How well do we know our kids? Because my daughters are grown up now, I learned about some of their secret adventures from their middle- and high-school years only recently. Their exploits, as revealed from a perspective of adult liberation, were very telling. Here’s what I took away from their decision to share with me their adventures playing hooky, encounters with heartthrobs, rule breaking and other minor misdeeds: I must take to the grave my own school days shinanigans at all cost!
I usually post humorous stories. I look for comic relief in tense situations. And, for the most part, that will continue. I have, however, written a short-short story inspired by the fact that we mothers and fathers don’t always know what is happening in our children’s lives, and that’s scary.
This is a fictional account inspired by a set of photos and a discussion with a trusted confidant, who survived parenting boys. The story appears in its entirety, however diminutive, below.
Cookie and Me
“C’mon, Zi. Let’s go. They’re waiting,” Cookie urges me from my seat in Mr. Clanahan’s sophomore biology class the way she does every day at 2:15 when school lets out at George Washington High.
Cookie took my ordinary name, Suzanne, and dubbed me, not Suzie, but Zi in September when we became friends. For three months I have felt like a sleek, agile, kickboxing star of a video game or graphic novel. Zi! I imagine myself in a tight blue spandex leotard and tights with metallic thigh-high boots. A lightening bolt adorns my chest. My eyes are oversized with heavy lashes and I frown, anticipating the appearance of a teenage menace whom I will defeat. A shock of thick yellow hair hangs over one eye in signature Anime style. Cool. I can take on a cartoon world.
My mom doesn’t know that I like to be called Zi, or that I hang out with Cookie. She wouldn’t like it.
“Coming,” I say, shoving my Cover Girl compact into my Vera Wang cosmetic pouch, and grabbing my Eddie Bauer backpack—the one with sterling studs outlining the pocket where I keep the iPhone my dad gave me for getting A’s.
I always jump when Cookie speaks. I don’t mind. She’s a year and a half older, after all. She’d had to repeat fifth grade the year her mom died and her dad went to prison. Sad.
We rush passed dorky freshmen who are meandering in the halls all slow and sheep-like. We ignore fellow sophomores who do the same. The juniors actually sneer. But that could be because of Cookie’s fashionably ripped fishnets and blue hair. Or maybe because they aren’t allowed to get piercings or tattoos. Jealous. Of course, I’m not allowed either. If I were allowed, I’d do my eyebrow and lip. But probably not my tongue or nipples like Cookie.
Then we strut passed the senior jocks. Cookie showed me how. They are playing a lively round of One-Up. I am certain Joaquin looks my way. Great hair. Nice tan. Hot bod. I give him a sideways glance and wish to myself, Notice me. Notice me. Notice me. Darn. What do senior jocks know, anyway?
We are finally off campus. Mr. Clanahan pulls up in his slick, red two-door Ford Mustang, revving the engine. Mr. Walters, the track coach, is in the back seat. What?
“You first. Get in,” Cookie says.
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