Tag Archive for Middle School Life

OVERHEARD: “What’s In the Box?” (I Love My Daughter, Part 283)

With my 14-year-old boy in the car, we run a couple of errands. First to the Farmer’s Market because we are obsessed with Jimmy Makes Pizza. Next to the library, return some things. Then to pick up Maggie, age 12, at her friend’s house.

Okay, so that’s the scene. I am in the driver’s seat (literally, but alas, not always figuratively), Gavin is in front seat. In the back, there’s a pizza box.

It looks something like this:

Maggie gets into the car, settles in, lays her lacrosse stick across the floor, and asks:

“What’s in the box?”

Gavin glances at me, blood on his tongue, but says nothing. (I tell myself to compliment my son later for this rare show of restraint.)

“Pizza,” I tell her, and drive on.

Love that girl.

Overheard: “Hey, Dad, when I’m 18, I want to get a tattoo of a cat on my stomach.” (Parenting a Middle Schooler, pt. 3)

I am sitting in the living room in early evening, reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Maggie, my 6th-grader, is doing handstands not five feet away — because that is what Maggie does these days, continual handstands. Every day, all day.

Maggie: “When I’m 18, I want to get a tattoo of a cat on my stomach.”

Dad: “Oh?”

Maggie: “Yeah, except I want my belly button to be the cat’s butt.”

Dad: “Is that so?”

Maggie: “Wait, I’ll draw you a picture!”

And she does.

Overheard: “I don’t know, ask Mom.” (Parenting a Middle Schooler: The Joyful Saga, Part 1)

To be clear: I love my 8th-grade son. I’m proud of him in a thousand different ways. He’s terrific; he completes me. It’s just that . . .

I kind of want to kill him sometimes. I mean, if it were possible to do that and still have him be alive . . . later on, just not now, exactly. Sigh. It’s complicated. I just . . . arrrrggghhh!

Is that so very wrong?

Anyway, about the overheard comment. It was spoken directly to me. My son (we’ll call him Gavin because that’s his name) and I were in a car and I was trying to find out what kind of sandwich he wanted. That was the sum total of my agenda: I wanted to buy the boy a sandwich, but I didn’t know what kind of sandwich, exactly. So I asked.

And the asking of this question annoyed my son. Okay? I was irritating my 13-year-old kid by asking him what kind of sandwich he wanted.

Add this to the topical list of things he didn’t, and doesn’t, “feel like” talking about. Sandwiches.

For more atmosphere: We were in the car and I was driving to the Soccerplex at 8:35 on a Saturday morning. I could have been in my bathrobe, reading The New York Times, sipping coffee, but I was not, no. Gavin had to ref two soccer games so I was driving him across town. Twenty-five minutes, there and back. I planned to return to pick him up at 11:30, when I would then shuttle him back home, he would get dressed for baseball, and we’d rush to Line Drive Field for the baseball game — which I would help coach for two and a half more hours of “my” Saturday (“my” in quotes, oh yes).

Because the boy would be hungry and hurried, I offered — at my wife’s suggestion — to stop first at Subway before picking him up, in order to deliver to said son a sandwich of his own devising. A small treat for the young prince.

It was at this point I asked, “What kind of sandwich would you like?” — much in the way a footman on “Downton Abbey” might inquire, say, about the precise hour Master would care to depart for the afternoon quail hunt.

Yes, love this show.

Yet my question irritated Gavin. He’d already been over it with Mom. So he rolled his eyes, grumbled, groaned “I don’t know,” and suggested that it might be easier if I asked someone other than . . . the eater of the sandwich!

And you know what? I didn’t bite. I didn’t offer any of a half-dozen responses that sprang to mind. Nope. I shut up, drove the car, asked Mom, bought the sandwich, picked the boy up, limo’d him home, coached the game, etc.

Thank you for listening. Is my time up already?

Funny, for Anyone with a Middle Schooler: Brain-Dead Teen

“We just keep reminding ourselves that the real Caitlin is already gone. It’s just her body texting.”

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