Like me, you may have mixed emotions about being called up for jury duty. It may not be the happiest way to spend your day, but you can’t deny it is a privilege to be part of the justice system. Yet, as I was packed in a room with a thousand other people who seemed to not really want to be there, I started to pay extra close attention to the information video describing exemptions from service.
Are you under 18 years of age?
Shoot. Definitely not me. In fact, my boys are laughing so hard after reading that, it’s best to move on.
Are you not a citizen of the United States?
Born and raised. Next, please.
Do you live outside of county lines?
Darn it. Smack dab in the middle.
Do you have kids 12 and under that require your supervision?
Please don’t bring attention to the fact that I AM A MOM OF TEENAGERS. Onward.
Do you have a family member whose care is dependent on you and this care would suffer if you had to serve as a jury member?
Does six rounds of daily eye meds and a desperate need to be near me at all hours of the day count?
They technically never stated the family member had to be human…
In case you were wondering, I was dismissed from duty by 11am. Next time, I’ll be ready though, just in case.
I love that teenage boys think parents have no idea on how to beat the system.
T.Puzzle was in a world of hurt. He did not like what was served for dinner (trust us, no one in our house found this shocking) and he tried to slyly dump its remainders from his bowl. Mad Dog called him out but Lil’ T.P. took it even further. He lied about it. Said he had finished everything.
He was almost sent straight to bed. Instead, Mad Dog determined the best course of action was to let him stay up but he would allow T.Puzzle zero snacks. While zero snacks does not seem that extreme, to a growing boy who barely touched his dinner, this felt rather catastrophic (which is kind of the point if we are being honest).
The boys went back to their game room. It is set in the furthest reach of our home, tucked away but still a few steps from the kitchen.
Always the kitchen with these guys! In and out, snacks upon snacks. I sometimes marvel they both haven’t turned into potato chips by the sheer volume of snack foods they consume.
So, when Full Speed comes meandering into the kitchen, he decides for the first time in ages he is going to have Oatmeal Squares. While this seems like a normal, teenagery snack, and it is, it also happens to be one of T.Puzzle’s regular favorites.
“You’re planning to give your brother some aren’t you?” said Mad Dog.
“Maybe.” said Full Speed.
Boy, you can’t beat the system when your Mom and Dad invented the system.
I dedicate this post to all the siblings out there fighting parental oppression. It is real and causes so many problems like learning, growing and developing into normal, human adults.
2019 will forever be known as the year Mad Dog and I became the parents of teenagers!
How did we go from this:
Somehow our boys became young men in less than a year’s time! No one tells you that when you become a parent. That in an instant your children vanish and are replaced by grown-up versions of themselves. Naively, I thought it would be more gradual. How do I feel about this? If I am to take a cue from T.Puzzle and his extreme articulation abilities which are common to thirteen year old boys around the world I’d say this:
“I don’t care.” (my personal favorite)
In general, despite some family growing pains due to the realm of the teenager, both boys are successfully finding their way in the world. Academic success is part of that, and even this isn’t always smooth (A Humble Hero’s Journey), but it’s the intangibles that make them so awesome. Like Mad Dog, our boys get better with age.
2019 was the year of dreams realized. First and foremost, Mad Dog and I ventured to Africa (My Heart Belongs to Africa). The magic of the African bushveld and all our adventures there have pushed me to keep writing. I never know where it might lead, but I am learning to love the process and am grateful for any chance I am afforded to be published.
Full Speed continues his basketball coaching journey by managing his high school’s freshman teams. He takes great pride in this role making sure to dress the part on game days. The freshman coach has expressed his appreciation for Full Speed’s strategical support and his positive leadership contributions. Something tells me this is only the beginning in what could be a life-long commitment to coaching for Full Speed. He truly is in his element out on that court and we could not be more proud of him.
If coaching is Full Speed’s element, giving is mine. Thankfully, I married someone who supports this life vision. Mad Dog and I were able to start our DeVaul Family Great Day Foundation this year. Each month we are able to give to the causes we care about. I am excited to see how it grows and where it goes.
And while some dreams were realized, 2019 was not without challenges. Mad Dog and I continue to navigate the strain of ‘third-party’ influences on our marriage. This has shown up in the fluffiest of forms:
The only way I make peace with Nora ‘stealing’ my man’s attention, is that she allows me to dress her up like a Disney Princess:
As I do my best to navigate ‘sharing’ Mad Dog, I am reminded that I, too, apparently have some boundary issues when it comes to Max. When he came into our house over six years ago at the age of ten, I never thought he would live to see so many holiday seasons with us. He is a reminder of all that is good in the world. He may be cranky on occasion but he is a living, breathing form of what unconditional love looks like.
Even though we are blessed with the most incredible boys and perfect dogs, we are happy to announce a new addition to our family!
