I come from a long line of baby babymakers.

We like to get the business of getting married and having children out of the way, like so much puberty. I sometimes call us “The Pregnant At The Prom Family”, but that’s really only happened once.

We like to get the business of getting married and having children out of the way, like so much puberty. I sometimes call us “The Pregnant At The Prom Family”, but that’s really only happened once. Mostly because who has time to go to prom when there are babies to have and boys to marry? Grandma was 16 and already married when she had my dad, mom was 18 and already married when she had me, my sis was 17 when she had my niece*.

I was 19 when I decided to take the name of another and play a sweaty, teenage version of house and 21 when I first reproduced. Oh, I tried, sooner. Much sooner. Like, before I could vote. But my body refused to cooperate, and by the time I conceived at 20, I was starting to worry that I’d make it to quarter of a century without creating a mini-me. Crisis averted.

So, I went from my parents’ house to the one my new husband and I shared but not without incident. In fact, I could write a sitcom about some of the things that happened in the first few years of my marriage, and it would be funnier than most of what I’ve seen previewed for the major networks’ planned lineup.

For instance, I only knew how to cook two things: grilled cheese and mac cheese. My just-out-of-his-teens young Navy Seaman husband and I nearly turned orange in that first year from the amount of cheese-like products we consumed. And, don’t even think that there wasn’t a whole lot of gastric distress during that time as well. The human body isn’t meant to be sustained on fried bread and nuclear waste-colored powder alone. Oh, and did I mention that I was married to someone who pretended girls didn’t have bodily functions? I spent much time in the bathroom running the shower while I did my business, then I’d stick my head under the stream at the very last minute, wrap my head in a towel, and emerge like I was rejuvenated and refreshed but actually feeling depleted.

I also had no idea how to properly do laundry. I grew up with a stay at home mom who did that sort of thing for me. Mostly. Plus, I had never been that interested in clean clothes–and still am not. Now you know. Anyway, I suddenly had a partner who had to show up to work, everyday, looking perfect. In fact, he was inspected for just such a thing. How many uniforms did I ruin in the beginning? I lost count. I was forever apologizing for bleach accidents, turning whites into pinks, and burning things with the iron.

So here I was: a chubby, pubescent Lucy Ricardo, burning grilled cheeses, burning shirts, and and burning from my backside. I had only just voted in my first election and couldn’t legally drink champagne at my own wedding. I was completely unqualified to live alone, really, never mind take care of another person.

In a recent interview with Women’s Wear Daily, teen superstar Justin Bieber sat down to talk about music, fashion, and life at Dolce Gabbana’s Madison Avenue store (his snacks of choice: were soda, cold cuts, and Swedish Fish and OMGILOVETHOSETHINGSTOO!). He said he wants to start a clothing or shoe line (strike while the Bieber’s hot, kid) and thinks that Kanye West and Usher are “real cool” (duh). He talked about what it was like to “grow up” (though I contend he is still working on that) in geared-to-income housing and how that relates to the charity work he does now ($1 of every ticket sold on tour goes to charity).

When wrapping up the interviewer asked Justin “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” and his answer could hardly be heard over the fawning of girls and the clutching of pearls.

“Well, by 25 or 26, I want to see myself, like, married or start looking for a family. I want to be a young dad. I want to be able to have done what I wanted to do — to be successful, to do a movie or whatever. But if the time is right, I definitely want to be married by 25. One thing — I’m not looking to get married now.”

Though “start looking for a family” sounds like he might be privy to some rich-people-only shop that sells children, prepackaged in 2s, 3s, 4s, or Gosselins, I think what he meant to say was “looking to start a family”.

The media is all in a tizzy about young Justin settling down, prematurely. But, when you start working at such a young age, doesn’t moving on to the next chapter in your life sooner than some others do make sense, anyway? What’s so premature about 25 or 26? Sounds downright ancient to me. If you’re old enough to graduate from college, you’re old enough to make vows to someone (though your cooking skills might be as bad as mine were. you might want to step outside the cafeteria from time to time).

Calm down, pearl clutchers, considering that he’s only 17-years-old, yet a good portion of the world knows his name, The Biebs will surely have lived a full life by 25. Plus, he may change is mind approximately eleventeen times between now and then. Remember how you just KNEW where you were headed when you were 17? Am I Miss America now? No. Because things change.

Maybe we could back up and let this kid become a man, making the decisions and mistakes that have to be made for maturity to be reached. Let’s let him fall down on his Dolce Gabbana-covered ass, dust himself off, and learn the lessons that he needs to, to figure out who he is. My guess is, with music and movies and a clothing line and the world at his feet, 25 might come and go before he knows it. As it does for most of us. And, marriage? Sometimes marriage is just one of those decisions and mistakes that have to be made for maturity to be reached. Or so I hear. I’ve had three of those and am still burning grilled cheeses.

*Remind me to tell you about how she wore my dress to her prom and it made me sad because I wasn’t pregnant, just fat at my prom, and she was about to give birth and my dress fit her perfectly.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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