You know how you say you’re never going to be like your parents, but then you have four young children and one day realized that maybe they knew something you didn’t? This is kind of like that. It’s also just another example of really horrible parenting but I’m claiming it anyways.

My husband used to lament about his traumatic childhood. He is the oldest of five children, and with two little sisters directly under him he was routinely getting in trouble for being rotten. On days when it was really bad (says he) his parents would put him in the car and drive by the “orphanage,” threatening to leave him there if he didn’t straighten up. He claims that one time they actually made him pack a bag. I can’t be certain, but I think the first time he told me this story he got a little emotional about it. So sad.

The other night I went to a meeting and left the children with Daddy for the evening. I came home just in time to tuck in my girls and say prayers. Georgia, our two-year-old, prayed this: “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day, please bless that Jethro won’t come here, or be under my bed, and that Jethro will not come here and he’ll be nice, but not be under my bed. Amen.”

Jethro? Jethro who?

By the time I finished my nightly chores I had forgotten the incident and went to bed without asking dear old Dad if he knew what the baby was so afraid of.

The next morning Rex, seven, woke with a severe stomach ache. He had no other symptoms and I finally weaseled him into telling me what he was so worried about.

“Well,” he said, “I just couldn’t sleep and my stomach hurt all night. I was having nightmares all night about…about that guy, Jethro. I don’t want to talk about it! Don’t talk about it!”

“So,” I said to Jason, “You want to clue me in on who Jethro is?” I relayed the current emotional climate of the household and waited patiently for his explanation.

“Oh, I guess they were listening.”

“Listening?” I asked.

“Well, June was pretty awful last night,” he said. This comes as no surprise, June is five and gets naughty when she’s tired. And when she’s hungry, or bored, or if it’s Wednesday or lunch time, or a holiday, or any other unfortunate moment of the year. Unbirthdays, you know.

“And?” I said.

“And…I got desperate. I had to invent Jethro.”

“Who’s Jethro?”

“Jethro is the man behind the door at my office.”


A few months ago I dropped June off at her father’s office one afternoon for an emergency time-out. He didn’t know what to do with her so he took her to an interrogation room and pointed to the closet door. “You see that door?” She nodded with fear and dread and more than a few tears. “Well, you don’t want to find out what’s behind that door. If I were you I’d listen to your mother and stop pinching your sister or someday you might have to open that door. Got it?” She was an angel for the rest of the week.

“Wait, but who is he?” I asked.

“Well,” Jason said sheepishly, “You remember the scary guy off the Goonies movie? That’s Jethro. We got on the internet and I showed her some pictures, you know, just to give her a good visual. I guess the other kids were listening, sorry about that.”

mike tindall sloth

I don’t know about you, but I can say that for a week now all June (or anybody else) has to do is hear the word “Jethro” and she’s in line faster than a kid in a theme park. One more thing for her to talk about someday in therapy; we’re going to have some serious baggage by the time she’s nine.



  1. Oh. My. Goodness! That is hilarious! I still remember being afraid of “the man under the bed” who was waiting to grab me.. I can’t imagine actually having a face to put to the name!

  2. sues2u2 says:

    lol, creative parenting. I Love it!

  3. Annie, I seriously cannot wait to see your kids in August! Especially June…she cracks me up! She is the funniest little girl…I cannot believe that she is 5! That means at Sun River she was only 3…and Georgia…was a baby! I can’t wait to see Rex and Harrrison too! I will miss seeing you and Jason.

  4. Laura Leseberg says:

    At least June will live long enough to get therapy, thanks to Jethro. My kids are grown and married, but I feel that any week no kid has been on a talk show, is a good parenting week.

  5. I laughed SO HARD!! That is amazing!! The picture seriously put it over the top, I had to stop reading a minute because I was just laughing too much! Great story, maybe I need to implement a Jethro in my house, I’m really sick of the naughtiness…

  6. Thanks for sharing……..I don’t feel so bad for using the vacuum to scare my child. From an early age my son (now 10) was afraid of the vacuum. So if I really needed him to behave all I had to do was get the vacuum out and put it where he could see it. As long as the vacuum was in view he was so well good. I wish it still worked……..

  7. I’m sitting here desperately trying not to laugh because I’m holding a sleeping 7 month old who FINALLY fell asleep and tears of laughter and an occasional squeak keep coming. oh my gosh I can’t wait until morning to show this to my husband