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!

BUT, MOM, WE HAVE CALL WAITING (by Janine Mick Wills)

girl on phoneAn exasperated father, who tried unsuccessfully to call home for two years, invented call waiting. I’m sure he’s a millionaire by now and sports a phone in every room of his Beverly Hills mansion.

Jeff swore we’d never get call waiting, but that was before Jennifer blossomed into a teenager.

Jennifer inherited her penchant for talking on the phone from me. I once talked to my best friend in high school for seven hours. I’ve never admitted that to Jennifer. I tell her the same thing my father told me, “If you can’t say it in ten minutes, it doesn’t need to be said.”

The only time Jennifer isn’t glued to the phone is when she’s sleeping (And I’m not real sure about that) and now on weekday mornings. She had showed up late for school so many times, we hired an off-duty policeman to guard the phone every morning from 6:30-8:00.

When school lets out though, she makes up for it. She dashes for the house where I hold the front door open, so she doesn’t lose stride. Dropping her book bag at my feet, she makes a beeline for the telephone. Since we live right across the street from the school, she gets home before all of her friends. She practices dialing their numbers until one of them answers.

I have no idea what they talk about. Every time I try to eavesdrop, she turns her back toward me and lowers her voice an octave. Jared used to listen in on the other phone and report back to me, but when he raised his rates, I couldn’t afford the hush money.

It’s sad to say, but Jennifer only has one ear now. She lost the left one from the countless times we pried the receiver off with a crowbar. People thought she had a birth defect until she styled her hair to cover it up.

Jason doesn’t talk on the phone unless there is a girlfriend on his horizon, and only then if he can strong-arm Jennifer and lock her in the basement. Jason copies his father in that aspect. Jeff doesn’t like to talk on the phone either.

“Oh Jeff,” I say. “Your mother’s on the line.”

“Honey Bun, Sugar Pie, would you talk to her? You know I hate talking on the phone.”

“Jeff, she’s your mother, and you haven’t talked to her on the phone since Velcro was invented. She’s forgotten the sound of your voice.”

“Tell her I’m busy. Tell her I’m out milking the cows.” By this time Jeff’s eyes are bulging and his voice sounds whiny.

“Jeff, Dear, we live in a condo. Now, let go of the china cabinet and come talk to her. She’s on the roof of her house threatening to jump if you don’t at least say ‘Hi.’ ”

“Oh, if I have to. But ring the doorbell in two minutes and yell that someone’s here to see me, Okay?”

Jared’s a mix between his father, Jason, and Jennifer. He talks on the phone, but he prefers eye contact with his conversations. He doesn’t converse on the phone unless the young girls from school call him first.

Jeff doesn’t approve of girls calling the boys. He scared off all the high school girls who used to call Jason. But those pesky junior high schoolers, who want to talk to Jared, are a different story. They call him night and day.

If Jared has nothing better to do, he talks to his female admirers, but just long enough to keep them groveling at his feet. If he doesn’t feel like talking, he wildly gesticulates for us to tell them he isn’t home.

“Jared, you shouldn’t ask us to lie for you,” I scold.

“But Mom, I don’t want to talk.”

“If you don’t want to talk, you tell that person yourself.”

“Right, Mom. Like when you make us tell the credit card companies you’re in the shower.”

“That’s different, Son. I’m an adult. I’m allowed to lie.”

It’s a good thing Alexander Graham Bell is already dead. If he weren’t, I’d have to take a hit out on him. His parents were lucky. They didn’t have to deal with kids on the phone all the time.

But then again… that’s just the way kids are.



Alarm clocksIf the singer, Madonna, had met Jared, she would have sung,“Boys Just Want to Have Fun”. Jared is our playmaker. Nothing rattles him. The words “quiet” and “slow down” are not in his vocabulary. He makes the Energizer Bunny look like Aunt Jemima syrup on a cold winter’s day.

At age nine he saw the Army’s motto on TV. He raced to his room, packed up his baseball cards, shoved his favorite pair of Nike socks and a box of Pop tarts in his book bag, and then headed for the front door.

I grabbed his arm. “Young man, where do you think you’re going?”

I’m going to join the Army and be all that I can be.”

Can’t you do that right here in the comfort and security of your own home?”

Nah. I want one of those neat Army uniforms. Besides, it’d be so cool to jump out of an airplane and land in down-town Beirut.”

I immediately called the Volunteer Fire Department. They helped me wrestle Jared to the floor and lock him in his bedroom. Three days later and after promising him he could shave his head and eat lumpy, mashed potatoes for a week, I let him out. Needless to say, we don’t allow him to watch TV anymore.

Jared has his father’s gift of gab. It drives his older brother Jason crazy.

Jared, will you please shut up? Mom, how do you put up with him all day long?”

It’s not a problem. After he tells me something for the hundredth time, I just ignore him.”

If it were only that easy. You really can’t ignore Jared, at least not on this side of the grave. When something pops up in his mind, the gears grind so loudly, we can hear it all through the house. With a slaphappy grin he hunts down the closest living thing to share this new piece of information.

Oh no,” we all scream. “Jared’s thinking again. Quick. Where’s the plane tickets to Siberia?” And we all flee like Don King running from his barber. Even the cats head for cover.

If Jared were only content to hound one of us, we could play tag team and share the burden, but he won’t stop until he hunts down each member of the family and gives an agonizing play-by-play. He makes a search-and-destroy missile look like a cap gun. I’ll give him credit though. He charges through life with the tenacity of Bill Gates cornering the computer software market. He just won’t give up.

Take baseball practice for example. If it begins at 6:30 p.m., he starts reminding me at 6:00, a.m. which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t three days before practice. He gives a running account of when it’s time to leave.

Mom, we have to go in two days, six hours, forty-five minutes and thirty-three seconds. Mom, we have to go in two days, six hours, forty-five minutes and thirty-two seconds. Mom,…”

By the time we pull out of the driveway, I’ve taped his mouth shut with two rolls of duct tape and smashed every clock in the house.

But none of us can stay angry at Jared. How can you be mad at someone who is so doggone happy all the time?


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