I was in graduate school in Wilmington and signed up to substitute teach to help support me and my one son left at home. His name is Anthony.
It so happened on this morning, my substitute assignment was for his high school. As we drove to school together, I chatted brightly about the day’s assignment and whether or not I’d teach a class he was in? He said if that happened to mark him present, but he was skipping class. Why? Was I that shameful to have as a mother?
We arrived on campus a little early, and I got a very good parking spot close to the school building. I had a new (used) car and was still getting adjusted to it. As I reached for my things in the backseat, I noticed Anthony was moving fairly quickly. I had envisioned us walking into school together. It looked like he was rushing so he could go ahead of me.
As he got out of the car, he closed the door firmly. I was just getting out myself and saw that I’d never be able to keep up with him. Just as my door slammed shut, the car horn began beeping over and over, as if the car were being broken into.
“Hey,” I yelled after him. “Hey!” I yelled to his quickly departing back.
He stopped briefly and turned around. “We don’t know each other today. You’re on your own.” With that he jogged off and I was left wondering how to make my new (used) car quit beeping its horn.
I must have pressed every button in the car. I’m not sure what I did, but eventually it quit beeping. I trudged into school silently thanking God that this was my last teenager and knowing it couldn’t last forever. Wasn’t it just a year or two ago that he was saying to drop him two blocks from where he was going so no one would see him with me? When I’d ask “How will they think you got here?”, he just shrugged and said, “Here was FINE. Stop HERE.”
I told every student I taught that day that I was Anthony’s mother. Most of them didn’t know him, but a few did. When he told me at dinner that night about a girl who said she had his mother for a substitute that day, I smiled and asked how did THAT make him feel?
“Cool,” he replied.
Don’t try to understand teenagers. It cannot be done.