I have referred in the past to “Jolene,” and it seemed appropriate to me that I should post about the origin of the saying while we are on vacation in Palm Springs. You see, that’s where it all began three years ago. Some of you know my two sons, J & S (remember, I’m supposed to be protecting their identities by only calling them by their Dostoevskyan initials… which is fine and all except that I always forget). The title of Jolene has been applied to each of them over the past few years, but it came about because of American Idol and J.
J is, and always has been, a fairly even keel kid. He doesn’t get super amped or come unglued or really have those extremes much. He’s not easily ruffled and just generally goes with the flow most of the time. Because of that, it was a pretty big shock when we were on Spring Break and we found out that somewhere inside him had been hiding this whiny, little, irrational, 13 year old girl.
Sorry for the stereotype, but it provides the right image… and, it’s where the name came from. We were watching American Idol that year and there was a contestant one of those nights that sung the song, Jolene (sung here by Reba McEntire). Because it was a catchy tune, a female name, and started with the same letter as J’s name, we started calling him that when things such as the following occurred…
1. Our request that J put on more sunscreen would be met with crying, “why do I have tooooo?” We’d offer to put it on his back and he’d get mad…”I can do it myself!” Followed immediately by whining, “why doesn’t anyone ever help meeeeee?” Then S would try to be helpful and J would lash out at him.
2. J would be obviously tired and say he was going to bed. If we said okay, he’d get angry and say “why do I have to go to bed already?!?” Then, we’d say okay, stay up for a bit or go to bed and read. He’d get mad and say, “I’m tired; why do I have to stay up and read?!?” We’d tell him that either was fine and he’d get angry and want to know why he had to decide what to do. Then, when we told him which to do, he’d get upset with whatever we said.
3. S would ask J if he wanted to get in the pool and J would get ticked off that he asked him that way.
4. And so on…
It became truly was comical! J was so far from rational that it was just hard not to laugh at him. Totally ridiculous. Poor S, though. He didn’t understand at all and just wanted to know what demon had possessed his brother and how to get it out. It was hard on him too because J was inconsistent. J could go all day with no outburst and be totally fine, then flip out at nothing.
We explained to S, that J was getting to an age when his hormones were going into a little overdrive and just messing him up a bit. We explained that it was nothing personal and that in general, if he just left J alone when he got like that, it would pass pretty quickly. There was no point at all in trying to reason with him because it was largely a hormones issue. S nodded thoughtfully a lot and that was all that was said about it.
At one point later in the week, though, S was feeling a little crabby about something and he looked at me very seriously and informed me that he might “just have a little bit of hormones.” I cracked up! At which point, S started laughing too, although I don’t think he had any idea why. That ability to let go of whatever is ticking them off and laugh is one of my two boys’ greatest gifts. J had an awful lot of that week when he was just fine, but those few times when he wasn’t were really impressive. And, he did a good job of laughing at himself in the end… to the tune of “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jo-le-ee-ene….”