The teenager moto,”I HATE YOU!”. was followed by the ritual door slam. Benjamin raised his eyebrows and smiled as he shook his head at Susan, his wife. A week earlier, they received a letter in the mail concerning Isaac’s attitude towards his classmates. Upon further inquiring at the school Benjamin learnt his son recently started isolating himself from his peers. Although this was unusual behavior for Isaac, Benjamin knew that this was not an unusual behavior for a high school teenager. “You wouldn’t understand.” was the only answer received after confronting his son about the letter.
Seeing her husband at his wits end, she decided to try her hand at the situation.
“May I come in?”
After a low acknowledgement, Susan stepped in with a tray of milk and cookies.
A heavy sigh accompanied his rolling eyes. “Mom, I’m not eight years old. You don’t have to bring me cookies and milk when you want to talk.”
“You’re assumption is so cute.” she remarked. Setting down she took a sip of milk. “We received a letter from the school, and that has us concerned. As parents, we tried to provide the best for our children. We also allow room for growth and try not to smother our children with too much affection or concern. Now, if you could explain, in more detail than you gave your father, what is going on, I would appreciate that.”
“Finish that phrase and I’ll make sure that you wish you never knew those words existed.”
Isaac looked up. He had never heard his mother talk in such manner. Although she was a petite 5′ 4″ woman, there was a sternness in her soprano voice that made his spine crawl. Her poise was calm, but Isaac could sense that she was ready to unleash an assault. Neither parents had raised their hands in an abusive manner, and it had been years since he received his last spanking. No, this was different, he could tell that he was on the threshold of a new type of punishment. Whatever it was he knew that he could take it. All he had to do was wake up, go to school, and come home. As long as he kept his life simple, they couldn’t take anything away.
He didn’t have a phone, didn’t have a car, he didn’t even hang out with friends after school. He enjoyed coming home, doing his homework, then reading. Fiction, non-fiction, self-help, classics, and new age, he had a wide variety of books he loved to read. He looked up at his mother, who was setting there in silence, nibbling away at a cookie. The books, she is after my books! Realizing his position in the conversation Isaac changed his course.
“I’m not isolating myself. I just like the quiet. I can think clearer when there’s not fifty people trying to talk to me at once.” He watch for any expression on her face that would revealed her acceptance.
Taking another bite of cookie Susan began to talk “See.” cookie crumb sprayed from her lips. “You do know other phrases.”
“Rude!” Isaac exclaimed.
“Yes.” she agreed as she stood up. “Think of it as a visual metaphor on how you have been acting towards your father.” Grabbing her tray she started to exit. “He’s going to finish this conversation with you.”
Isaac sat there in disbelief. She wasn’t listening. She was baiting him for a different comment. Benjamin walked in with a box.
“Are you ready to talk about school.”
Habitually the words escaped Isaac’s mouth, “You wouldn’t understand.”
“I figured as much. Your mother gave me instructions to take your books if you said that exact phrase.”
“But it’s Friday. What am I suppose to read over the weekend?”
“Take that question up with your mother. You don’t want to talk about what’s bothering you… fine… but at least let us know you’re ok.” Picking up the loaded box Benjamin turned around. “I’d explain it more clearly, but you wouldn’t understand.”
Setting the box on the counter, a rant and slam was heard from down the hall.
“You know he gets that from you.” Benjamin stated.
“Yea, I suppose. It wasn’t until my books were taken away, that I started talking to my parents. Everything that I thought they had done wrong as parents has turned out to be not-so-bad.” she smiled at her husband. “There’s no instructions for raising kids, but there are memories of what worked for me.”