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A TIme When It All Went Wrong by Colin Kelly

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Here's a longish quote from Chapter 38 of A Time When It All Went Wrong that shows why Tony needs to listen to his sort-of-identical-cousin Todd:


Before I turned around and headed upstairs I saw Mom’s expression. It make me think she would have preferred that I stuck around so she could keep harping on my moving to Davis after this semester. That really pissed me off.

When Todd and I got upstairs he followed me into my room. I turned around and looked at him. He stood with his fists on his hips, glaring at me.

“Don’t say it,” I said.

He grinned. “You’re acting like a brat again.”

“Aaaak! I said don’t say it!”

“I have to say it because somebody has to say it. There’s better ways to get your mom off your back than to get into a heated battle that you’re more likely to lose than win. And in front of my folks, too.”

“So what should I do? I already said I’d waste my Christmas vacation packing and moving and unpacking my stuff and probably lots of other stuff like from the kitchen and the laundry room and the garage. I already said I’d go on that stupid visit to see a counselor at Davis High. Then she’s gotta pull the ‘you’ve gotta move before your school year is over’ thing again. She just can’t let it go!”

“You sound pissed. Just like you sounded pissed when you talked to her. She didn’t say anything like you’ve gotta move. She said that you might want to move. That’s a huge difference. You could have said something like, ‘I need to finish this school year here because they don’t offer the classes I need to take next semester.’ Then your folks wouldn’t have been pissed off at you the way they are now. You’re just making it harder on yourself.”

“I don’t know if they don’t offer the classes I need to take next semester.”

“What difference does that make? None, IMO. You’ll be talking to that counselor at Davis High and find out anyway. If you’d said that then you would’ve left it without being all petulant and having your mom and dad both pissed at you.”

“Petulant? I’m not being petulant.”

“Yes, you are. And you know you are.”

“Maybe I’m being a brat, but I’m not being petulant. Hell, I don’t even know what ‘petulant’ means.”

“When I read it in a story I didn’t know what it meant either, so I looked it up. It means you’re easily irritated or annoyed.”

“That is what I am, I am being easily irritated and annoyed when Mom keeps bringing up my moving to Davis before the end of the school year. That sounds the same as being a brat to me.”

“No, being a brat means you’re acting like a little child who wants everything his way. Of course, you’re also acting like a brat. A petulant brat.” Todd grinned.

This sounds like what James wrote about the focus of my story. Thanks, James.

Tony sounds like a lot of teens who get into a battle with their folks over smaller or bigger issues than Tony's. He needs to listen to Todd. Will he? Read all of chapter 38 to find out. :rolleyes:

Colin :icon_geek:

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Here's a longish quote from Chapter 38 of A Time When It All Went Wrong that shows why Tony needs to listen to his sort-of-identical-cousin Todd:

This sounds like what James wrote about the focus of my story. Thanks, James.

Tony sounds like a lot of teens who get into a battle with their folks over smaller or bigger issues than Tony's. He needs to listen to Todd. Will he? Read all of chapter 38 to find out. :rolleyes:

Colin :icon_geek:

Well, OK, but someone needs to have that same talk with the parents. All of a sudden they seem to have zero interest in his life. They're not coming to his football games. We never heard them congratulate him on being a class officer. They seem to be virtually incommunicado, and it's inexplicable. They have not moved away (yet). They just seem to have abandoned Tony. I consider their actions pathological.

R

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I really don't blame Tony.

I went through exactly the same pointless moving at about the same age.

My folks told me when they had me in the car on a Sunday afternoon, drove way the hell out in the sticks and said, that's the new house.

No discussion, no debate. It was a done deal that put me a thirty minutes drive away from the old neighborhood.

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Well, OK, but someone needs to have that same talk with the parents. All of a sudden they seem to have zero interest in his life. They're not coming to his football games. We never heard them congratulate him on being a class officer. They seem to be virtually incommunicado, and it's inexplicable. They have not moved away (yet). They just seem to have abandoned Tony. I consider their actions pathological.

R

His dad and his uncle went to one of his games. Because his dad and mom have moved into an apartment in Davis it's too far to go to his games, and it's further complicated because the games start at 3:30 in the afternoon. The boys' parents took them out for a congratulatory steak dinner when they won the election.

