“Teen Parenting 101” by Kaylie Jones
Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.
This week, Kaylie Jones spins a tale of a teen, the boy she’s interested in, and the lengths to which her mother will go to demonstrate her disapproval.
Teen Parenting 101 (fiction)
by Kaylie Jones
“That boy Carlson is a liar and a rogue,” I tell my daughter Eve on a Saturday night as she primps to leave for a house party in Brooklyn. “I wouldn’t go near that boy with a ten-foot pole.”
“Oh, right,” answers the fifteen-year-old genius wearing black satin shorts that mold to the crescents of her ass, “because you’ve done so well with your choices in men.”
“Your father,” I counter patiently, “is not a liar or a rogue. He is insane. He has a treatment-resistant personality disorder and major depression. There is a difference.”
Her father is out of our lives now. Moved back to Florida, where he comes from. No news from him is good news, as the old adage goes.
But this boy, this Carlson, is not stupid, I’ll give him that. He goes to Eve’s high school, a science-oriented public high school that accepts only the top 800 scores on a city-wide exam that is so hard and so unfair it causes kids to commit suicide. Eve said, “Bring it on,” aced the exam, and became a minority: only 20% of the kids who got in were white (78%, naturally, were Asian). This school was not my idea; I never would have gone to a school like that. Well, to be frank, I was too busy hanging out with the liars and rogues to ever have stood a chance of getting in.
Nora, my kickboxing coach, spiritual adviser, best friend, and godmother to Eve, tells me I can’t stop the child from going for the liars and rogues. It’s in our blood, she says. Nora used to be a heroin addict who carried a Smith & Wesson when she trolled the streets. She has been clean of all substances for twenty-three years and goes to two meetings a day. In those twenty-three years, three of her brothers have died of heroin overdoses, but she never slipped, she stayed clean and sober. An Amazon if I ever saw one; she has my back and my daughter’s back and will be the one to take over for me if I die. If I die, it will be of natural causes, or in an accident. I’ll throw myself off a roof before I’ll ever drink again. I have nineteen years and counting.
Eve applies Chanel lipstick in the mirror. Blood red, like a vampire. I hate this color; it totally washes out her beautiful face. But I am only the mother, no one listens to my opinion.
Honesty being the best policy, I’ve told Eve all along that if she tells me the truth, I will always stand by her. The truth, however, is sometimes hard to swallow.
Carlson, it turns out, is the school’s most successful Molly dealer. I was under the impression, from all the publicity and horror stories on the news, that Molly was a new killer drug—like Krokodil—from Russia, but Nora informed me it is only Ecstasy, or MDMA, which I enjoyed a great deal myself while in college. Clinical studies have shown that MDMA has a positive effect on patients with PTSD. There is no question that Eve and I suffer from some form of PTSD after living with her father all those years.
So while Eve is twisting the ends of her long locks with a curling iron, I bring up this delicate subject. “You know, my darling, that these pills they give you, this Molly, you don’t know where they come from. You don’t know what they put in them. Why, only last weekend, two teenagers died during a rave because their Molly was cut with something else—”
“Mom,” she says calmly, “please. Do you think I’m stupid? Carlson makes this Molly in his home lab. He’s a chemistry wiz.”
Is this good news? At least I know what she’s taking, and Carlson, after all, is a genius. He’s going to MIT next year.
“Maybe he’ll give you something else, though, sweetheart, like a roofie or something, to paralyze you so he can get his way with you.”
“But, Mom, I want to lose my virginity to him. He’s experienced, he knows what he’s doing. Isn’t that a good thing?”
Now comes the protection talk. “Please, please, please, honey, please be careful. A boy will insist he doesn’t have any condoms with him. They’ll say anything to not have to ‘ruin the experience’ with a condom. Please, honey. Here, I have some.” I run to my room, dig some Trojans out of the bedside drawer, and bring them back to her.
“Ew! Mom! Mom, why do you have condoms?”
In her mind I am so old, and I am her mom, so clearly no one in the world would want to have sex with me. This is fine. So I lie: “I got them for you.”
“Wow, Mom. Thanks!” She shoves them into her tiny clutch.
And she’s off to meet her girlfriends at the Starbucks down the street, where a car service that I am paying for will pick them up and drive them to the party in Brooklyn. I am paying for their return, too.
“Text me, honey. Please, let me know when you get there.”
“I will, Mom.”
Of course she won’t.
Two hours later, I’m still staring at my phone, waiting for a text from her to tell me they got there safely. My anxiety is so intense I feel like jumping out the window. I decide to do something productive and open her laptop to her Facebook page, which she never closes. It is easy to find this Carlson among her 600 friends.
Oh, he’s a liar and a rogue, all right. I can see it on his smirking, handsome face. In every photo of him, he is hugging some poor impressionable girl, and he wears a practiced look of utter boredom and indifference. I hate him.
I go back to my desktop computer and open my own Facebook page. I enter his name and click on Message.
Hey, Carlson. This is Eve’s mom. I suppose it’s a good thing she’s chosen you, an older boy, because most boys her own age couldn’t find a vagina with a flashlight. Do not tell my daughter I wrote you this message. I’m telling you right now, if you tell her, or if you hurt my kid—by that I mean if you don’t text her tomorrow and treat her with the utmost respect, and honor the fact that she has chosen you—I’m going to come down to that school and kick your ass in front of all your friends. I’ve been kickboxing for nineteen years, so believe me when I tell you I can do it, and I will. And you’d better use a condom.
Sincerely, Eve’s mom.
KAYLIE JONES’s newest endeavor is her imprint with Akashic, Kaylie Jones Books. Her flagship publication is Laurie Loewenstein’s Unmentionables, which will be published in January 2014. Kaylie’s most recent book is a memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me (HarperCollins, 2009) and her novel, A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries was adapted as a Merchant Ivory Film in 1998. Jones is the editor Long Island Noir, published in Spring 2012. Her nonfiction essay, Judite is included in Ann Hood’s Knitting Yarns, which will be published in November 2013. Kaylie and her daughter have just returned from studying kung fu in China with Shaolin monks.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Nov 12, 2013
Category: Terrible Twosdays | Tags: Long Island Noir, Laurie Loewenstein, Unmentionables, Terrible Twosdays, Kaylie Jones, Kaylie Jones Books, teenager, teens, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, Speak Now
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