Disclaimer: The accounts you are about to read are tongue-in-cheek. They have more to do with my foibles than my children’s misadventures. I took real-life events and ran with them (Sometimes running them into the ground!). But I have a sneaky suspicion if you have reared children or are rearing them now, you will see yourself or them in Raising Kids and Teens. Enjoy!


13, 14, 15, 17… (by Janine Mick Wills)

If misery loves company, the Wills’s house was the Holiday Inn last year. I’ve been told the worse time in parents’ lives is when their teenager turns thirteen and sixteen years old. Jason and Jennifer proved the thirteen-year-old theory correct. But I vowed when Jason turned sixteen, we would make it through unscathed. Famous last words.

Jason turned sixteen with a vengeance. I used to say he had a boy’s brain in a man’s body. Not to his face though. At sixteen, Jason believed rules should be broken, crushed, and annihilated.

I knew Jason didn’t worry about what I thought anymore. Not since he was six years old and was already two inches taller than me. But Jeff is 6’4” tall and weighs two hundred and fifty pounds. Only a fool wouldn’t be scared of him. What did I say about a boy’s brain in a man’s body?

Lord only knows how many times I told Jason, “Just you wait until your father gets home. I’d write down everything he’d done wrong on a color-coded card index. The only problem was by the time Jeff got home, Jason had wrestled the Rolodex from me and blew it up in the microwave. The Office Max employees learned to recognize me. Every time they saw me coming, they pulled another gift-wrapped Rolodex out from under the counter.

“Jeff, you have to deal with your son.”

“My son? The last time I checked his birth certificate, you were listed under ‘Mother’ .”

“That’s beside the point. Your son has crossed the line for the last time.”

“Janine, Jason crossed that line ninety-seven times yesterday. What has he done now?”

“Well, I had a list of things, all in alphabetically order, but it’s… it’s gone.”

“Didn’t you lose your list yesterday? What keeps happening to them, and why can’t you just remember what was on today’s list?”

By this time I’d be flustered and trying not to let Jeff know Jason had gotten the better of me… again! “I don’t know. It was lots of things.”

“Honey, I need some specifics before I can punish him.”

“He’s sixteen, Jeff. Just punish him for that.”

Jason really couldn’t help himself. At sixteen, all teenagers think they’re grown up. They want to drive the family car, get a job, and throw their parents out of the house. The problem is they’re not quite ready to be adults yet, but that sure doesn’t stop them from acting the part.

I have to admit, Jason was shrewd. He knew just how far he could push my envelop. He stopped immediately when I used his full name.

“Jase, empty the trash.”


“Jason, I said empty the trash.”

More silence.

“Jason Dallas Wills, get off that sofa and empty the trash.” His speed could rival the times he out-speared Jared for the last piece of fried chicken.

When Jason reached the magically, grown-up age of sixteen, he thought he was smarter than Jeff and me. True, I’d forgotten all the Spanish I’d learned in high school, and his Geometry book looked like do-it-yourself instruction manual for assembling the Space Hubble.

“Mom, what does bueno mean?”

“Uh, I don’t know, Jason. Is it the capital of Argentina?”

“No, no, no. Can’t you remember? You told me you took three years of Spanish in high school.”

“Well, Jason, that was twenty-two years ago, and I only took Spanish because they wouldn’t let me take two P.E. classes.”

Yes, Jason’s sixteenth year was tough. But I won’t let it happen when Jennifer turns sixteen next April. I’m going to change the year on her birth certificate so she goes straight from fifteen to seventeen!



If teenagers had written the Ten Commandments, there would have been an eleventh one: “Thou shalt not put down my friends.” This fatal flaw drives a wedge between a teenager and his/her parents that would make Tiger Woods envious. In all the no-no’s of parenting, this is the biggest. Any intelligent parent knows the quickest way for a teenager to stick with a friend, is to condemn that said friend. But I never said I was intelligent.

Jason thought when he turned seventeen that anything he did, let alone his friends, was okay. Was he wrong.

Jeff and I started with the basic, “Now, Son. You know we don’t approve of so-and-so.”

For some reason that never worked.

Then we’d try a harsher tone of voice. “Son, you cannot associate with so-and-so.” 

That didn’t work either. Jason would reply, “Sure, Mom and Dad,” and then hang out with that person at school anyway. 

We thought we’d fix his little red wagon by buying a computer. What an amazing little contraption that was. I used the Internet to run character checks on all of Jason’s friends. It’s amazing what you can find out through “People Search”. If Jason’s friends didn’t pass muster, I just deleted them from the system. Several days later the authorities dragged them out of class, and they were never heard from again.

This clever ruse didn’t work with Jennifer. She figured how to change the AOL password and promptly locked me out. That girl is way too smart for her own good.

I resorted to other tactics with her. I baked my award-winning brownies and took boxes of them to school. The teachers loved me. After they let their guard down, I offered them $100 if they snitched on Jennifer’s friends. Money does talk. In fact, some of the teachers got so chatty, I used the answering machine to screen my calls.

I not only found out every detail about Jennifer’s friends, I also found out every time they combed their hair, each time they sharpened their pencils, and even when they washed their hands before lunch. Enough is enough.

Jared, once again benefited from his siblings’ experiences. I didn’t even know who his friends were. I didn’t want to.


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