, and actually turned out to be the best kid on the whole vacation. But it sure didn’t look that way at the start. Shortly after our arrival at our beautiful hacienda next to the Motor Pool, the phone rings with a message from the teenager’s Mom. In a true panic, her Mom exclaims, “I give up! She won’t listen to me! I have no idea what she is up to, and frankly I am afraid to know! You have to do something with her, because she refuses to stay with me!”
As my ex-wife speaks, my blood turns ice cold and I am at a complete loss for words. (A rare event, I will assure you.) All I can do is croak back, “What happened?” She then explains that the teenager had lost her mind, was out control and refused to stay anywhere near her. Mom’s explanation is that she is “probably out having a huge party at your house. How dare you leave town!” Reminding her that I had little choice (which deep down she already understood), I told her that I would do my best to find out what was going on. Of course, this isn’t easy when the phone service is sporadic, the post switchboard is closing down, and you are physically four states away. Panic being a great mother of invention, I pulled out the trusty mobile phone, noting the whole time that the long distance and roaming charges would most likely put me in chapter 11, bankruptcy. (Yeah, it was that long ago! Now it is nothing, but in 1997?!)
After several attempts I finally reached my daughter at my house. Her voice appears to be fine, she sounds rather non-plussed, and certainly sounds as if she is not as out of control as I was already told. I ask, “What is going on? Your Mother is not real happy with you.” Yeah, your momma is torqued, your step-momma is torqued, and I am very confused....
“Oh, nothing really, I just don’t want to stay with her since she’ll bug me wanting to know why I just want to be alone. Besides you once said that you didn’t mind my staying at the house by myself.” God, why can she remember every offhand remark, recall it out of context, and hit me in the head with it, when she can’t even remember to pick up milk on the way home??
“Well, yeah, but never this long and that was purely by yourself, who else is there now?” Yeah, where is that low life, slack jawed, moron you call a boyfriend!!
“Nobody, in fact, I don’t want to be around anybody right now. I am tired, and frankly a week in hiding from some of my so called friends will be good for me.” Huh???
“What about your mother?” Okay I’m really confused now....
“I’ll see her tomorrow and stay with her some this week, but right now, I honestly just want to stay here by myself. You know it is great to not have those kids around! I kind of like this...” At this point, after having been cooped up with them for several days, I can agree with her. How long would it take me to sneak home?
“So, are you planning to have a party while I am gone?” Waste of breath, but the direct approach may just work.
“No way Dad, there is no way. Most of my friends would trash the house and act like jerks leaving me to clean up.” Great, now she is giving me what I want to hear. This is not good.
“Sounds like you need new friends.” Knowing full well she is way too defensive of her friends, I thought this would get a rise out of her.
“Yeah, well now maybe you understand why I don’t want to go anywhere.” Huh?? This doesn’t sound right.....
Was I proud of her as I hung up the phone? Nope, I was truly terrified. Did I believe what she told me? I wanted to believe, but actually, there was no way I was going to let it go without some verification. What did I do? Call the neighbor, of course! Sure enough, nobody had been near the house except my daughter, and it appeared like there was nothing going on. She noticed the TV was on most of the day and well into the evening. She saw that my daughter had brought home fast food the night before, along with a movie from the local video store, and that she was picking the mail up. That was it! Damn, now this is scary. Even the neighbor is not seeing the party that I still know must be going on.
Not feeling much better, I called her mother back, and tried to explain the deal. She still wasn’t completely convinced, and I wasn’t either. As the week progressed I continued to check on the teenager, and each time the report was the same. She did stay some with her mother, but otherwise, she stayed at the house by herself. The neighbor verified it all, and stated that the only person who ever came by the house was one guy carrying a pizza, driving a car with a sign on top, who left within 4 minutes of arrival. Now, why can’t she be that good the rest of the year????? Or was she?? Hey that was probably her boyfriend and it was just a real quick party!! No, I guess not, he wouldn’t know what you called the topping on the pizza.............. (I will confess that my daughter is now married to a guy who DOES know the difference. In fact, huge props to my son- in-law, who is actually depicted as a character in my book. Through his eyes, we describe a lot of what is going on away from the mountain, and in real life, he is every bit as awesome. Thank God he came along!!!) ~ Michael S. Pauley