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!



cartoon threeBy the time Jared reached that dreaded adolescent stage, I was an old pro. I’d already weathered two kids going through it, and social services had only knocked on our door half-a-dozen times. I was all set. There was a problem though. Jared’s the third child, and everyone knows how neglected the third child is.

I had kept everything of Jason’s. From the bandage off his umbilical cord to the spitball he threw at his first grade teacher. I had recorded his every move. We kept building on to the house just to make room for all his memorabilia. When they finally revoked our building permit, we rented four storage spaces.

When Jennifer was born, the attention dwindled. She had one baby book, a scrapbook, and a shoebox to hold all her personal effects.

Then came Jared. After twelve years of life upon this earth, he has a business-size envelope that contains his birth certificate and shot records. I also keep my Christmas recipes in that envelope. One day his wife-to-be will wonder if he ever existed at all.

But don’t feel sorry for Jared.  He has a Mom and Dad that are so relaxed, he shoots us with a stun gun to sign his report card. He learned to tie his shoes by himself, learned his numbers by reading the back of his baseball cards, and his second grade teacher taught him how to color coordinate his clothes.

Jared has never suffered the angst of two parents following him around like a lovesick pup. Not once have we embarrassed him in front of his friends by holding his hand in public. He can eat cold pizza for breakfast, Twinkies for lunch, and a soda and a bag of chips for supper. He rarely gets yelled at. Jeff and I are too busy trying to figure out the new stages his older brother and sister are going through.

But Jared being Jared, wasn’t about to let adolescence come without our knowing about it.

“Hey, Mom. Come here and check out this zit.”

“Uh, Jared. I hate to disappoint you, but that is a piece of dried-up corn. You forgot to wash your face after supper last night.” Jared just smiled and went looking for his father,

“Hey, Dad.  Check out this muscle.” He flexed his arm so hard, the veins popped out on his forehead.

“Uh, Jared. I’m sorry, Son, but that’s left over baby fat.” Jeff received the same smile as Jared went to find his brother

“Hey, Jason,” he said, flapping his arms like a chicken. “Look. I’m starting to get underarm hair.”

“Uh, Jared. When you have as much underarm hair as I do, then we’ll talk about it.” Whereby Jason proudly displayed underarm hair Rapunzel could have used to escape her ivory tower.

Not to be discouraged, Jared went looking for Jennifer.

“Hey, Jen.” But that is as far as he got. Jennifer ran to her room, slammed and locked the door, then pushed her dresser, desk and night stand over to barricade it.

The next thing I heard was Jared yelling, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.”

Since I’ve been through this adolescence thing twice already, it’s not a big deal that Jared is passing through it. In fact, I try to downplay it. Like the time he triumphantly came into the bedroom to show me the hair on his legs.

“Hey, Mom. Look how long and dark the hair on my legs is getting.”

Being the good mother I am, I felt it my duty to rein in his pride. I hiked my nightgown up to my knees and said, “Jared, the hair on my legs is longer and darker than yours.”

Jared studied my leg for a minute and then said, “Yeah, but mine doesn’t have all that cellulite with it.”

I know. I deserved that.

I’m not sure overlooking Jared’s adolescence has been good though. By ignoring his adolescent moments of glory, I’ve missed many of the things going on in his young life.

But he’s a happy, well-adjusted adolescent. Though come November, he’ll be a teenager too. I wonder if it’s too late to book reservations for that Round-the-World cruise my mother went on when I became a teenager?


IT WASN’T MY FAULT, HONEST! (by Janine Mick Wills)

cartoon girlI hated the day Jason entered junior high school and became interested in the opposite sex. “Opposite Sex”. It even sounds ominous.

I called Jeff up at work. His boss said if I didn’t stop calling, he’d deduct Jeff’s paycheck to install a hotline at the office.

“Jeff, Jason has a girlfriend.”

“Hey, way to go, Jase.”

“What do you mean, ‘Way to go, Jase’? I’m supposed to be the only female in his life.”

“Now Janine, I met and fell in love with you, and my mom didn’t call out the National Guard.”

I was losing ground, and I knew it. I panicked.

“But that’s different,” I whined. “She’s a… a mother-in-law!”

I hadn’t even met Jason’s girlfriend, but I disliked her already. There was no way she could be good enough for my son. I lay awake at night thinking of ways to get her out of Jason’s and my lives. I could sneak over to school, lure her into the old boiler room, and lock her in until Jason had a Ph.D. and a mansion in an upscale neighborhood. Or maybe I could tie her up in gym locker room with her first training bra. My imagination knew no limits.

Instead, I settled on a way that mothers have used since Eve told Abel not to date anyone outside their garden club. I got sneaky. Very sneaky (I’ll devote an entire chapter later in this book to the art of sneakiness).

I sneaked into Jason’s room after he left for school and looked for incriminating evidence. I sneaked into my bedroom and picked up the phone and listened to their puppy love conversations. I even sneaked outside Jennifer’s bedroom and listened as she and Jason discussed “that girl”. You’d be amazed how quickly I could jump from her door into the hall bathroom when I heard them coming.

The more I thought about Jason’s little “home wrecker,” the more I determined to bring this infatuation to an end. One day I came up with a way to break them up. I called her. I’m ashamed to admit the things I said. It wasn’t nice. It wasn’t pretty, but I got my wish.

The next day at school, the two of them broke up. It’s hard to gloat when your firstborn is looking at you with such hatred. It took three years before Jason trusted me again to share matters of the heart.

The day he told me about his first high school sweetheart, the heavens parted and a legion of angels sang the “Hallelujah Chorus”. My happiness knew no bounds as I breathlessly listened to him describe his new flame. And this time, there was no way on earth I would blow my new-won confidence.

“You say she has her nose pierced three times? Well great. You’ll know what to get her for Christmas.”

“And she has tattoos on half her body? Terrific. There’s still plenty of room left for “I love Jason.”

“Oh, her father’s in prison? Well, maybe he’ll be paroled before the two of you marry.”

Thankfully the two of them broke up several weeks later. But you can bet the farm it wasn’t my fault.


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