One of the problems that Tony's folks have is they don't know how to communicate with him. He's 13 (almost 14) and they are used to telling him what to do and they think what they do will be fine with him. It isn't. Tony doesn't know how to communicate with his parents, either. He wants them to listen to him but gets angry when they don't so he responds the way Todd says makes Tony act like a brat. His aunt and uncle are the adults who can see what's happening to Tony. This is why they decided to make the offer for him to live with them until the end of the school year. Todd can see it too, and he tries to help in his own way.

Colin :icon_geek:

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I notice there has been a substantial amount of silent rewriting of earlier chapters to clean up many of the anomalies I have noted. I think the changes improve the overall logic of the story. But I still have trouble with the overall behavior of Tony's parents.

R

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I notice there has been a substantial amount of silent rewriting of earlier chapters to clean up many of the anomalies I have noted. I think the changes improve the overall logic of the story. But I still have trouble with the overall behavior of Tony's parents.

R

Maybe you should write your own story... and put it out for criticism!

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I thought that the parents had gone to set up their new lives and house, and that was all I needed as the story was about Tony's situation and environment in his school and with his "twin." The parents were busy.

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What I have admired most about Colin's stories is that they are focussed around important transitions affecting many young teens. He takes great pains to explain and dispel the mystery surrounding such monoliths as the juvenile justice system, hospitalization, foster parenting, and other significant institutions of the adult world that may seem overwhelming to most teens caught up in the machinery of such changes. Even the challenge of changing schools, especially in mid-year, can be a massive undertaking, as we have learned in his current story. "A Time When It All Went Wrong" goes well beyond the simplistic plotline of 'woe is me, I'm forced to leave all my friends behind' that we tend to encounter so often in similar tales.

Colin, not so long ago a teen himself, clearly does extensive research for each of his stories. Consequently he is able to write with confidence about this murky condition we call adolescence, and his well-wrought stories amount to a how-to handbook for many teens beset by unexpected challenges when their world is made suddenly out of control by similar circumstances.

Even this old geezer learns something new every time he reads one of Colin's offerings.

James Merkin

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His dad and his uncle went to one of his games. Because his dad and mom have moved into an apartment in Davis it's too far to go to his games, and it's further complicated because the games start at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Colin :icon_geek:

As I recall, his mom (who was working the midnight to eight shift) stated her intention to attend Tony's game, but evidently never did. We don't see the parents congratulating him on his games, or the favorable newspaper write up. And there is no mention in the story of the parents taking an apartment in Davis.

It just seems to me that the parents have become more self-absorbed even as they see Tony's distress. His mom, in particular, seems to have turned into a completely different person from the easy-going and helpful soul of the early part of the story, who was happy to assist the boys in learning the bones of the body. There is no apparent reason for this change. I would think there would be tremendous pressure on the overall marriage at this point.

R

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Good intentions are a dime a dozen. Most kids have had their parents fail to do something that they'd promised. When push comes to shove, adults will usually do what they want and not what their kids want.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Mrs. Harrington is obviously a very intelligent woman who knows what is best for Tony. Does his mother agree? Here's a spoiler:

Yes, she does.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Michael Hogan sent me this link. It pictures a family with relationships similar to those of Tony and Todd's families: https://www.facebook.com/ItsDanielAmos/photos/a.153162191547484.1073741826.148074205389616/1290694217794270/?type=1

Colin :icon_geek:

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Still more congratulations to Tony and the team. Yet there seems no hint that his parents have grasped what they're yanking him out of.

Good to see you writing and posting again after some rough times.

R

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I'm back.

Chapter 42 has been posted and it's linked on AD today.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Mom's a doc and they very often suffer from "tunnel vision".

This often causes doctor's to pay a heavy price in their personal lives.

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If Tony won the Nobel Prize I wonder if his parents would bother to notice.

I hate to keep harping on this, but what's the point of having a kid if you're not going to pay any serious attention to that kid's accomplishments? It's not like Tony has brothers and sisters who are competing for attention. Yet as far as Tony's parents are concerned he might as well be a potted plant. I'm just amazed that he isn't more bothered by the lack of attention.

R

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His mother was there, at the end. She told him to get off his butt and go talk to Scott.

