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A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

God’s Mysterious Ways Often Become Clear to Those who Wait

I was born in Florida and grew up in Memphis. I always took pride in the fact that I was born where my father was born, and while I am proud of the music heritage Memphis has, the town always left me disappointed in almost every other area. Racism is in the DNA, the politics and general mindset are archaic and mired in a ditch, and crime is stratospheric. Education is teetering over the abyss, and job opportunities are scarce.

There are thousands of world-class musicians and artists, but in order to be heard by the world one must leave.

As a child, my parents stressed education and diversity of interests. We had books on a wide array of subjects — geography, animals, trees, national parks — and we were given an appreciation of things like nature and solar systems and music and vocabulary and sports and writing and drawing. I wanted that for my progeny as well. The kids with whom I grew up had the most mundane desires and often ridiculed me for liking “white boy stuff” like books and chess and the like. And it was only because I had parents who were teachers and who values education and home-training that I could represent myself fairly well when speaking formally.

Once I got married and had kids, my wife and I always hoped to move to Nashville so that she could have better employment choices and so that the children would not have to go through what I went through. But I wasn’t going to move with no musical contacts and have to wind up getting a job in a factory or a call center somewhere. I wanted to be established first.

Before we moved here to Las Vegas, work was drying up like water in the Serengeti in June. I want to be this famous saxophone player and songwriter, and Memphis was showing itself to not be the place for ME. People just don’t call sax players first for jobs. We are non-essential extras. Kathy was on maternity leave and didn’t want to go back to that dead-end job, and finding a new one — even though she is a college graduate — was proving impossible. Bills were piling up with no prospects of being paid… Life was miserable. We were constantly knocking on God’s door begging for assistance with waning faith.

The best thing about Memphis for us was our church and our families.

My daughter and youngest son have eczema (it had taken a lot of Diana’s hair, and her skin was always breaking out), and my eldest son has problems with all the pollen and such in Memphis. We were also wondering about how they would develop when they started school. I’m a proud product of the public school system, but things are so different now… Homeschooling was not an option for many reasons. I wanted my kids to be broad-minded but proud of their heritage and culture, and Memphis is such a racially polarized town.

Fast forward to now:

Everyone is FLOURISHING!

I have worked in Vegas numerous times over the years, and I never was overly impressed — not being a gambler. The Strip is beautiful, but I thought once you got past that, there was nothing else to see. How wrong I was!

This is a wonderful place! Mountainous (which I always wanted) and picturesque. There is actually an attractive quality to the desert. And there are a thousand things within a few hours’ drive… The Grand Canyon, San Diego,  Hollywood, Hoover Dam, San Francisco, Yellowstone, Yosemite…

The area is incredibly diverse, so my kids won’t have to suffer life in a racist fishbowl to the degree that I did (although…). And they will have interests that extend beyond the usual — TV, video games, and a 9 to 5. They will see so many things that we wouldn’t have been able to afford to show them.

The area is spread out enough that a good neighborhood is not one block away from a bad one like back home. The architecture is interesting, and the weather is more to my liking because I HATE being cold!! And there are more work opportunities for me here if my current gig plays out. I make three times what I made back home, where saxophone players are considered “options” like heated seats in a car, or 50 inch plasma televisions, or shiny, spinning rims.

I feel exactly like a biblical figure saved by God from a famine, a flood, or a fire. He got us out of a place that — for us — was becoming desolate and depressing. He uprooted us and lined events up in so obvious a way that we had no doubt that God was orchestrating them. And then, He showed us what would have been. It is almost spooky, knowing that there is actually Someone else — who we cannot see — in the room doing stuff! God changed so much for us! We paid off our car early, got my son in a great school, got a second vehicle big enough for all of us, and we got a bigger, more comfortable home with nice amenities. Diana’s hair is thick and full, her skin is soft, and Max doesn’t have nearly the issues with allergies as back home. My kids are blossoming before our eyes like dogwoods. Kathy is exercising — even running — and is much, much happier with life than she was a year ago.  And we both have drastically changed our eating habits in order that we may be here for the kids. Little to no salt and sugar, smaller portions, no sherbet :-(, no candy, and no fatty foods.  We have both lost a lot of  lbs. in the past three months. I’m actually writing this between weightlifting sets…

All this came from my saxophone, which was another answered prayer.

