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peak:

I went to church this morning... something I hadn't done in a while.


valley:

I haven't been productive since lunch... but it's only 5:48 p.m., so there's hope for me yet.


noise:

Some show on MTV about girls in jail.


sustenance:

Chicken strips @ lunch.


thoughts:

I need to drag my ass outside to play tennis...


[ i n - t e r - i m ]

Sunday, june 3rd


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Quote Du Jour:
"Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit."
(Dr. M. Scott Peck)

It's 2:59 a.m. Saturday morning. I'm writing this in a reporter's notebook in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart. Yeah, I know it's not the greatest place in the world to write... but it's not my house and that works for me. Because right now, my house isn't a fun place to be.

Tonight my brother and my mother had one of their notorious battles... except that it turned ugly and hateful in the end. The reason? Lack of understanding and lack of common sense. My mother was to blame for the former... my brother to blame for the latter.

He's 18 years old and, as of a couple of weeks ago, a high school graduate. In his mind, this makes him nex to invincible and practically on his own. Of course, he's neither. To my brother's credit, though, he's fairly responsible in his actions. No drugs for him and no sex, either. Alcohol has always been his vice... but he doesn't come home acting drunk and stupid. And that's something that can't be said about all of his friends. Friday night, my mom tried to reward him for his display of responsibility by lifting his curfew for the first time.

As a matter of practice, my brother's curfew is midnight or 12:30 a.m. He usually calls home to tell mom where he's at and what he's up to and she'll usually extend the curfew until 1 or 1:30. Tonight... with no curfew... he come home at 2:19. For reasons probably known only to God, my mom wasn't happy with this at all.

Their conversation on the matter started out calm enough with her telling Little Brother that he had abused his lack of a curfew. She told him that he wasn't acting responsible. Of course, since he had spent the night innocently hanging out at a friends house, Little Brother took offense to mom's comments. (And rightly so in my mind. Afterall, he came in only 39 minutes after his previous curfew record and was safe and sober.) Unfortunately, the resistance he issued sent the conversation through the heated discussion stage and right into the argument zone.

I'll be the first to admit that my family has trouble staying on subject during arguments. I'll also be the first to tell you that my mother was the one that passed this evil gene down to her offspring. The woman can remember almost every time she has ever been crossed... and there is no statue of limitations keeping her from bringing something up from the past. I will say that we're all improving on this bad trait, but we haven't reached perfection, yet.

With this information, you can imagine that as soon as tonight's heated discussion became an argument, it stopped being about coming home late. It covered a variety of topics (including Little Brother's varying chore performance level) and slid into a comparison between he and I. This is NEVER a good thing. We are night and day different and beyond comparison.

My mom talked about how I worked through high school and paid some of my auto insurance... and bought my own gas... and didn't ask for much more than food. Little Brother has never had steady employment but countered that with the fact that he's played football through high school and graduated with honors -- two things I did not do. (I left football and good grades behind in junior high.) Surprisingly, I stayed out of the debate... but the debate didn't stay away from me. My brother continued his defensive stance by pointing out that I had to have some money from mom to help pay for some of my college. My mother told him that he couldn't discuss my college career because his was still ahead of him. His scholarships could run out as mine did. He took this like a sword wound to the heart. He accused my mom of not having faith in him... he accused her of not supporting him... he said that she never told him that she was proud of him.

I think the boy has seen one too many Lifetime Movies with a main character that no one loves... because his accusations couldn't be further from the truth. And if I was mom, I probably would have beaten the fuck out of him for saying what he did.

*   *   *   *   *   *

This is the first time Little Brother has played the victim card... but I guess it was to be expected. Little Brother is never at fault. And our family has never been "Leave it to Beaver."

I'm not sure why, but Little Brother has been too good for his own family since sometime in junior high. There is a stage every child goes through where they are embarrassed to be with their mom... my brother never grew out of that phase. We have one of those photo frames that displays every school picture from kindergarten to senior year. About seventh grade... the smirk of self confidence appears and never leaves. From that time -- in his mind -- he's never needed anyone but himself... and he definitely hasn't needed his family since. For the most part, he goes over to other friends houses... other friends don't come to ours. And we don't exactly live in a shack, either (a little shy of 2,000 sq. ft. in a nice neighborhood). I say all of this because if there ever was a time where he thought mom wasn't showing him how proud she was of him.. it was because his back was to her and he missed it. (I'm speaking in the figurative sense, of course.)

*   *   *   *   *   *

His words cut through my mom. When I left, she was crying in her room. He was watching TV in the den. I told him that he had fucked up big time. "I was just standing up for myself," he replied. I told him that what he had said to her was bullshit. I told him many of the things I've written here. It didn't sink into his thick skull. He said, "she came after me so I stood my ground. I'm not afraid to say what I think."

Maybe he's not afraid to say what he thinks. But Lord knows that the boy has to learn to think about what he says.

copyright © 2001-02, Thomas Fletcher. all rights reserved.