Six days a week, Benton County, Ark., is a quiet, reserved community. Then comes Friday. It's good old-fashioned small-town basketball. There, one can encounter 17-year-old Jordan, a junior guard who can hit a three-point shot like nobody's business.
Unfortunately, when it comes to algebra, he can barely make a lay-up. As Josh puts it, "It goes in one ear and out the other."
At this point, he's more into the social aspects of high school. His school is the biggest in Arkansas, but it's not big enough as far as he's concerned. His whole world is not big enough.
"There really isn't anything exciting to do around here," he says. "When you get bored, you really are bored."
Josh has what he calls his "chilling spot." He goes there by himself or with friends just to get out of the house. Often, it's to escape his mother who, he says, keeps way too tight a rein on him: "She's constantly worried. I mean, I don't get in enough trouble for her to be worried about me," he says.
Mom counters, "I guess that's what moms do."
That is Josh's story. Like a lot of kids his age, right now he's in a power struggle that could rival anything in Washington, a fight over that forever fuzzy line between childhood and adulthood.
Josh was a late surprise for Mom, who is now 58. Lois got divorced about 10 years ago, so she has had to raise Josh pretty much on her own.
"He's been the joy of my life, even though he was a surprise," she says. "I would have been by myself a long time without him, so he's kept me going."
She knows there comes a time when all you can do is take a seat on the sidelines, but Mom isn't willing to sit it out just yet. She will no doubt continue to frustrate her son by telling him what to do.
Some day he may understand the method to the madness of raising teen-agers.
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