But there is a problem… In order to achieve all this we had to move 1,600 miles away from every single person we love! It is incredibly difficult to juxtapose missing mothers, fathers, siblings, church members, and best friends with the advantages existent here. It is like our arms are running while our legs are walking leisurely.

We used to have Sunday dinners at my parents’ house weekly. They got to see the kids on a regular basis, something I never had with MY grandparents and always wanted for my children. Moving so far away meant that they would no longer be able to see the children grow up and develop. They would not be able to see them at the drop of a hat. That alone made this the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. While my folks are happy for us, I KNOW they’re heartbroken but won’t admit it. In order to function, I have to try to not dwell on it too much…

Before I got married, I saw my parents five or six times a week. I would come home from road gigs and go to their house in the middle of the night and sit at the foot of their bed in the dark and tell them stories about what happened and we would just laugh… Once I got married, though, I stopped all that in order to be true to the biblical mandate to “leave and cleave.” But we still had Sundays when we, my sisters, and my nephews would all get together after church. I had a weakness for Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream, and Mom knew that and kept a ready supply for me in her freezer. I treasured those days and never thought about them ending.

But I think about biblical times when, if a family moved away — as so many did — it could mean they would NEVER see their loved ones again! At least we have planes now. My parents moved away from their childhood homes — my father moved almost as far away as I did. That, in part, was why I wanted my kids to have relationships with their grandparents, since I never really did.

Weighing the pros and cons, though, tipped the scales in favor of the move. There were just TOO many signs, answered prayers, and obliterated obstacles! And I couldn’t show myself to be the true head of this family if I couldn’t bear the excruciating pain of leaving “Mama” to give them a better life. I’m not naive! I KNOW this is Vegas with all its attendant pitfalls and dangers. But you should know — as I now do — that Las Vegas is waaay more than The Strip!

I feel stressed sometimes, as the Disciples and the wandering children of Israel did even in the very presence of God, but He has shown Himself  gracious and faithful. My job is precarious in the sense that I have only EVER been fired by THIS particular organization, but God is bigger than all that, and if He brought us out here which He obviously did, He did not do so as some cruel trick knowing what all is at stake… Following Him is like riding out on the wing of an airplane; frightful but exhilarating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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May 25, 2011 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, God, God's Hand, Life, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenthood | 7 Comments

Kid Slaps Mother. When is the Funeral?

Okay, by now, you’ve probably either seen or heard of this… This kid slaps his MOTHER!!!

The first thing I did when I saw this was blame the mother — that’s right, the mother — for creating an environment where her kid THOUGHT that he could slap Mommy and survive. I could rant on all night about this, but perhaps I won’t…

This is another problem with the Oprahfication of America. We have to tell ourselves that the best way to raise children (whose brains don’t even function fully properly until well past puberty) is to REASON with them!! Adults reason. And even then, not always successfully!

This mother is being all nice and calm while the offspring of her body is flying apart.

I’ll tell you what — if any of my children (or anybody else’s) swing at me on camera, I’ll erase them and start drawing new ones!

There’s an analogy I heard a long time ago that I apply in rearing my kids: A man was at the circus and noticed that the elephants  — full-grown behemoths — were chained to wooden stakes that were hammered into the dirt. They could have easily pulled them up, but the slightest tension made them give in and stay put.

The visitor asked their trainer how this was possible.

“Simple,” he replied. “When the elephants are babies, we chain them to stakes that are embedded in the ground too deep for them to pull up. By the time they are strong enough, their memory of not being able to pull them up supersedes their knowledge of their abilities.”

One day my sons will be bigger and stronger than I. So I have to be invincible in their eyes in order that they don’t try me. There has to be fear until there is respect.

I thought my father would literally beat me to death if I challenged him. I thought he was crazy. (he was.) When I grew up and mentioned that to him, he laughed and told me that that was exactly the objective. I had to think that if I exceeded his boundaries, the price to pay would be final. That kept me away from drugs, theft, cutting classes, sneaking the car keys, drinking, sex… All the egregious sins, until my sense of not wanting to disappoint my parents was all I needed to basically keep me in line.

