Chapter 31: In Which Being a Teen Dad is Not Fun

Just like that, John Tyler was alone. As he stared at the city slipping past the windows of the subway train, he held his tiny infant daughter close, trying not to think about the way Wendy had just run away. Just left him and the baby – like they meant nothing more to her than a pair of boots she’d outgrown. He took deep breaths, fighting back tears that threatened to spill over and soak his daughter’s fuzzy pink blanket.

When he arrived home, he followed the sound of music and laughter to the backyard, where he found his mother strumming the guitar and his father singing along in his off-key voice. The moment they spotted John Tyler and the baby, however, the music stopped at once. After a long, stunned silence, John Tyler spoke. “Mom, Dad, this is…your granddaughter.”  Suburbs (12)

“Where is Wendy?” asked his father, leaning in to see the baby, who was beginning to stir.

“What will you name her?” asked his mother, scooping the tiny pink bundle into her arms.

John Tyler took a ragged breath. “Wendy’s…she’s gone,” he said in a near-whisper. “She didn’t want…” He almost said us. Instead, he said, “I think I’ll name her Arielle.” As though on-cue, Arielle’s eyes flickered open – two tiny pools of pale blue.

During the first few weeks, Ari and Marisol and even Rose pitched in to help John Tyler with raising a newborn. Still, John Tyler had never felt so overworked and worn-out in his life. During the days, he dragged himself to school while his mother stayed with the baby. And during the nights, he left his warm bed again and again to hold Arielle and give her a bottle.

Suburbs (14)

Being a teen dad was really hard work.

It was not fun. He loved Arielle, from her wiggly fingers that clutched his long hair to her sweet, milky fragrance. He would do anything for her, he knew. But raising a newborn was not fun. He was exhausted all the time, could barely focus on homework, and when he did have free time, all he could do was sleep. He had not envisioned this – doing it all alone. Wendy was supposed to be there by his side. They were supposed to be a family. When Arielle was asleep in her crib, Wendy was supposed to be there, laughing with him, kissing him.

Suburbs (13)

But she had run away. Suburbs (11)

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