Making Out: Tenacity

Making Out is a series centered on how Jess Burnquist, mother, writer, and teacher is "making out' as she processes adolescent issues amid the glare of parenthood and the shadows of nostalgia.

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A week ago a student came to see me and he spoke about his inability to complete work.

“I set all of my work on my floor. I organize it--know what I’m supposed to do, and then I go to sleep or play video games. I just can’t. I can’t.”

This young man is a senior and senioritis is real. I have tried hard-ball with this student. Didn’t work. Neither did sympathy. So, it’s onto guilt.

“You do realize that there are children and teenagers in parts of our world who are dying to receive an education, right? Dying. They would do anything to be in your position and, well, you’re acting spoiled. Complete three assignments tonight.”

He completed one, but it was the one worth the most points. At home, I print articles about Malala to attach to his incomplete assignments. I like this kid a lot. He’s incredibly bright and he is clearly self-sabotaging. It might be fear of the future, or exhaustion from the challenges of high school.

At home, I also take note of my son. He is a junior this year and has applied himself to his studies in ways that have surprised and delighted those around him--most importantly himself. I wonder about next year and his desire or ability to push through the senior year slumps.

I notice his tendency to lack patience and try to gauge how much this will impact his future. I am sucker-punched by time. We are at a countdown now. One year and some months before my baby boy leaves our life together to create his own. The emotions attached to such a realization swirl. They hover and catch me off-guard.

Two days ago I woke up and felt off and within an hour realized I had caught a stomach virus. In 48 hours all of us would be leveled by it. But on that first day, my son arrived home from school and asked if I needed anything. I answered him from a fevered and honest space. “I just really want a Coca Cola Icee.”

I heard the front door close.

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang. It was my son. “Hey, mama, I’ve been to two places but they only have cherry or raspberry Icees. I’m going to one more spot and didn’t want you to worry.” Shortly afterwards, my boy arrived with one Coca Cola Icee, which may as well have been named the Holy Grail. He then went to his room, put his music on a bit too loudly and did his homework without being nudged. No guilt necessary.

I didn’t tell him to turn it down. I just sipped on my Icee debating whether or not my dizziness was a side effect of the flu or a side effect from seeing my boy as the man he is becoming. Baby sips, I told myself. Baby sips.

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