The Pruetts had a lot of kids. They went from being a perfect family of four to having a lot of kids all in one day.
Jared thought it was amazing how rapidly the family expanded when they welcomed the twins. He and Asia loved their brood and wouldn’t have it any other way. However, despite the satisfaction with their lot in life, the stress and chaos that came with it had no regard for that satisfaction. Sometimes, it got the best of them. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a little passive aggression here, frustration there, and tiredness all over everywhere. They learned they needed to created some margin in their lives. At least Jared did when he found himself being the primary caretaker again. Even though Asia’s new schedule was a gem, it didn’t last long. She got another promotion, and her new schedule was 2-11. Luckily, she still had the same three nights off in the middle of the week.
Caring for the children, the house, and keeping up with his own life was nothing he had never done before, so it was fine. However, it was not as easy as it once was. He thought having a teenager in the house would ease the pressure. Instead, it added new layers to the Pruett’s parfait of chaos.
Kolby had more homework and was still taking piano lessons. He had more friends and was getting interested in girls. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Jared didn’t feel the need to wait up for him when he went out.
The twins brought two new personalities into the mix. They had different needs and required different levels of attention. Jared expected them to prefer each other’s company because they were twins, but to his surprise, they both had their own set of friends and preferred their company which meant more play dates and kids visiting the house.
Poor Kaiden was stuck in the middle. He was a lot closer to Kolby’s age than the twins but still not a teenager yet. His birthday on Thursday couldn’t come fast enough.
Jared and Asia were usually quite good at maintaining a positive attitude under pressure, but even they had their breaking point. They hadn’t reached it yet, but after a few episodes of “I’m too tired,” and, “I don’t feel like talking right now,” and “I just want to be alone,” they finally got around to discussing how to ease the pressure, manage the new normal, and keep the balance. After all, they were experts at making things work. This is what they came up with: Asia’s first night off (Tuesday) would be Jared’s night. She would take care of the kids and the house, and he was free to be alone and do whatever he needed to do. Her second night off (Wednesday) would be date night. The normal pressure always put a strain on their love life, and they wanted to prevent it from getting worse. Asia’s final night off (Thursday) would be family night. No play dates. No study groups. No dating. Everyone must be at home just that one night. And then, wherever possible, Asia committed to getting up with everyone to make breakfast and see them off. It took a couple of rounds to get used to, but the schedule is working out quite nicely.
Asia had to work on Sunday afternoon, so she didn’t spend much time at Eliza’s. As she was returning home, she found Jared’s friend, Irvin Frank, walking toward their house. Jared was chilling in the basement, and Asia sent him down there to find him.
“What’s happenin, brother!”
He was surprised to hear his voice. “Frank! What’s up?”
“You know…makin it do what it do.”
Irvin seemed nervous or something, but Jared thought he would find out what was wrong along the way. “Business still going well?”
“Oh yeah, yeah…can’t complain about that…”
Jared knew his friend since high school. Everything was not ok. “So…what are you here to complain about?” He elbowed him in the ribs.
Irvin chuckled. “I should have known I couldn’t escape my intuitive friend.”
“Oh please. You know you only come over here when you’re in desperate need of my sage advice.” He flashed a cheeky grin.
“HA! Maybe you should be a comedian!”
“You know it’s true. So…what can I help you with today?”
“A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a show at the Blue Velvet. There was this tall blonde with these beautiful green eyes and sexy lips. She was stunning!”
“Ah haaaaaa! I think I like where this story is going!”
“She was making eyes at me the whole time. I couldn’t ignore her! So, I included her in the set. I got her on the stage to do a bit with me, and man… She was bangin’ in the front and the back!”
It had been a while since Jared had been part of locker room talk and wasn’t quite sure how he was supposed to respond or if he was.
“When the set was over, I asked her if I could buy her a drink. We had a few. I knew she was keen, but I wasn’t gonna go for it. You know me…I’m not the messy type. Well…at least not until now…”
“Now? Goodness, Frank! What have you done?”
“Jared,” Asia called from atop the stairs, “I’m leaving now.”
“Ok, honey! Have a good night. Love you!” he spouted quickly. Irvin left him dangling on a cliff.
“I love you too! I made some salad. It’s in the fridge. Oh, and Kolby’s not here, so listen out for the kids.”
“See ya, Asia.”
They waited until they heard the second door close before they carried on with their conversation.
“So… She invited me back to her place, and maaaan–
“Ok, ok, I know my wife is gone, but don’t need the details!”
Irvin put up his hands apologetically. “We had fun, and that was it. We didn’t exchange information, and I didn’t even think about her after that. A couple of days later, I met this woman named Penny. JARED. This woman…she put them all to shame! She’s smart, successful, independent, surprisingly down-to-earth, and fine too? I was done, bro.” He threw up his hands in surrender this time.
Jared smiled at his friend’s excitement about this promising mate. It was a rare occasion when Irvin called him by his first name.
“We kicked it real hard for like a week, and I just felt it, you know? I had to marry her!”
“Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Frank! You got married and didn’t tell me, man? That’s foul!”
“It was quick! We eloped.”
“Still!” He was so disappointed. Jared had been trying to get his friend married for years.
“I know. I’m sorry. I just had to be with her. I didn’t want to waste any time planning big expensive parties.”
“With all that money you have?” Jared said in disbelief.
“You know what I mean. Engagement dinners, bachelor parties, rehearsal dinners… All those things just delay everything. I just wanted to be married to her already.”
Jared was touched. “I get it. Congratulations, Frank! Welcome to the club! It’s about it time!” He slapped in on the back.
“Thanks, bro.” He looked happy, but there was some apprehension in his eyes too.
“Uh oh…is there more?”
“Y-yeah. The blond… She came to my house last week…a couple of days ago actually. S-she said she had a baby…and he was mine!”
Jared gasped. “You have a son?” He wanted to congratulate him, but he knew it was complicated and sudden.
“I felt sick to my stomach, man. I didn’t even remember her name, bro. When she told me, I realize that you know her.”
“Who?” His left eyebrow raised as high as it could go.
“She used to be your neighbor…”
Jared’s head jerked back. “India? You have a son with India? That crazy woman?”
“I don’t even know her, man, but yeah! I have an infant son named DeMario, and I have a brand new wife I’m afraid to tell about him. This is a mess!”
“You gotta tell her, man. Waiting will only make it worse.”
“I know. I’m just afraid that she’ll think I stepped out on her seeing as how I got with her so quickly after ol girl.”
“Just be honest. It’s all you can do. She might need some time to think about how it affects things, but if she’s as awesome as you say, she’ll come around.”
“I hope so. Thanks for the advice, man. You’re always around to save my bacon.”