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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Foreign Language (12/09/10)

TITLE: Barriers
By Pamela Lake


Erik stared in disbelief at his mother, skateboard under his arm.

“What do you mean we’re going to church this morning?” His voice was loud and incredulous. “Since when do you care about going to church?”

June flinched. The past year had been challenging with Eric. He was fourteen and an official skateboarder, complete with attitude. “Well, we haven’t been there in such a long time and I thought that it would be a good thing. How could it possibly hurt?”

“Mom! There’s no way I’m going to church! I don’t know those people! I’m hanging out with Trevor, Link and the rest of the guys! We’re supposed to meet downtown –“

“Excuse me, young man, but you're not supposed to be skating downtown!” Her voice raised in volume to match Erik’s. “You’re not going down to skate by the underpass are you? How many times do I have to tell you that downtown is completely off limits?” She noticed that she was stabbing her finger like a dagger into the phone book left lying on the kitchen counter, emphasizing each word with a poke. “Anything could happen to you down there!”

“What? What’s going to happen? Nothing’s going to happen to me, Mom.” His voice took on a mocking tone. June closed her eyes, feelings of frustration coursing through her body. A headache hovered on the edges. She rubbed her temples in a vain effort to prevent the ensuing pain.

“I’m not a baby anymore Mom! Stop treating me like one! I’m fourteen and I’m old enough to hang out with my friends down there!” Eric shouted, his face red and contorted with anger. Holding his board under his arm, he walked out the kitchen door, slamming it behind him.

Tears welled up in June’s eyes. Where was that sweet redheaded little boy she had once nursed as a baby? She remembered how he once looked up into her eyes with an earnest smile on his face, his face sticky with cookie crumbs and fruit juice, saying, “I’ll still be your baby. Mommy, even when I’m forty-two.”

Now her adorable redheaded boy dyed his shoulder length hair black. What used to be a glorious curly mop was straightened out every morning. He lived on MySpace, Facebook and who knew whatever else the current trend in social networks, only to come out of his room when leaving for school or skating.

It was like they were two strangers speaking different languages living under the same roof. They spoke at one another rather than to each other. It seemed like one misunderstanding after another – and where once there was a bridge, there was only a widening chasm June did not know how to cross. She found it exhausting.

There was a small knock on the kitchen door. “Hel-loo?” came a sing-song voice.
June looked over and saw her plump friend, Millie, leaning into the kitchen.

“Oh, hi Millie, want my son? He’s currently on the market.” June’s voice was tired. “Listen, I don’t know about going this morning.”

“What’s up?” said her friend, letting herself into the kitchen. “Does it have anything to do with the ‘Raging Bull’ I just passed on the street?”

June smiled. Leave it to Millie to put a humorous spin on a decidedly unfunny moment.

“Indeed it does. Millie, I just don’t know what to do with this kid. He doesn’t listen to me, he challenges me on everything.” She quickly qualified her statement when she noticed Millie’s upraised brow. “Okay, well, maybe not everything but it certainly feels like everything.”

“I take it he wasn’t too keen on the idea of going to church?” Millie walked over to the cupboard and opening the door, reached in and got a mug. She then poured herself a cup of coffee.

“Oh that’s an understatement,” June laughed.

Millie had three grown sons, James, Frank, and Bill. James, the oldest, was now married. Her other two were still in college. She had become June’s go-to and support during this difficult time with Erik.

Millie smiled, “Listen honey, this too shall pass. This is a season that we all get to go through. Do you remember Bill sitting in the back of church writing Zen poetry?”


“This is a stage, a season. They speak teenage, we speak adult and we don’t have a clue what the other is saying. He's bucking the system, feeling out his boundaries. It passes. Come on honey, let’s go to church.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
diana kay12/17/10
oh such a lovely well written piece on that gulf between the language of teenagers and their parents. I am glad that Millie turned up having lived through and survived that part of her life journey.
Philip Barrington12/17/10
I was able to follow the story easily. Having two teenage boys myself, it is a challenge to talk to them and keep up with their language. Cool story lol.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/17/10
I so enjoyed this I have had at least one teen in my house for the last 13 years and we have another 4 years left with our youngest. At times it does feel like we are speaking a foreign language! Great job.
Cheryl Harrison12/22/10
They not only speak a different language, they are a culture unto their own!

Excellent writing here. Blessings.