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A little humor goes a long way to ease these ‘scary high school years’

For years, when the boys were little and “looked up” to me, I heard the refrain over and over again.“Enjoy these years because the high school years are scary.”I chuckled and nodded my head in agreement, but evidently I had forgotten about the hell I had put my parents through back in the early 1980s.Now, let me put a little disclaimer here: For the most part, Josh and Noah have given me and their mother few problems outside of the facts that their definition of a “clean room” is wildly divergent from ours and they must be allergic to dishwashing soap.Yet, I clearly remember the day that I absolutely, positively knew that my friends were right about those “scary high school years.”It was July 14, 2014, the day Josh and I went into New Hampton Superintendent Jay Jurrens’ office to talk about getting a school permit.Two weeks earlier, we had moved 2 1/2 blocks, which seemed innocent enough until I found out that those 2 1/2 blocks were enough to qualify my oldest son for a school permit.As much as I hate moving, I was tempted to pack everything back up and head to our old house.Jurrens gave a stern-but-not-too-stern talk to Josh, and an hour later, I had another driver — or shall I say, another driver who could drive alone — in the house.Two hours after that, I get this innocent text — “Dad, just wanted to let you know I’m at the CWC and will be home to leave for weights at 4:45.”First off, I had rarely heard from Josh that summer. Getting him to text me how he did in a morning baseball game was akin to getting Democrats and Republicans to agree on anything.Second of all, I had come up with a new translation program — one not found on Google but vital to all parents of teenagers — and I broke it out for the occasion.“I’m buttering you up by telling you where I’m at, but I’d really like you to be home by 4:45 so I can drive your car to weights.”That signaled the beginning of the high school scary days.About 20 minutes after Josh drove off with my car, I was talking to a friend and told him, “Well, at least he got there.”My friend, however, disagreed.“Look, if Josh wrapped the car around a light pole,” he said, “he probably walked to weights and will tell you later.”Today, of course, I have two teenagers driving, but, fortunately, Josh and Noah share a car so unless I’m stupid enough to let one of them use my car, which I am at times, I usually only have to fret about one at a time.Still, since they got their “tickets to freedom,” the lone accident recorded in the Fenske house is on my ledger.Before we departed for Cedar Falls this summer, I smacked the side of my car into the poles that “protect” the gas pumps at Kwik Star. And yes, every time the boys notice the dent in the car (which is every single time they get into it), they give me grief.There have been other “funny” stories that come with the issuance of two new drivers licenses in our household.Josh has learned that being the oldest child, at home at least, comes with its drawbacks.When Josh got his regular license, it was weeks — heck, maybe months — before I gave him permission to drive outside of New Hampton’s city limits.Noah secured his license sometime around 1 p.m. on May 27. Four hours later, I rode my bike home after work and Josh asked, “Where’s Noah?”“Um ... well ... um,” I stuttered, “he’s in Cedar Falls getting some stuff for football camp.”The look on Josh’s face — are you kidding me? — is one I will never forget.Truth be told, however, I’ve come to appreciate those two licenses these days.They can drive themselves to those early-morning workouts while I get some much needed beauty rest. If they want to go watch a movie I have no desire to see, I can give them the keys and enjoy a little peace and quite at the abode.Plus, those 3 1/2-by-2 1/4-inch licenses have given me a few laughs.A few weeks ago, some kind of new video game was being released at 12:01 a.m. on a Friday, and it just happened to be the Friday of “parent-teacher conference week,” which meant that the boys didn’t have school later that day.Josh asked me if he could use my car to drive several of his buddies to Waterloo.After much hemming and hawing, I said yes, figuring since he was staying at his mom’s, she would be the one that would nix the plan.“Make sure you clear it with your mom,” I said.Later that day, Robin and I were figuring out schedules when Josh walked in.Robin: I got your text and I don’t know about that.Josh: Mom, come on.Robin: Josh ... seriously.Josh (in his best deadpan voice): Mom, nothing bad ever happens in Waterloo in the middle of the night.I couldn’t help myself and laughed out loud.Fortunately, it turns out, the young man doesn’t get his driving skills from me but that sense of humor, that’s definitely mine.

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