No Longer the Quiet One in the Room

“They’re really old and really white.” That was the first thing Jared, our Little Brother, said about us after meeting for the first time. Little did we know we’d still be hanging out together nineteen years later.

If we were to travel back in time, we’d see me, Jeane, getting antsy about doing more in the community. While serving on a committee or a Board of Directors is gratifying, it wasn’t quite the tangible experience I was seeking.

Having previously been a Big Sister in Cincinnati, I knew the program was impactful, but I hadn’t experienced it as part of a Big Couple. To be transparent, I “volun-told” my husband, Jay, that we were signing up to get a Little. I knew we were likely to get a boy since the Big Brother/Big Sister waitlist has more boys than girls, and Jay was excited by the prospect of sharing his love of sports with a young person. (Spoiler alert: that did not happen.)

Jared was about eight years old when we were matched. (He’s now 27.) Over the years, we did mundane things together, like weeding the yard. We did amazing things together, like taking a plane ride in a 4-seater via the Young Eagles program. Cooking was a group favorite, trying new recipes and always sending Jared home with leftovers. Dane County is a great place for free events, like the Farmer’s Market, MMoCA, and summer festivals, so it was easy to balance outings that didn’t involve spending money with the occasional visit to a fun restaurant.

When Jared was young, he was on the quiet side. But he and I would bore Jay to death with celebrity gossip or theorizing how the Cullen vampires attended high school for eternity. Jared is no longer the quiet one in the room. He has an amazing sense of humor, is a supremely talented drag queen (shout out to Jasper Madison, his stage name), and a joy to be around.

Through this experience, we hope Jared has seen that there are people in this world who do show up for you, and that there are many ways to create a family. That the movie “Heathers” is truly the original “Mean Girls.” We’ve learned to love Nicki Minaj, realize we have zero fashion sense, and that when there’s a fruit smoothie around, you take it.

If you are thinking about being a Big, I’d be more than happy to chat about our experiences. Drop me a note at The smoothie is on me!

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