Jerry Harris, "Class of 17," Lives Two Different Lives
Jerry Harris lives two different lives. His parents are divorced, and he spent the past school year with dad in Ardmore, Oklahoma. This summer, he’s with mom and sister in Coppell. We catch up with Jerry, a member of KERA’s Class of ’17.
Jerry doesn’t hide his feelings. Yes, he still loves basketball. The 15 year-old misses his mom, 10 year-old sister Abbey and friends from Coppell. But after a few weeks in Texas this summer, he’s feeling the tug from Oklahoma.
“I mean, it’s good to be back, but also, I’m still missing Ardmore,” Jerry says.
He feels much freer there. When Jerry lived here, mom had him write and sign a contract stating his responsibilities, goals and schedule for the month. Break the contract and he’d be grounded. With dad, rules are fewer.
“I’m loving it. It’s not as crowded,” Jerry says. “We have a ranch house and a city house, and we would go between them. So like on the weekends we can drive fifteen minutes and be out in the country and be miles away from civilian life, as we call it. I mean we can shoot – guns and baskets - ride the 4-wheelers, fish.”
“It’s very much two bachelors in a bachelor pad,” counters Jerry’s mom.
Susie Evans is a special education diagnostician with the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district.
“In the beginning, a lot of, you know just best friends, versus parent child,” Evans observes about her son's life with dad in Oklahoma. “How I run my house is different. I think he should clean up his plates from the table and put them in the dishwasher versus leave them for days on end for someone else to pick up, and things like that.”
Jerry gets all the freedom he can handle, his dad told him, until he messes up.
Plainview High, in Ardmore, has fewer than 400 students. Coppell has seven times that. In Oklahoma, Jerry played on the freshman, Junior Varsity and Varsity teams. But he did mess up.
“I did the right thing just not in the right way, is what they told me,” Jerry says.
He explains that during school lunch, someone attacked his best friend from behind. Jerry jumped in and got suspended for three days. Teachers said he should have bear-hugged the guy, not punched him to the ground.
“That was too much drama in the home life,” Jerry says. “Dad was like I can’t really punish you for something I would have done. You need to know how to handle it different.”
Suspension ruined Jerry’s perfect attendance record, costing some much needed extra credit. That’s because his grades slipped. At the last minute, he studied hard and “aced” his finals, turning some C’s into A’s. That was too close for mom Evans, who says she’ll be more of a helicopter mom, keeping in touch with Jerry’s teachers 90 miles away. She worries.
“I think any parent is worried, you know, so yes I do worry,” Evans says.
She worries about girlfriends.
“He has girls all the time tweeting and texting both here and there,” she explains
“I’m friends with all the ladies,” Jerry quietly boasts.
But nothing’s serious.
“All my money goes to guns," Jerry says, "so I don’t have room to date, or money to date, or nice things to buy.”
Mom also worries about his driving, which Jerry’s dad occasionally allows, even though Jerry's not old enough.
“My dad knows everyone,” Jerry says. “He knows the cops. So if we ever did get pulled over while I was driving, it really wouldn’t be a worry to us. I mean, my dad was always in the car with me.”
Which is legal, with a learner’s permit. Jerry doesn’t have one. Getting one, later this year, is one of his Oklahoma goals.