There’s a Teenager in the House
Kerima Polotan Tuvera
There’s a teenager in my house. Until a few years ago, he was my son. But when he turned thirteen, he became also this tall stranger with new pimples around his nose and an insolence in his manners.
For nearly two years, there’s been an undeclared war between him and me. He wins the skirmishes but he loses the battles. He may get his way every now and then, but he knows that I make the big decisions. I am always tempted to punish him, and I am sure that he thought of fighting back. We are suddenly to each other two people we don’t like very much. He has ideas that shock me and I have standards that appall him.
Once or twice, we manage to rediscover each other. After a heated argument over why he should roll up his bedding and pick up his soiled clothes, and study his lessons, this teenager and I look into each other’s eyes. I search for the baby I woke up each dawn for, thirteen years ago. I do not know what he looks for in my face but he finds it there because he smiles. The anger vanishes between us although the issue is not solved. Strewn on the floor each morning will be his bedding. Close by, like the molting of a snake, are the algebra lessons undone, the comic books well-thumbed, the messy bathroom, the weeping young sisters, and the unwatered lawn….
When I surprised him in his room, I find him staring at the ceiling, daydreaming. I am reality. I am the enemy with my many dos and don’ts. Sometimes, I feel he and I will never reach each other again. Surely, he may not understand me till he’s a father himself and stands where I do now.
He says he will never marry, which is typically thirteenish. He says when he grows up he will get a good job. Then he will buy a fast car and take all the pretty girls riding. He goes to school which is not a rich man's son's school, and not a poor man's either. He was doing better last year in his studies, passing by a skin of his teeth. I am not too sure he...