She was having a shit week in paradise. Her kids were headed back to live in Marin with their father for the upcoming semester and her birth grandparents (a term adopted people use), had just died within five days of each other. They had been married for 70 years.
She was, in other words, being drawn and quartered.
To say her abandonment issues were triggered would be a massive understatement.
Conditions were ostensibly perfect. Great teachers, nice peers, a dog, a car, a 4000-square-foot home three blocks from the beach where the Obama’s spend Xmas (for Chrissake), one mile from a stellar, quaint—but not so quaint that it didn’t have a Whole Foods and a Core Power Yoga—downtown. Turns out the small IB high school didn’t “stick.”
The kids were “emotionally immature,” the 16-year-old declared, two days after school started, which here meant, they didn’t party like the kids in Marin. While her daughters didn’t exactly self-sabotage, they did become (affectionately) known as Dark and Stormy. As in, they reacted like teens. Normal teens. Mostly, they missed their friends, plain and simple. And neither the mother nor the idyllic environs could trump the visceral pull of their hometown peers. She knew and accepted that.
The mother’s attempts to convince them, however, that it was okay to choose hard over easy, challenging over comfy, new over familiar, resilience over caving, were undermined by the middle daughter’s indomitable will (a trait that would undoubtedly serve her well in life) and the father’s back channeling with the (under-qualified, way-out-of-her-depth, 28-year-old) school counselor and the (overpaid) Marin therapist. While the father had initially been in favor of the girls staying in Hawaii for the year, he didn’t love paying child support and was keenly aware that having the girls return to Marin mid-stream would, in fact, devastate the mother. She deserved it. The preferred narrative, as heralded by said father—who traveled weekly for work and monthly for fun and … oh, sold cannabis and vaping products for a living—was that the high-schoolers would be “back where they belong.”
She prayed this would be the case. If it wasn’t, there would be hell to pay. And it would be on them.