Hurricane Arthur had thumped the coast for hours, causing the Butler family to lose power just after dinner time. Neither the television, PlayStation, computer, nor wireless internet could entertain her two teenage children. So they sat on the living room couches in the dark, waiting.
It was very quiet at first. Debbie’s attempts to start conversation were as uninspiring as ever. Her children responded with single words and without elaboration to questions about school, their sports teams, their father. She stopped trying and eventually the kids started a game called ‘When do you think the power will be back on.’ One of them would say ‘Now!’ but nothing would happen. And then the other would say ‘Now!’ but it didn’t come back on then either.
After a few dozen rounds of that game, she told them to be quiet. And so they were. Her son restlessly looked around, squinting through candlelight at the art on the walls. He pointed at a painting of a young man working in a wheat field and said “That guy looks like Randy Pardo.”
His sister looked over. “Yeah, sorta. I’m pretty sure his family actually owns a wheat field too.”
“Who’s Randy Pardo?” asked Mom.
“He’s the basketball team captain and he’s sooooo cute. Kiss, kiss, kiss!”
“Shut up!” yelled the sister, throwing a pillow at him.
Debbie wasn’t embarrassed at all. She was excited to learn something about her kids. “You like this boy?” she asked.
“He’s okay. We went out a few times.”
“Yeah, Mom, I’m almost fourteen.”
“Fourteen is not old. Certainly not old enough to go on dates without telling me. Or your father. What if something happened?”
“It’s fine, Mom. Nothing’s going to happen. Besides we’re using condoms.”
“La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la!” chanted Debbie as she stood up and la-la’ed her way out of the living room, down the hallway, and into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
She could still hear daughter’s distant voice calling ‘Grow up, Mom!’ Debbie called back, ‘I’m in the bathroom!’
She sat on the closed toilet, trying to remember what conversations she had with her kids about sex. She couldn’t remember having even one but there must have been some, right? She suddenly realized how much she trusted the public school system.
After a few minutes she composed herself, held her chin high and opened the door. She calmly entered the living room and sat down as her kids watched her. She turned robotically to her daughter, forced a smile, and said, ‘I’m glad you’re being so responsible.
Her daughter scowled.
“Heh,” laughed her son. “This is awesome,”