The Great Debaters This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 29, 2013
Ever since I was little, I've listened to my parents fight. Maybe fight isn't the right word – more like debate over dinner about the latest political issue or new technology. When I was little, it worried me. I would sit between them with wide eyes as they battled over their opinions. I constantly needed them to reassure me that they loved each other and were not going to get divorced. It's just that my parents are opinionated people who frequently don't share the same opinion.
They were both very informed about world events, which made our dinner conversations strange at times. There I would be, eight years old, eating my chicken tenders, as my parents argued over presidential candidates. And it wasn't just at dinner. I heard their voices downstairs discussing what was happening in the world. Sometimes they would get louder or softer as they debated a point. When I had a bad dream or was scared of monsters in my closet, I would sit at the top of the stairs and let their voices soothe me. Over time, their disagreements began to comforted me. I heard their arguing voices during car rides, while watching television, doing chores, homework, or relaxing in our living room. Anything could set it off.
For example, take this recent argument. While driving in the car, my brother asked my mom her opinion on fracking for an English paper he was writing. Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is a relatively new method of extracting oil from the ground, and it is very controversial. My mom is completely against it.
“It's causing environmental problems. We're pumping all those chemicals near the groundwater, which is becoming a huge commodity,” she replied. Later that day, as I cooked asparagus in the kitchen, my brother asked my dad the same question.
“It's great,” he said. “We're getting so much more oil than we could before, and now we don't have to buy it from the Middle East.”
“But what about the chemicals polluting our water?” my mom asked frostily.
“What chemicals? There haven't been any chemicals so far, and lots of planning has gone into this.”
“Tell that to Florida's Gulf Coast. There were some pretty big assurances about that too.”
“Where's the sea salt?” I intervened.
“This is different,” Dad said.
“Where's the sea salt?” I asked again.
“Fracking is carefully organized and planned. And it's great because we can get our own oil here at home.” I got in my dad's face and grabbed his shoulders.
“Where. Is. The. Sea. Salt?” I asked.
“What? Oh, it's in that cabinet,” he finally answered. “As I was saying ….”
My poor brother looked back and forth between our parents, trying to figure out which side he wanted to take. They continued this discussion as my mom made dinner and my dad helped my brother write his paper. As they sparred, it dawned on me how funny this was – and normal too. Cooking dinner while arguing. A perfect picture of domestic tranquility, with a little spice thrown in that's all our own.
During all those nights as I listened to them talk, and the days when their voices would grow loud, the power of argument began to run through my blood too. When we had guests over one time, I spent the entire dinner locked in a debate over whether handkerchiefs are sanitary after I saw a guest pull one out of his pocket. My brother and I can argue for hours over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, until my mom or dad let out a sigh of frustration and settle it themselves.
“Honestly, where did you learn to fight like this?” my mom will say.
Where, oh where indeed.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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lovebass said...
May 27, 2013 at 5:19 pm
That's so good! Why did u decide to write about this? ( just curious)
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