Growing Up Stupid by Adrian Ayotte

From the book:

We learned early on that if we were going to do stupid things, it was best done where Mom couldn’t see them.

With twelve kids, Mom’s hands were pretty busy, so we took advantage of her preoccupation to explore and adventure. Our rural farm in central Maine provided ample opportunity for us to use our imaginations to entertain ourselves. My brother Conrad said that in hindsight, some of these antics were just plain stupid.

Growing up in a large family had its challenges. Sure, there was no lack of playmates, but there was also no privacy. There was no such thing as going to your room to be alone, because your little brother would be sitting there breathing your air. We had to learn to get along because there wasn’t space enough to do otherwise. There are a few heartaches that interrupted the many laughs. Dad’s death left Mom with twelve kids to raise on her own. Her determination to keep the family together against staggering odds is a testament to her strength and character.

Mom’s reaction to our shenanigans was typically subdued. She was quiet and never raised her voice. Yet she could send shivers down your spine with a raised eyebrow. Her control of the family was complete and absolute. Growing Up Stupid is an homage to the woman who persisted in teaching us the important lessons in life on the one hand, while we tempted fate with the other.

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