There Is No Manual For Raising Teenage Boys

“Change is hard and I am not always good at accepting it. It comes from being a fighter and a scrapper of the first order. There are things, people and places that I remember. There are moments in time that are seared upon my soul and try as I might they don’t just disappear and I don’t just let go. There aren’t very many of them, but the very few that make the cut are deep. They burn and they ache and I am too stubborn not to wade into the deeper waters. I seek out the places where the fire burns brightest and I jam my hand inside the flame.

I stand there with  my jaw clenched, sweat pouring down my brow and refuse to utter a sound. But the echoes of silence inside my head continue to reverberate and there is no place to hide. Inside I stand in front of my accuser and nod my head as the charges are read.  I am, I said and I did. I went. I was and I would…again.” The Naked Truth

The Naked Truth Should Be Unvarnished

There is no manual for raising teenage boys so I am doing the best I can. I listen to his stories and try to make sure I really hear his concerns and then surf back in time to the place where I was the same age as he is now.

Sometimes I feel like I turn the wheel all the way back and the man I am now is the boy I once was. More capable of understanding the fears he has about where he is at and more likely to relate to some of the other stuff I nod my head because I get it.

But sometimes there is no way to bridge the gap and I wonder what world he is living in and ask myself what the hell I did wrong because it makes no sense for him to complain.

He has clothes on his back, a roof over his head and food in his belly. He has already done and seen more than I had at the same age so I wonder how I failed to instill more gratitude in him.

Alone with my thoughts I stare at the ceiling and try to figure out how I fucked up and what I can do to correct it because I can’t stomach some of the things that are happening, can’t stand to see or hear it and then I take a deep breath and wonder if maybe I am being unreasonable.

My eyes are closed and I am working hard to spin the wheel again. I need to get back to 1983 and need to try to see who I was as best I can because I need to figure it out.

I need to figure out if maybe I am making myself crazy about nothing or if maybe there is something unusual going on.

That boy that I used to be feels me searching for him and he has no more interest in being interrogated by the man I have become than he did by anyone so he gives me the finger and disappears into the dark.

I feel waves of anger and fear radiating from a corner and I know I have found him.

Concept Of Man Holding iPad In Front Of Face With Clouds And Countryside

The Past and The Present

He steps out of the shadows, chest puffed out and defiantly pushes a finger into my chest.

“You got fat. You got bald and you got stupid.”

He hasn’t figured out there is power in silence so I say nothing and wait.

“You are just another old guy who thinks you know something but you don’t. You swore we would be more than some old fuck. You promised that we’d be cool, in shape and playing for the Dodgers or at least the Lakers.

“I could put a bullet in my head. Could jump off of a bridge or play in traffic and then what would you have. You’d be a real ghost and there’d be no  one to listen to your insecure whispers.

He doesn’t respond, just shakes his head at me and I wonder if maybe he knows something more than I do. It is not supposed to be that way.

“Old, fat and stupid.”

Before I can respond he slips back into the shadows and this time he is truly gone. I hear the echoes of his accusations and wonder about the truth of his words.

I am doing my best to be the father I want to be and to live the kind of life I want but right now it just feels like I am coming up short.

In spite of my attempt to coax him back for one more conversation there are no responses and as my eyes close I think I hear someone laughing.

Can’t say if I am dreaming but I must be because both of my grandfathers are with me. The three of us are standing at the lake, smoking cigars and talking or at least I think we are.

I can’t hear their words but I know that they hear mine and just as I am about to hear their words of wisdom I notice that I can see my reflection in the lake but I can’t see theirs.

Gonna Make You Sweat

My grandfathers are gone and I am in the middle of some dance floor trying to figure out how the hell I got here. Something is off and I know it but I can’t quite figure it out.

Gonna Make You Sweat is playing and we are all dancing to it. It feels like I am with the guys from the house but I am not sure, can’t figure it out  but they should be here. If I have moved back in time and this is playing they have to be here but I can’t see them.

Some woman is dancing with me but I can’t make out her face, it is too dark. She is moving perfectly with me and now I am really confused because it has never been this perfect. I can two step and slow dance well enough to make a woman smile but dancing faster, well I have never been this good.

I catch my reflection in the mirror and wonder if I am stuck in some sort of fun house because it keeps alternating between a big guy and a little one.

It almost looks like the big version is morphing into the little one and I begin to wonder if it is really that easy to get back into shape.

That teenage boy comes from out of the shadows and surprises me. He tells me I am doing a better job than I an realize and reminds me that we made it.

“Have faith in your abilities and think about all those silly and stupid moments. We made it through those and we’ll make it through this one too.”

I nod and smile at him but I am silent because I just don’t know what to say.

He puts a hand on my shoulder and tells me I have this. I find my voice long enough to ask how and when he says “because we know you do” I hear my grandfathers’ voices.

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