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!). 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!
ADOLESCENCE MEANS WHAT? * (by Janine Mick Wills)
The person who penned the phrase “What a difference a day makes,” didn’t have kids. It’s not how much difference a day makes; it’s the year between twelve and thirteen that makes all the difference in the world. That’s when a growing child’s hormones kick in. Those little critters bounce around inside a young person’s body screaming for identity. Then they manifest themselves by making the young person scream for his or her identity. Thereafter, the teenager’s parents do all the screaming.
Forget the cure for the common cold. The individual, who guarantees a smooth transition from childhood to a teenager, will set the world free and make Bill Gates look like a pauper.
Jason had the dubious distinction of being the first child. He was “blessed” with a mom who didn’t believe he could roll off the changing table, a father who insisted he sleep with a baseball glove the first five years of his life, and both parents who kept turning him over, looking for instructions. How he made it this far is a testimony that God has a purpose for his life.
In my naiveté, I thought “adolescence” was when Jason turned thirteen, not those all-important years beforehand. I lost a golden opportunity to prepare him (and me) for what lie ahead. I blindly thought my fair-headed boy, who helped bake cookies and laughed when his daddy threw him two stories up in the air, would stay sweet and innocent forever. But then again I still played with my Barbie dolls in high school.
I blithely raised Jason the best I knew how, until one day I read the definition for “adolescent” in a popular woman’s magazine. I immediately called my mother.
“Mom, I just read in Good Housekeeping that adolescence is the time in a child’s life right before he becomes a teenager, not when he’s a teenager. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Honey, could you hold on a minute? There’s a huge dust bunny under the refrigerator that needs to be swept up. I’ll be right back.”
After several minutes and a lot of banging noises, I wondered if the dust bunny was more the size of a wolf. I was about to hang up when Mom got back on the line.
“I’m sorry, Dear. While I was at it, I took a pie out of the oven, polished the silverware, and rearranged the dining room centerpiece. Now, what were you saying?”
“I said you never told me Jason would start developing into a teenager before he became a teenager. Do you know he’s not even adolescing anymore? Why didn’t you tell me? I could have done something. Surely after going through my adolescence, you’d remember to tell me something so important.”
“Oh, that. You know I was packing for my world cruise when you were an adolescent. And besides, you were perfect. Your father told me so. I have to run. I need to hang up the laundry, sort my dental floss, and get the Clearing House Sweepstakes entry in the mail. Let me know how things turn out.”
And there I stood, a silent receiver in my hand, imagining Mom sweeping the streets of gold and starching the angels’ robes after she passed through those pearly gates. No wonder it would be heaven. Mom would be doing all the work.
I should have known Jason was leaving his childhood behind. There were subtle signs: hairy legs that rivaled King Kong; a deepening voice staccatoed with high-pitched squeaks; and his not wanting to hold my hand anymore when we crossed the street. Not that I didn’t try. But I did hold to my guns when he pleaded to spend the night with friends, start the car while it was still in the driveway, and watch PG-13 movies. My little boy was not going to grow up on my watch. No Sir-ey!
I might as well have tried to keep young girls from drooling over that Leonardo guy in the sinking ship movie. Jason was bound and determined to become a teenager with or without me.
But then again, that’s what kids are supposed to do!
* I dedicate this chapter to my sweet, little Mommy, who did pass through those pearly gates April 9, 2014. I love and miss you!
BUT HONEY, I ALREADY HAVE A LIFE! (by Janine Mick Wills)
After missing Jason pass through his tender pubescence, I swore I’d not make the same mistake with Jennifer. In fact, the latest edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has my caricature next to the entry “Overkill.” Actually, it’s a good likeness.
I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning pouring over mountains of books and magazines that mentioned the word “adolescence”. I even talked to parents whose children had passed through that stage of their lives.
“Oh, Susie Belle never gave us a bit of worry. She’s always been such a joy.”
“Henry? He breezed through adolescence with nary a scrape. Jack had the birds and the bees talk and showed him how to use a razor. But other than that, everything was smooth sailing.”
I wondered what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I figure this adolescent-thing out? Since I had failed so miserably with Jason, I decided to get hands-on experience from someone going through adolescence at that very moment. Jennifer.
Poor Jennifer. In the hand of life, she was dealt the middle child. She’s the only girl in the family. I call her our “lunchmeat” because she’s sandwiched in between the two boys. She played with trucks and trains, never wore a hair ribbon, and wanted to be a construction worker when she grew up.
I determined this gender-identity problem had to be dealt with before she entered grade school. I climbed up into the attic and dragged down my Barbie dolls (They were up there because Jennifer never played with them).
I explained she was a little girl; not a little boy.
“See Jennifer,” I said, parading the dolls in front of her. “This is Barbie, and this is Ken. Barbie is a girl. Ken is a boy.” Jennifer stared at Barbie, and then looked at me as if I had just asked her to eat Brussels sprouts.
“I don’t look like Barbie, so I must be a boy. Mommy, you don’t look like Barbie either. You must be a boy too.”
So much for using Barbie as a female role model.
It didn’t take long though for Jennifer to get the hang of being a girl. When I look at her today, I long for the days when she thought she was a boy. Now, she’s tall with legs up to her armpits, sports a mane of frothy blonde hair, and has killer blue eyes. All “Y” chromosome creatures for miles around camp outside our doorstep. I told her if she weren’t my daughter I’d hate her. Jealousy is not a pretty thing
On her eleventh birthday, I began watching her with a vengeance. No way would she pass into adolescence without my knowledge! I followed her like a dog begging a bone. When she entered the sixth grade, I made Jeff buy a house directly across from the school. This way I could wait for Jennifer to come home every afternoon. I jumped up and down and waved as soon as I saw her approaching.
“Jennifer, Jennifer. My sweet, precious Jennifer. What did you do in school today?”
Her eyes looked heavenward. I ignored her lips mouthing, Oh, Lord, please don’t let my friends see this.
“Nothing, Mother. Absolutely nothing.”
“Oh, come on now, Honey. Surely you did something interesting in school.”
By this time, Jennifer started inching away from me. “I told you, I didn’t do anything.”
“Now, Sweetie.” I reached for her book bag to carry it home. Those twenty pounds of books would not sag my adolescent’s shoulders. “I know things happened in school today. I called the office nineteen times to check on you.”
“Okay. Okay,” she said, rolling her eyes (That girl can roll her eyes like no other person I know). “I threw away a piece of paper in English class. Is that good enough for you?”
I beamed from ear-to-ear. My preteen had shared something with me. I rushed into the house and called Jeff at work.
“Guess what, Jeff?” I hollered as soon as the receptionist connected my call.
“Janine? What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing. Everything is just fine.”
“Well, what is it? You know I can’t take personal calls at work.”
“Your boss won’t mind me just this once. I have something important to tell you. Jennifer threw away a piece of paper in English class.”
Stunned silence met my ear.
“Jeff? Are you still there? Isn’t that marvelous news?”
“Janine, you’ve got to get a life!”
“But, Honey, I already have a life. I’m watching Jennifer become an adolescent. You know how disappointed I was that I missed Jason becoming one.”
“Yes, and Jason is turning out fine. Now, please, let me get back to work.”
And there I stood once again, looking at a silent receiver. I thought telephones had been designed for communication, but for some reason my family kept hanging them up on me.
Hmm… Maybe they already have a life too!