Stories from our staff about growing up

February 26, 2002

My parents have a nasty habit, bubbling to the surface from time to time in a display made more irritating to tender teenage ears.

They tend to preach, and every life lesson attains After School Special status.

"Well, son ..." This is how it always begins.

"Well, son, sometimes that's just the way things happen." Or my favorite: "Well, son, that's life."

Really? Because I wasn't quite sure if this gut-wrenching break-up/botched scholarship application/missed field goal/terribly embarrassing episode qualified.

Never mind there was an absolute rightness to their words. For a teen looking to vent, right and wrong were the last things on my mind.

- Kevin Clapp,

It's not entirely accurate to say I'm neat and Mom isn't. Her bedroom is a monument to disorder now, but mine wasn't so tidy when I was young.


But I'll always remember the tea bags, and how much they rankled me.

Mom loves her tea. I never figured out why she would plop dripping tea bags on the counter and walk away.

At a garage sale one day, I found the answer: a ceramic piece for wet tea bags. It was shaped and painted like a smiling tea kettle.

Just to humor me, Mom used it a few times.

I've stopped getting steamed about it.

- Andrew Schotz,

My mom always cut my school lunch sandwiches in quarters. She also wrapped the heck out of everything.

One of those quartered sandwiches, for example, would first be wrapped in waxed paper. Then in foil or in a little plastic bag secured with a twist tie. Then in the brown paper bag

Not a big deal, of course, but a little embarrassing for a high school freshman.

As a mom myself, I think I understand why my mother did what she did. She'll always think of me as her little girl, thereby cutting things in little pieces.

Wrapping and wrapping and wrapping was a way of protecting me - even after I walked out the door and left for school.

- Kate Coleman,

I dread the I told you so's or hearing about how things were done back in 1900 when my mom was young.

- Kim Yakowski,

The most irritating thing my parents ever did was to tell me I couldn't do something. When I asked why, they'd say "because I said so."

I swore I would never do that to my children. But lo and behold, I fell back on that lame response once and a while.

- Marlo Barnhart,

My dad had a collection of irritating habits.

You know how kids drink milk from a carton when people aren't looking? My dad did that, and he didn't care if anyone saw it.

Food left on a plate in the refrigerator was considered fair game. He ate food intended for Santa Claus and left a "more cookies, please" note.

He would stop on a freeway for anything potentially interesting or recyclable - a discarded copy of Jet magazine or a Pepsi can. He recycled the cans, but 20-year-old copies of Ladies Home Journal and Rolling Stone would sit on a trampoline that served as the magazine/newspaper pile.

But what rankled the most were the newspapers. He would pick up the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register and the Wall Street Journal, sit on The Chair and turn on the television.

You can tell if he enjoyed what was on television based on how many papers he read. And by the size of the trampoline pile.

- Scott Butki,

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