Please welcome Roho the baby elephant! (yeah, I kind of freaked out my sister, too. All she heard was ‘baby’ and thought I had lost my mind)
We are fostering Roho for the next several years in the hopes he will learn the needed skills to successfully return to the wild after losing his mom to poachers. I will be getting my first pictures and official updates of his progress as Christmas arrives. He, by far, is my most well-behaved child.
Welcome to the family, Roho!
While we are so grateful to all the wonder 2019 supplied us, we are even more excited for what the future will bring. Yes, some of it may be unexpected and yes, it may not always look the way we imagined, but we have to be willing to let go of the life we wanted to live the life we are given. In my experience, the life we are given always far exceeds anything we believe we could want.
Happy Holidays to All.
Thank you for reading and may 2020 bring all your dreams alive!
As the lone female in our house I get that I am more detailed oriented when it comes to self-care and the minutiae of running a home. It then lands on me to decide how important I think something is and to the degree I want to pursue it.
Take toothbrushes for example. I took it upon myself to buy everyone electric brushes because I believe (or at least believe the marketing) that these will improve my boys’ oral hygiene (especially with T.Puzzle newly in braces). This particular kind sends you replacement heads every three months.
So the three month mark arrives and it’s time to replace. Absolutely no one other than myself cares about this.
Either I replace them all or all three of my guys will use the brush they have indefinitely.
While I did drag my feet on principle I couldn’t take it anymore and set about getting new bristles in place.
The grime I encountered on the boys’ brushes as I did so made my skin crawl. I’m not sure what it was or how my boys had not yet contracted a flesh-eating bacteria from it, but the muck and guck in and around the toothbrush holder and on the toothbrushes themselves, made me queasy, queasy, queasy.
How they saw that and still used the brushes is a mystery or a remarkable act of courage.
I now have a choice. I can give them instructions on the ins and outs of daily brush care, or I can let it go.
If I let it go, which is the direction I am leaning, I am praying that I can Amazon Prime myself a hazmat suit for when the next replacement bristles arrive.
Words more dreaded than this for a teenage boy simply do not exist.
This is where the story of our beleaguered hero begins.
He had a humble upbringing. Raised by a beautiful, age-defying, always-dancing mother and an extremely handsome (you’re welcome, Mad Dog) and benevolent father, our hero rose unassumingly through life’s ranks and, as any good story would have it, found himself face-to-face with doom (aka high school).
Our Humble Hero was not afraid for he new his birthright.
Great men are born to great men.
He had done the math (sort of, just don’t check his eighth grade Algebra 1 transcript) and realized he had everything he needed to succeed. He had wit, he had charm and he had incredible good looks (you’re welcome, Full Speed).
He had everything he needed except for one thing …
Most academic heroes, grammar gods and algebraic warriors know that without such skills, failure looms large. Their parents also know this. These parents state the obvious and hope their progeny take heed. Things like attending tutorials with teachers, studying in study hall (gasp!) and taking your time on tests all fall under the wisdom arc of great, parental knowledge.
Did our Humble Hero listen to these time-tested tenets of success?
Here is his story told in his own words:
Call to Adventure: The call to adventure occurs after parent night. Mad Dog learned that the Humble Hero’s L. A. teacher had tutorials. He came home and said “The Great Teacher has tutorials Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning.
You should go”.
Refusal of the Call: Our hero ignored the call thinking that he was too cool for more school. He assured Mad Dog that everything was under control.
Acceptance of the Call: One day, the hero got his grammar/vocab quiz back. He had missed 9 grammar questions for a score of 82. It was at this moment he knew he had messed up.
Crossing the Threshold: The hero arrived at The Great Teacher’s door and he entered the special world of her classroom.
The journey had begun.
Meeting the Mentor: All heroes need a guide that shows them the ways of life. The Great Teacher showed the hero how to become one with the grammar gods.
Trials and Tests: In class, the hero had to deal with worksheets about grammar. The days went by and eventually the hero finally figured out what a preposition does.
The Supreme Ordeal: All of the hero’s hard work had prepared him for this moment. A 50 question quiz with half of those being grammar. Mere mortals could not withstand the pressure of this quiz. But, our hero isn’t mortal. Brandishing his magic weapon, (a worn down mechanical pencil), he was able to complete the quiz with only minimal suffering.
The Reward: Much to his surprise, the hero had accomplished his goal. He had gotten an A on the grammar quiz.
Return with the Elixir: The hero was overjoyed. He couldn’t wait to tell his parents what he had accomplished.
Mad Dog’s response “I was right, wasn’t I?”
The hero could only muster, “Maybe”.
From this moment forward, strange occurrences became the Humble Hero’s new normal. As he began to attend other tutorials along with continuing to be mentored by the Great Teacher, all his test scores and grades improved.
How could it be? Do you mean to tell me the Humble Hero had the power to succeed THE WHOLE TIME. Move over sister, your ruby slippers got nothing on this guy.