When you’re 12, life is pretty simple. All you have to do is a little homework, a few chores, and spend the rest of your waking life 1) annoying the snot out of your older brother, 2) pretending you don’t hear your parents when they call your name, 4) watching vines of guys getting hit in/on/around their balls, or 3) complaining about the fact you have no clean socks.
But a few weeks ago, my son Nick’s life turned from simple to simply terrible. Simply horrible. Simply no good. Simply very bad.
It started with one of the other moms telling me at a lacrosse game on May 16 about a book report each kid in the class was working on, due on May 29. Funny, Nick hadn’t mentioned anything to me. So on the way home, I asked him about it.
“Oh yeah,” he responded. “I have to draw a comic strip representation of the story. It should be easy.”
“Have you started reading the book yet?” I questioned.
“Um…no. It’s only 200 pages, so I figured I could do that the night before and just draw the comic strip, too.”
Read a 200+ page book and draw a comic strip representative of the characters, storyline, plot, conflict, and resolution in one night when you’ve had a whole month to work on it? Terrible, Nick. Just terrible.
On May 19, I got a call from the assistant principal at Nick’s school. It seems that during recess (his favorite part of school) he and classmates had been playing kickball. A kid who (allegedly) constantly interrupts the game, goofs off, and doesn’t play fair started doing just that. And Nick — in his words — just snapped. “He does it every recess and it ruins the game and then we don’t get to spend our time playing because of it!” The Assistant Principal let me know that Nick had started chasing the kid when he purposely kicked the ball over the fence, effectively ending the game. At some point the kid turned around and hit Nick in the face.
Both boys were called into the principal’s office separately. Nick had given his side, the other kid told his side, and both sets of parents received a call.
So, tell the assistant principal you ‘just snapped’, and chased a kid because he ruined your kickball game at recess? Horrible, Nick. Just horrible.
On May 20, we got an email from one of Nick’s teachers. He was missing some homework and she asked us to check his binder when he brought it home. I’m not sure how most teachers define ‘some’, but I certainly don’t define it as more than 8 homework assignments not done/not turned in since early April. The teacher had provided a list of all the missing items and highlighted them. My husband spent most of the evening barking at Nick because he’d been telling us he either did it in school or had no homework.
Later that evening when the barking subsided, Nick sat with me at the kitchen table and cleaned out his binder, put papers in the sections where they belonged, and completed EVERY LAST FUCKING PAPER LABELED HOMEWORK that I could find.
At one point he wailed, “but mom, we did ratios way back in January. This one doesn’t matter.”
To which I hissed back “It. Matters. To. Me.”
Which made Nick’s face do something like this:
Not doing your homework, not turning it in when you do complete it, and lying to us about having and/or doing your homework? No good, Nick. Just no good.
On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I was working from home. I heard a strange noise coming from our deck where the dogs were. Going to investigate, I found Jake with what appeared to be a grin on his face as he chewed. I attempted to reason with him … “what is that?”…”give me that”…”this is not a game you dumb furbag”. Reasoning with him didn’t work. When I was finally able to snatch the object from him, it was the remnants of Nick’s retainer case. And no remnants of a retainer.
This was his third retainer because 1) our other dog Mocha sampled and destroyed the first one, and 2) because Nick thought his pocket was a great place to store the second retainer until he sat on it and broke it in half.
For the record, retainers cost 12 pedicures (@ $25 per pedicure), people. TWELVE!
My husband and I had no idea if the retainer had been in the case, since Nick is notorious for forgetting to put it back in after meals, after brushing teeth, or after his parents have harassed him repeatedly with comments like “perhaps a little Gorilla glue will help you remember to keep the damn thing in your mouth!”.
So when Nick danced in the door that afternoon and shouted out “Three day weekend, baby!”, he had no idea his celebration would prove premature. My husband called him into the office where he was working. I heard him ask Nick “do you have your retainer in your mouth?”. Nick mumbled something back. And the next thing I heard may have rhymed with “Well why the duck not?”
Leaving your retainer case where counter-surfer Jake can get it, so that your parents have to buy a third replacement retainer for $300 in less than a year? Very bad, Nick. Very bad. (You too, Jake)
Let’s just hope his brother Alexander doesn’t have a similar kind of experience…