3 Years After Parents' Divorce, Son Looks Back
Sarah Avant and her 12-year-old son, Anand Hernandez, rarely get a lot of one-on-one time. Anand has two younger siblings, and his parents are divorced.
So it was a big deal when they decided to spend a whole week together — just the two of them. During that time, they visited StoryCorps in Washington state to record an interview together.
"How do you think you are different because your dad and I got divorced?" Sarah asks her son.
"Well, I'm hoping to recover from the time of just stress," Anand says. "There was a lot of yelling around the house between you and dad."
Anand's parents divorced when he was 9. He remembers feeling torn, and worrying that it might seem like he was choosing a favorite parent. Now, Anand alternates weeks living with mom and dad.
"And how do you think that will affect you in the long run?" his mom asks.
"I don't know. I mean, I don't see a life as a criminal," he lightheartedly replies.
Still, Anand admits that the divorce made it difficult for him to do well in school. Third and fourth grade were tough, he says. Fifth grade was a lot better. And he hopes the upcoming sixth grade will be the "diamond year."
"I'm not trying to say, 'Oh, it's all your guys' fault,' " he tells his mom, referring to his performance in school. "But I definitely think that was a lot of the influence."
And on the question of his mother possibly remarrying someday?
"I want you to get married," he tells Sarah, before joking, "you know, because you're not getting any younger."
"Thanks," his mom says.
But it could be "weird," Anand says. And it might not make his life any easier.
"I mean, no offense, but it's already hard enough dealing with you," he says.
Anand says that he already feels pressure from his mom, and he worries that adding a stepdad would mean living up to two peoples' standards.
"Well, I don't want you to always feel like you have to make me happy," Sarah tells him.
Anand says that in an ideal world, his parents would remarry each other. But if that doesn't happen — and he concedes it isn't likely — he just wants his mom to be happy.
"If you had one thing that you want me to remember forever, what would it be?" Sarah asks.
"After spending the week with you, and just you — probably this week," her son replies. "It would be really awesome if you could remember that."
"Well, I've had a nice time with you this week," Sarah answers. "And it's been nice to be reminded that you are such a great kid."
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Time now for Storycorps, the project traveling the country, recording your stories. Today, we hear from Sarah Avant and her 12-year-old son, Anand Hernandez. They don't often get one-on-one time because Anand has younger siblings. But when he and his mom got to spend a special week alone together, they decided to record an interview at Storycorps. Here, they talk about Sarah's divorce from Anand's dad in 2009.
SARAH AVANT: How do you think you are different because your dad and I got divorced?
ANAND HERNANDEZ: Well, I'm hoping to recover from the time of just stress. There was a lot of yelling around the house, between you and dad. And I'm not happy that you guys are divorced but, I mean, I guess there's kind of a convenience there 'cause I remember feeling really - like, oh, I don't want to make somebody look like a favorite. You know, I spend one week with dad, one week with you.
AVANT: And how do you think that will affect you, in the long run?
ANAND: I don't know. I mean, I don't see a life as a criminal. I mean, I just don't want to be one. I guess, after you guys got divorced, you know, it was hard, but it was just a lot better. Fifth grade was a lot better this year, too. So I'm hoping sixth grade - to be the diamond year, and to be perfect.
AVANT: So do think the hard time that you had in school, had a lot to do with what the environment was like at home - that we fought a lot?
ANAND: Yeah. I mean, I'm not trying to say, oh, it's all your guys' fault. But I definitely think that was a lot of the influence.
AVANT: And so what do you think it would be like to be in a family, if I got married again?
ANAND: I want you to get married, you know, because you're not getting any younger.
AVANT: Thanks. (LAUGHTER)
ANAND: Well, I'm just saying. But then again, I don't know. It would be kind of weird. I mean, no offense, but it's already hard enough dealing with you. So having a stepdad to worry about, that would be harder.
AVANT: What do you mean when you say, "worry about"?
ANAND: Well, I mean, I have to worry about - I'm meeting up to your standards.
AVANT: Well, but I don't want you to always feel like you have to make me happy.
AVANT: So if I were to remarry, what do you think the ideal situation would be like, for you?
ANAND: Well, I know this wouldn't happen, but you getting remarried to dad. But it if it were to be somebody else than dad, the ideal situation - you being happy.
AVANT: If you had one thing that you want me to remember forever, what would it be?
ANAND: After spending the week with you, and just you, probably this week. It would be really awesome, if you could remember that.
AVANT: Well, I've had a nice time with you this week. And it's been nice to be reminded that you are such a great kid.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: That's Sarah Avant, with her son Anand Hernandez; in Tri-Cities, Washington. This interview will be archived with all the others at the Library of Congress. The podcast is at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.