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There Are Some Nice Guys

There Are Some Nice Guys

Michael emerged from his room after what seemed like hours to Marie- all 6 feet, 3 inches, 220 pounds of him. He sauntered into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator.

“Something wrong?” Marie asked trying to be careful. She was on new territory now that her nineteen-year-old son was living at home and attending community college. No longer a high school student, she couldn’t tell him what to do in the same ways as before.

“Nothing’s wrong, but there’s never anything to eat around here,” Michael said as he pulled out some leftover chicken from the refrigerator.

“You’ve been in your bedroom for hours,” Marie said.

Michael put the chicken in the microwave. “Just cuz I’m in my room doesn’t mean there’s something’s wrong. I’m not a kid…. you don’t need to track what I’m doing all the time.”

Marie had been sitting at the kitchen table going over her notes from a class she was teaching. Her work had become a good distraction from her worries about Michael. Often at night she’d lie in bed flooded with stories she’d heard about the increase suicide rate for teens and young adults. She already knew two young people who had taken their lives during the past several months of Covid isolation.

“You’re worrying too much,” her husband would tell her. “Michael’s fine. He’s got a job and is going to school.”

But her mom’s group would remind her to pay attention for signs of depression like kids staying in their bedrooms for long periods of time.

Michael took his plate from the microwave and started to head out of the kitchen.

“Hey, your cousin’s wedding announcement just arrived in the mail,” Marie said searching for some reason to keep Michael out of his room a little longer. “Want to sit down a minute and see the photos the family sent?”

Michael paused. “Okay, but no lectures about staying in my room.” He sat down at the table.

Marie nodded, “No lectures.”

“He’s a good guy,” Michael said about his cousin. “At least he found a woman who likes nice guys.”

“What do you mean?” Marie looked over at her son who avoided eye contact.

“Seems like the girls I meet only like the tough guys…” Michael hesitated, “but I did just meet this girl the other day who told me she broke up with her ex because he was mean.” His face beamed.

“Is she the one you went on a hike with recently?” Marie asked trying not to pry. Michael hadn’t dated much in high school.

Michael nodded. “She told me I was nice, and no guy had ever asked her questions the way I did….”

“Like what?” Marie couldn’t help but ask.

Michael continued eating for a few minutes. “I asked her if I could kiss her.”

Marie smiled and refrained from saying, you’re so nice.

“She went back to her mean ex…. why do girls do this, Mom?”

Michael’s face clouded up with the sad expression Marie had been noticing for days.

“Oh Honey, I don’t know why she did that. Most young women at the school where I teach would give anything to find a nice guy.”

Marie realized then that Michael was sad but probably okay and just needed to talk. Relieved, she was grateful he’d be at home for a while longer even if he hung out in his room a lot.

Parenting: September-Suicide Prevention Month

-Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 (National Institute of Health)

-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline- 800 273-TALK (8255)

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