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Ode to the teenagers

TAGS: Farm Life
Photos by Holly Spangler Caroline and her balloons
ALL SMILES: Caroline really wanted to get close to the balloons, with the help of her siblings. See below for the behind-the-scenes reality.
Farm parents, don’t let anyone scare you: Teenagers are pretty awesome, especially on a road trip.

Some 14 years ago, I loaded up my 2-year-old daughter and 9-month-old son and made the 240-mile trek from our farm in western Illinois to my parents’ farm in southern Illinois. It was for a friend’s wedding in September, so my farmer husband stayed home.

I figured, no biggie. I’ve got this.

I was wrong.

It’s about a five-hour drive without stops, but with a baby and a toddler, it was more like 9 hours. Or 937. The toddler was potty training and the baby was eating solid food and taking a bottle, which meant every stop took an hour. At least.

Somewhere around Taylorville, I wondered if we’d ever actually make it home. Maybe we’d just be stuck in fast food highchairs and bathrooms forever.

Somewhere around Springfield, I vowed, as God as my witness, never to make that trip alone again.

But lo and behold, those kids grew up. And I started making the trip alone again.

Like a couple of weekends ago. The kids, who are now 17, 15 and 12, and I headed south for a few days. It was not only pleasant, it was downright hilarious.

Because those babies and toddlers have grown into delightful people. They have a grasp on pop culture, really good one-liners and spot-on comedic timing. They like each other (don’t tell them I said that).

Did I have to yell into the backseat to stop touching each other? Yes. Let’s be real. But only a couple of times, which is not bad for 480 miles.

Before we left Albion to head back home, we stopped at the painted murals on the square, added to some brick walls where a building used to be. We took pictures, they were silly, we laughed hard. They cracked me up.

Caroline gets a boost from brother Nathan while Jenna gives instructions
REALITY: Nathan’s also known as the best sport in the family, as Jenna directed operations and Caroline began to question her decisions in life.

Moms of littles, don’t let anyone scare you: Teenagers are exhausting in a different way. But dang, they’re fun.

Comments? Email holly.spangler@farmprogress.com.

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