Kaiden was overjoyed about becoming a teenager. He was so tired of being in that in between stage of being perceived as a child but feeling more like a man. He was basically the middle child even though there was no middle with four children. Kolby was midway through his teen years, and the twins were just starting out. There he was right there in the middle. It’s almost like no one quite knew what to do with him. Things would probably be that way for the rest of his life. However, that wasn’t the concern of the day. He simply wanted to look and be perceived how he felt inside: an energetic, maturing young man who loved to learn and desired to know everything.
He wasn’t the only one who was excited about that day. His mother was the most excited of all. Most parents would sulk and lament the passing of the proposed cute and innocent years, but Asia was always excited about what was to come in her children’s futures.
One by one the guests trickled in while the Pruett family ate their dinner.
Back in the kitchen, Asia was trying to catch up on India’s latest gossip. Jared had only told her that she and the newly married Irvin had a baby.
“Sooooooo, I hear you’re a new mom again! Congrats!”
“Heh…yeah. Thanks.” She smiled nervously. “It’s…definitely an adjustment.”
“Kaleb…why don’t you go eat at the table with Kaiden? It’s not good to eat standing up.” That may have been true, but he was putting a damper on the gossip, and he had to go.
“But I like eating with you, mommy!”
“Awww,” India said.
“That’s nice, handsome, but please go eat at the table. I want to talk to Miss India!”
“Ok!” He ran off the dining room.
“He’s so precious,” India said. Her eyes followed him and she seemed far away.
“SO! Tell me all about it!” Asia was practically squealing.
In the living room, Jared sat next to Bob at the far end of the couch.
“Hey, big daddy! You’ve been reading pages from my book?”
As Bob proceeded to tell him about Lily and Lexi, and Jared gave him some advice on dealing with twins, Clara Bjergensen came in and sat between them. Upon hearing their supposed horror stories about twins, she decided it was time for her to join the conversation.
“That’s nothing. I had two sets of twins back to back!”
Both men gasped.
“You have six kids now, Clara?” Jared asked.
“Wow! And I thought we had a lot of kids!”
As the night went on, everyone seemed to be satisfied mingling in the common areas. Asia was pleased that the adults were behaving themselves–unlike last time–but she thought the party was a little bit of a drag. She announced she was going to open the bar downstairs and watched the party drift in that direction.
After a few songs and a few drinks, Asia noted that it was getting late and ushered her son toward the cake.
India must have been concerned about leaving her infant at daycare for the first time. Or, maybe being around a group of children reminded her of how difficult it was going to be for her to be starting over at the end of her youth.
Jared began cleaning up, and Bjorn thought he’d poke a little fun at him.
“You do this work?”
Jared smiled. Their marriage problems became a tad more clear to him and offered this advice. “This is how you stay happily married, man.”
Bjorn snorted and walked away. Kolby was hovering nearby. Jared hoped he heard their brief conversation. He hadn’t talked to him much about love and marriage yet, but hopefully, that was something he would pick up and tuck away.
Asia got up to put her glass away, and Jared ran to her to help.
“Hey, baby. Let me get that for you.” The tower of dishes rocked in his hands.
“You’re sweet! But, maybe you should take care of those first before we have an even bigger mess to clean.”
He looked at the filthy tower in disgust. “Yeah…you’re right.”
“I appreciate the offer though!”
He smiled and went upstairs, carefully minding the stack.
She chuckled as she watched him disappear upstairs. She turned around and watched everyone dance, drink, and mingle and felt pleased. Her new teenage son seemed happy, and that was the most important part. At times, she reflected on her life choices and wondered if she made the best decisions. Should she have been a stay-at-home mom? Should she have gotten a regular job and be home with her kids every night? Sometimes she felt guilty about going after what she wanted. But in times like those when she watched her family laugh and enjoy each other, and when she compared her children to others, she felt silly for worrying about how they would turn out. They were doing just fine, and she couldn’t be more proud.