His door was shut, as usual. It was quiet, which wasn't unusual. If he was on the computer, she could hear it—but if he was listening to music, he'd have his earbuds in, and she couldn't. She wasn't sure which one made her feel better because frankly both frightened her a little. It had started as an uneasy feeling about three months earlier. Jake just wasn't acting normal—nothing Tanya could put her finger on, but things just didn't seem right. She'd been putting off really thinking about her worries since then, telling herself over and over again he was entering adolescence and that's just the way it was.
Walking past his room, down the hall to her own, Tanya sloughed off her shoes and dropped her purse on the dresser. It had been a long day at work, and she was glad to be home. She was looking forward to a quiet dinner and some time to relax. Julie was over at a friend's house and would be home in about 30 minutes, just long enough for Tanya to put something together and on the table. It had been a while since she'd made spaghetti. It was Jake's favorite; at least it used to be. She didn't know anymore; it seemed like so many things she thought she knew about him were changing.
She'd heard countless parents moan and joke, sometimes simultaneously, about losing their kids through these teen years. Stories of happy, contented children transforming into surly strangers, eventually emerging from emotional hibernation in their early twenties. Tanya didn't want to wait that long. She could feel Jake slipping into that pattern and had no idea what to do. Was it just a phase? Would he snap out of it? How quiet was too quiet? What did he do in his room for hours at a time? Why would he barely even talk to her anymore?1