This time I’m introducing a character from a new book I’m working on—Lindsay. She is 15 and lives in the Midwest with her mom, Abbey.
On weekends my mom and I always do some kind of bonding activity—a walk in the park, a show at the community theater, or even just a trip to the farmer’s market then cooking dinner together. But no texting, no phone calls the whole time. Every once in a while we do something big, and I’m allowed to invite a friend or two—but my mom has made it clear that she cannot be ditched and that she gets to participate in everything we do.
So a while back we rented a boat and went out on Lake Erie. I don’t know where my mom learned to drive a boat, but she’s pretty good at it. She’d gone ahead and called Reagan and Kim’s parents to invite them. She didn’t even ask me who I wanted to bring. We had all once been best friends, but now—well, you’ll see.
Kim arrived first, and her attention seemed more focused on her phone than her mom, who was telling her to be sure to wear a life jacket and take her Dramamine. Reagan walked over. She had a camera and a notebook—not for homework, for her own personal research. I think she wanted to keep track of all the pollution we saw. Lake Erie isn’t the cleanest of places, and she was interested in how all that skuzz affected the animals. She loves animals—always has. I hoped we’d see a two-headed fish.
As soon as we got in my mom’s car she asked for everyone’s cell phones. Reagan hadn’t brought hers, but Kim gave me a look of panic. I told her it was the rule. Even though she finally held it out, my mom still had to pry it from her hand.
So it was a long two-hour drive to the lake. My mom talked some, and Reagan, who was up front, told her some about her project of building safe nesting boxes for some rare area bird, but Reagan wasn’t a big talker, and Kim was too pissed about being cut off to give much more than one-word answers.
Then we listened to the radio, but my mom had it on the oldies station she liked, which I don’t get because she wasn’t even born yet when some of those songs came out. She just turned 40, and I know that sounds old, but theses songs were even older.
I was pretty depressed by the time we got to the lake. I’d kind of been hoping to have a good time so maybe we could hang out like we used to again. I still spent time with Reagan and Kim, but separately. Reagan and Kim never even crossed paths anymore unless forced.
We all got in our swimsuits and did the sunscreen thing. My mom didn’t make us wear life jackets and promised to tell Kim’s mom that we all had. That actually helped. I think my mom moved up a level in Kim’s eyes. My mom seemed able to win anyone over. If all my friends voted, I’m pretty sure they’d pick her as the favorite mom.
I can’t say Reagan or Kim rekindled a friendship, but we all had fun, and I even caught them talking to each other without being prodded. They didn’t hate each other; they were just so different now.
I thought by the time we got back in the car to head home that I might be able to convince them to hang out with me together sometime without my mom arranging it, but then Kim begged for her phone back, and my mom gave in, and that’s all we heard from Kim except tapping keys for the rest of the night, and Reagan ended up falling asleep. But it could have been worse. We all made it back, after all.