A rebellious teenager lashes out at his mother and tells her to leave him alone. When she disappears, he learns a life lesson about love, tolerance, and the power of forgiveness.
Sean hated his mom, at least that is what he told her. At least two or three times a week, Lainie would see her son’s face contort with rage and hear him scream: “I HATE YOU!”
Sometimes, when he was very angry, he’d add: “I wish you’d disappear! I never want to see you again!” Lainie would keep her composture and never allow him to see how much he hurt her.
It wasn’t easy being the mother of a teenage boy, and it was even harder being a single mom. Lainie’s husband had decided he didn’t want to be a husband and father after all and left when Sean was three. He never called or visited his son, and Sean couldn’t even remember him, but he was sure he would have been a better parent than Lainie. He told her so often.
Lanie couldn’t understand it. Just a year before, Sean had been a sweet, considerate boy. Because she was a single mom, Lainie and Sean had become very close, and up until he turned thirteen, he told everyone his mom was his best friend.
Friends don’t hurt and humiliate each other.
Now, he lashed out at her, screamed, and scorned her. Sean blamed Lainie for everything that was wrong in his life, up to and including his academic failings and his unpopularity.
“Why can’t you buy me NORMAL clothes? I look like a freak!” he screamed, leaving Lainie open-mouthed. A month ago, she’d gone to the mall with him and spent more than she could afford to refurbish his wardrobe.
Every single item had been picked by Sean, to his taste, according to some mysterious teen sliding scale of what was and wasn’t cool. Lainie didn’t like some of the items, but she indulged him. Now he was screaming at her because he hated those same clothes…
Things got worse when Sean came home that night. He walked in, slammed the door behind him, and flung his backpack onto the couch. “Hello, son,” Lainie said. “Dinner is almost ready.”
“I’m not hungry,” Sean said harshly. “You can eat it yourself.”
“I don’t appreciate your rudeness, Sean,” Lainie said calmly. “This is my house, and I expect respect.”
“Oh yeah?” Sean sneered. “You’ll be disappointed then.”
“I see,” Lainie said, keeping her cool. “In that case, go up and do your homework. I’m going to eat.”
“I’m going out,” Sean stated boldly. “There’s a party at Mike’s…”
“No,” Lainie said. “Mike is seventeen, and I don’t like the boys he hangs out with, Sean. I don’t like the things I hear about those parties…Besides, it’s a school night.”
“Mike is the coolest guy at school, and he INVITED me!” screamed Sean. “I’m going and I don’t care WHAT you say!”
“I’m your mother,” she said. “And I say you are not going. Those boys drink and smoke, and who knows what else. They are not your friends, Sean, and you may think so now, but they are not cool.”
“I hate you!” Sean screamed. “You just want to ruin my life. I wish you’d disappear! I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!” With that, Sean stormed off to his bedroom and locked himself in.
A few hours later, he felt hungry so he went downstairs. The house was eerily silent and dark. Where was his mother? He went to the kitchen and ate the lasagna he found in the oven.
After he’d eaten, he knocked on his mother’s bedroom door, but there was no reply. He opened the door and saw that there was no one there. His mom was gone, but there was a note on her dresser.
He picked it up, unfolded it, and read: “You will never see me again. Feel free to do whatever you want.”
Seriously? Sean couldn’t believe his eyes. His mom had really left? He could do what he wanted, throw parties, skip school… He could be the coolest kid in school, living alone at thirteen!
The first thing he wanted to do, of course, was to go to Mike’s party. When he got there, he was disappointed to find Mike and half a dozen of his buddies hanging out in the front yard.
“Hi guys,” Sean said. “What’s happening?”
Mike shrugged. “My mom and dad canceled their trip to Vail, which means there is no party, guys!” He looked angry, disappointed, and embarrassed, and Sean immediately realized he could be the hero.
“You can have the party at my place,” he said. “My mom’s gone…”
“Hey!” cried Mike, grinning and looking at Sean with new respect. “You’re way cool, dude!”
