By Jessica Whitehouse 

Short Story #2 In The Series of “Life with Jess And Friends”

 While digging through the contents of my purse, aka, the Black Hole, a penny fell out. It was corroded, flattened, and poor Abraham Lincoln was almost unrecognizable. I could barely make out the year but when I could, I realized we both had something in common. We were both made in 1979! Wow, did I look this beat up? Jaded edges, lost my shine, been run over a few too many times, all the while wondering if I still have value? Did I just find my spirit penny? Welcome to 2020 little ragged penny! The year where the ‘new normal’ can easily be replaced with the ‘new crazy.’

Ready or not, in the last month we kicked off the start of back to school for students. Collectively, parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief—through clenched teeth—while holding our breath, crossing our fingers, and standing on one foot, in anticipation of the unknown. Reports quickly began popping up of positive cases followed by school closures and the fear among everyone who may be quietly (or not so quietly) saying, “Oh dear, what have we done? Did we push the 2020 gods too far?”

But if there are any silver linings to school starting in our household, it will be the necessary break up of my 9-year-old daughter and her addiction with Roblox, TikTok, YouTube and her love of sitting around in a t-shirt and underwear all day. The teen will also have to wean herself from hours of Snapchat and giggling with friends until the wee hours of the morning. We look forward to daily showering and personal hygiene making a comeback.

Yes, the number of hours my kids have spent on their devices this spummer break (the past six months of spring/summer break blended into one hellacious nightmare) is rather embarrassing. Every evening, my husband would announce how many hours our kids had been on their devices as if Bob Barker was going to pop out of our closet telling us what prize we won for being such terrible parents. Sadly, no one won a new car and if parenting were a grade in school, we would definitely get a big fat ‘F.’

But alas, we can certainly get a pass for shoddy parenting as we have all spent the last few months just trying to get by and, not for nothing, but 2020 has given everyone a new, “Anything goes!” demeanor (as we all cry inside). I am, however, slightly hopeful that my child’s love of gaming will only lead her down a path of computer science, and not a life of hacking into somebody’s bank account to get more coin to feed her Roblox addiction.

With the return of school comes a small amount of normalcy and while things are still ‘Insane in the Membrane’ in a Cypress Hill sort of way, there have been some positives to the new crazy.

Here is my Top Three List of the Good Things that have come from the global pandemic:

    1. The return of family dinners. A time when we can reflect on the day together as a family over a meal. A time to bond. Share. Relax. Unwind. Some nights… But other nights, the reality goes like this: My nine-year-old comes to the table and immediately declares, “I’m not hungry.”

“Seriously, you will eat every little green bean because you like green beans and you don’t like much and I have cooked them for you and you have only eaten goldfish crackers all day and you will eat them if it’s the last thing you…”

<Me: Glancing over at the teen as I hear a photo being snapped as she is staring at the screen with lip glossed puckered up Kim Kardashian fish lips.>

“Can you please put the phone down and stop snapping photos with your friends for 30 seconds or how about 30 minutes…”

<Looking back at the youngest who…wait, where the heck did she go???>

“Come sit down and eat these green beans!!” “But I just said, I’m not hungry!!” she yells back as she is halfway up the staircase.

Repeat this cycle about three more times and you will find me surfing the web later Googling things like: When is the international travel ban lifted on <insert some faraway location> so I can plan my next “vacation.”

    1. Hair Cuts – COVID Style. With the closure of hair salons, we bravely decided to hand over the scissors and clippers to my teen and assigned her the role as the new family hairdresser. I know many women who would never dream of handing over their hair styling needs to a teen, but the good news is, it’s just hair, she lives for this stuff, and it’s 2020 – I don’t care (refer back to the aforementioned “Anything goes!” demeanor). Yet I should confess the amount of power she bestows over us while holding those scissors and our hair during those few minutes is slightly terrifying…I know better than to say anything but kind, loving things to her while she happily snips away because I’ve had bangs before, and nobody needs them to make a comeback. It is important to note that this offer does not extend if (when?) she decides to pursue becoming a tattoo artist. Nope, I draw the line at less-than-permanent haircuts and will not succumb to being her personal test dummy for everything in life. That is what her friends are for.
    2. New life adventures.  When I was a kid, my mom would ask me, “A penny for your thoughts.” I would reply, “For a quarter, I’ll talk.” (Yes, even back then, I was a little smarty pants.) Much like a penny flipped in the air, 2020 landed tails down like a bad luck charm that the entire world accidentally picked up. But maybe you made the best of a bad situation. Maybe you were creative and put your time to good use learning new skills. Maybe you had newfound time to get projects done. Took up a new hobby. Or maybe, you are just getting through each day the best you can. Perhaps this is the time we should talk less and listen more (and watch Hamilton!). So, I listened to that little voice in my head and am taking some time to start writing again. And then took my little dream one step further to contact the South Lake Tablet to have my stories published. A move I had lamented over months and one day found the courage to take this tiny—yet personally frightening—leap into the unknown.

So, I hope you enjoy reading my silly life stories and they bring you a few moments of laughter, particularly if you are going through a hard time. In time, we will all land heads up again.

But until then, family dinners really are great. You should try them. I recommend the green beans.

Short Story #1Decision, Decision 

About Life with Jess & Friends

Jessica Whitehouse, aka Jess, is a lifestyle writer and creator of Life with Jess & Friends. Her mission is to bring lighthearted humor to life situations including family, parenting, relationships, career, and all things in between. For more information, email

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