He and his father were friendly but his father seemed somewhat remote so Tony related to him the same way. His father's move to the teaching position at UC Davis didn't help; the distance was remote and so their relationship continued to be remote. His father was supportive when Tony announced to his parents that he was going to try out for the freshman football team. He was supportive when Tony announced he was gay. Tony's dad took him hiking on Mt. Diablo when he was young.

This child-parent relationship isn't that different than what I, as a middle school and high school student, recognized about the relationships most of my friends had with their parents. A few were very close, like my friends Gordon and Heather. It seemed that Gordon's dad was willing to provide transportation for Gordon and his friends every time there was some event or recreation where we wanted to go – whether it was to take us to our high school football and basketball away games or to go to the beach and the Beach Boardwalk amusement park at Santa Cruz – a two and a half hour drive each way. And he wasn't just transportation. He had all of us engaged in conversations with him (between listening to pop and rock songs on the Santa Cruz trips) and I could tell he was interested in hearing what we would say. He'd go to the games and was as interested in them and the outcome as we were. When we went to Santa Cruz he'd have a swimsuit and would go in the water just like we would. He'd ride the roller coaster and other rides at the Beach Boardwalk along with us. Their mom always had fun joking with us when we were at their house. She'd bring up things that were happening in our area and the country and ask us what we thought about them. For example, a local issue like what did we think about the Habit hamburger place that opened in town, and is fast food bad for us or not, and serious national issues like the Red Lake school shootings that killed ten people including students, and what did we think about gun control.

My parents and Doug's parents were the same way, constantly having conversations with us and our friends when they were visiting at our homes. And our friends all seemed to like to participate in those conversations. They liked talking with adults who were actually interested in their opinions.

I also remember those were the exceptions since most of my friends seemed remote from their parents. That's not to say the parents weren't friendly, because they were. The difference was how engaged they seemed to be with what their kids were doing – it was okay as long as they got good grades and didn't get in trouble. When we were at a friend's house we'd almost never have conversations with the parents about anything other than the typical, "How's school?" – "Fine," question and answer. Most of my friends seemed to be in a hurry to get us outside or to their bedroom, anything that was somewhere away from their parents. It always made me wonder what their relationships were like when we weren't there, but of course I never asked – that would have been way too personal and a good way to lose a friend.

So Tony's relationship with his folks is partially based on my observations when I was a teen. Think about when Tony's mom drove them to Davis to meet with the counselor at Davis High. Did they talk much? No. Tony studied his World Geography text on his Kindle. Even though Tony's dad took him hiking when he was six years old, in the story when Tony talks about hiking it's with his friends, not his dad.

Josh and Scott's relationships with their folks seem much closer than Tony and his folks. It's just little things, like Scott and Mr. Sanderson's interactions when they visited Tony and Todd and their folks to talk about why Tony and Todd look alike, and when the three families went out to dinner.

If you think about Tony's folk's jobs, they were intense. When we first meet Tony his dad is an advanced math instructor at a community college. Then he becomes a professor at the University of California at Davis, which is a one hour and twenty minute drive from where they live, so he rented an apartment near the campus. Tony's mom is a doctor in the emergency department in a hospital and is on-call at any time. She finally quits her job and moves to the Davis apartment so they could look for a house there. They commute home on weekends if they aren't scheduled to look at houses.

Tony is a very resilient kid. He has to go to a high school different than that where his friends went. He meets his doppelganger/twin/cousin. He makes friends. He handles a bully. He tries out for the freshman football team even though he's never played football and makes the team. He meets a kid and they become boyfriends. He finds out his folks have decided they're going to move to Davis and he'll be separated from his boyfriend and his friends. Okay, he doesn't handle the idea of moving very well at first and he (as Todd tells him) he becomes a petulant brat about it. He has to move in with Todd and his aunt and uncle for the rest of the school year. And through all this he still shows that he loves his folks.

Anyway, there are no reasons for my not making Tony's folks any different than the way I made them in the story. They aren't bad parents; they aren't perfect parents; they are just not the touchy-feely highly-involved parents some other kids have. They are normal parents. Will things between Tony and his parents be any different when they move back together in Davis? Maybe, maybe not. It is an interesting question to think about.

Colin :icon_geek:

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