Mike got on his phone and told everyone to come to Sean’s house and bring beers. When Sean heard that, he felt a twinge of unease. He remembered what his mom had said about Mike and his friends, but he couldn’t back out now.
Three hours later, Sean was wishing Mike and his friends would disappear. His house was full of people he’d never seen before, running around drinking and screaming to be heard over the loud music.
Then he saw Mike take his girlfriend upstairs into his mom’s room! Sean raced up the stairs. “Hum, hey Mike, that’s my mom’s room, man, off-limits!”
Mike turned around. He did not look pleased. His girlfriend was already sprawled on Lainie’s bed, with her shoes on the coverlet. “Don’t be a dork, Sean,” Mike said. “Chill out!”
Sean cringed, but he said bravely: “I mean it. It’s my mom’s room. It’s off-limits…”
That was when Mike’s girlfriend gave a shriek. “I know why he doesn’t want us here, Mike,” she cried, plucking a photo frame from Lainie’s bedside table and waving it.
The photo was one of Lainie’s favorites and showed the seven-year-old Sean sweetly cuddling his favorite toy, a battered Teddy Bear called Sammy.
Sean snatched the frame from the laughing girl’s hands, but not before she snapped a photo of it with her phone. “Get out!” Sean screamed. “All of you, get out!”
“You’re finished, man,” Mike said. He pointed a finger at Sean and made a popping noise. “POW! Done!”
The next day, Sean woke up to a wrecked house and no breakfast. Of his mom, there was no sign. He scraped together a sandwich for his lunch, and off he went to school.
When he arrived, he saw that the kids were looking at him and laughing. One or two of them even pointed him out with disdainful sneers. What was going on?
When he walked into the central corridor, he saw that it was practically wallpapered with prints of the photo from his mom’s bedroom. The whole school was laughing. He was a joke.
He remembered his mom saying, “They are not your friends.” She was right. Friends don’t hurt and humiliate each other. Mike and his friends were bullies and brutes.
Sean felt tears burn his eyes. “I screamed at my mom because of these guys,” he said to himself. “I hurt her. I told her I hated her… And she’s my only true friend. She’s the one who is always there for me.”
Sean went home and looked around the dirty, wrecked house. “I miss you, mom! Please come home!” he whispered. Then he started putting everything to right.
By the time he was finished cleaning the house, Sean was very worried. His mom had been gone for nearly 24 hours. Where could she be?
He decided to go next door and ask the neighbors if they had heard from her. “No, Sean,” the next-door neighbor said. “I haven’t seen Lainie. Try Mrs. Carmel. I know they are good friends.”
But Mrs. Carmel, who lived two doors down, hadn’t seen her either. She suggested he visit yet another friend two streets over. By then, Sean was nearly in tears.
He ran up to the front door and rang the doorbell. When his mom’s friend opened the door, he blurted out, “Please, please, I need my mom!”
“Goodness!” his mom’s friend said. “Such a big, brave boy needs his mom? You surprise me!”
“I told her to go, that I never wanted to see her again,” Sean cried. “But I do! I miss her. She was right about those guys, she was right about everything. I wish she’d come back so I could tell her so!”
That was when Sean’s mom stepped out from behind the door.
Sean forgot all about being cool. He just ran to Lainie and wrapped his arms around her. “I’m sorry, mom, I’m so sorry…Please, please come home. I need you!”
“It’s okay, son,” Lainie said gently, hugging Sean and dropping a kiss on his forehead. “You know, I’ll always love you, no matter what, but you needed to know what it was like to make your own mistakes…”
Of course, Sean and Lainie still had falling-outs like every mom and teen in the world, but never again did he tell her he hated her. And he never ever asked her to disappear!
What can we learn from this story?
- A mother will do anything for her child. Lainie knew that Sean had to learn a hard lesson, so she disappeared. He quickly realized that being free to do what he wanted wasn’t as cool as he imagined.
- Friends don’t hurt and humiliate each other. Sean learned that Mike and his friends were not his friends. They were thugs and bullies who were using him.