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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘The Full Suburban’: Sweet and sassy teen is 15 in a nutshell

Jane Ditto  (Julia Ditto)
Jane Ditto (Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

Fifteen. Fifteen was always the number I had in my head any time my daughter Jane would throw a tantrum, create drama or say something sassy as a little girl.

“If she’s like this now, can you imagine what she’ll be like when she’s 15?” I would whisper to Logan as we both stared at our daughter, eyes wide.

In my mind, 15 years old was when a teenage girl was at her sassiest, her most rebellious, her most angst-ridden. And I was terrified of the levels that Jane could reach – our little girl who was already full of sass and drama, even before she could tie her shoes.

The years ticked on and childhood turned into tweens and then teens, and finally, a couple months ago, Jane turned the dreaded 15. The day after her birthday was a Saturday – a day synonymous in our family with chores and chaos. I had spent part of the morning dealing with some tantrum and slamming-of-doors nonsense from one of her younger brothers (who shall remain nameless). I was worn out, frustrated and feeling a little dismal about the future of my offspring.

In the midst of this despair, Jane came down the stairs to where I was standing. She had just finished all of her chores without complaint and had been quietly reading in her impeccably cleaned bedroom, because –like any normal 15-year-old – she enjoys tidiness. She was happy, smiling, and looking forward to an afternoon of shopping with one of her friends.

I looked at her and realized she was now the age that I had once dreaded. But instead of becoming all the things I’d feared, she was wonderful.

“Jane, thank you for turning out so great,” I said, to which she narrowed her eyes suspiciously and gave a long “Okaaaaay” – by which, of course, she meant, “Okaaaaay, weirdo.” And we were back.

Obviously, as wonderful as she is, my Jane is still the personality-plus, clever, sassy, dramatic and opinionated girl she’s always been. And she definitely comes with her fair share of teenage angst.

Take, for example, her reaction to our family’s summer job policy. Logan and I have a rule that our teenagers can either find a job in the summer or they can work for us for free. We use the term “job” very liberally; it could be a normal minimum-wage job, or something like babysitting, putting on a day camp for little kids, making treats and selling them to family and friends, doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, and so forth.

Jane has not felt the drive to become a money-earning machine this summer, so she has been doing all sorts of things around the house for me: entertaining her little brothers, putting away stray camping gear, vacuuming long-forgotten crevices, folding weeks’ worth of laundry, etc.

All this had been met with only mild-to-moderate complaint until a few days ago, when I apparently went too far by asking her to weed the front yard and clean out the garage, all in one day.

A teenage girl can only take so much. Jane started looking at job postings online immediately. One business in particular caught her eye, and she eagerly read through the job requirements: must be able to lift zero to 50 pounds (“I’m pretty sure I can lift zero pounds,” she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes as she read on); responsible; at least 15 years old; excellent customer service skills. Check, check, check and check … until …

“Must be energetic and enthusiastic,” she read. “Ugh! Why???” I just laughed.

“Looks like you’re back to cleaning out the garage,” I said, and she glared at me, her face saying it all: “Okaaaay, weirdo.”

Yup. Definitely 15.

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