They reasoned with me only to the point that I was able to understand. I was not allowed to ask them where they were going when they left the house, or why I had to eat certain detestable foods, or “why” anything else they chose to have me do. I was allowed to voice my concerns and speak my mind, though, within certain limits.

I could not interrupt them when in conversation, and I could not join in adult tete a’ tetes. But they engaged me and respected my personhood — within limits.

Kids have a place. That is a dead notion, I know, but it is alive in my household, and never will a child of mine even bring to mind the idea of hitting ME! And my WIFE is the crazy one!!

There are worse things in the world than a butt-whupping, and this kid is going to experience a lot of them.

Raise your kids, folks! They are not born grown, and you do a disservice to them to treat them as though they are. Would you fly in a plane piloted by a person who only watched instructional films to learn how? Why, then, do you let Oprah tell you how to bring up children?

You watched that video and got mad at the boy. Well, I submit that he is only a product of his environment, and is functioning as designed.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Discipline, Kids, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, Parenthood, Parenting, Spanking | 7 Comments

When God’s will and mine, serenely intertwine

I have three sisters. No brothers. ALWAYS wanted one.

My father, who was raised as an only child and found out at age 35 that he was adopted, had three sisters and no brothers. One of them had died when they were in high school.

That is a long, good story that Kathy insists I write down.

I have a cousin whom I first met back in the late eighties. He and his wife, Shelene, own a martial arts training studio in Pasadena, Ca. Were he alive now, he would be in his early sixties and would look maybe 38.

He made a profound impact on me from the first. When I did a series of  gigs out west back in ’92 (during L.A. riots), he came and got me and showed me the sights and introduced me to family who treated me like a visiting dignitary. I will NEVER forget that. A few years later, he did the same thing, taking me to Venice Beach, his studio, Rose Bowl stadium, and many other places. We almost hit Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he pulled out in front of us.

He was a multiple-degreed black belt martial artist in many different disciplines, and trained with Bruce Lee. He trained English Mastiffs and Rottweilers to respond to hand signals! Very impressive! And with all of this, he was the most mild-mannered, peaceful dude you’d ever seen!

He and Shelene met Kathy soon after we were married at a family reunion that I missed because I am known for not missing gigs. (I missed out on a lot of things because of that. I’m going to change.)

They swept her up and made her like one of their own! But Kathy has a personality that will do that to you…

A couple of years ago, they said he had cancer. But when I talked to him, he said everything was fine. Never thought I would never see him again.

His death hit me harder than anything I had ever felt. I have been blessed to have all my cousins, both parents, all but one uncle, and all of my aunts still here. My mother’s father died when I was a child. I was grown when my grandmothers died, but one was in her nineties and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and the other… long, tough story.

I could not go to the funeral. It was in L.A., and I couldn’t afford a ticket, and I had to work. But really, I just couldn’t bear to see my cousin not alive when I still had so many things to learn from him. The funeral was broadcast online, and while Kathy watched it and said how beautiful it was, I couldn’t do it. I lay in the other room — in earshot — and cried so hard my head hurt. All day. Between bouts of vomiting because Max had gotten me sick when he threw up all over me three days earlier. (And I had to go to work.)

His name was Steve Hearring.

 

I don’t think anyone in this entire world loves my daddy as much as I do. And I know he’s flawed. Who isn’t? But, as with God, my cousin, and all my heroes, I admire strength and power. That’s why leopards, bulls and rhinos are my favorite animals. And my father epitomizes strength and power.

Despite the rough time I had growing up (which is a positive story in light of the way things turned out between us) I always sought his approval and respect. I heard the stories about the things he did as a boy and as a man, and I wished I could be as tough and as calm. Indulge me one story…

Back when he was in his twenties, as a high school coach, he and his team had an Away game against a heated rival. My mother, known for her tactlessness in awkward situations, was — according to her — talking some trash in the stands.

Apparently, one of the guys behind her took offense. Someone pointed him out and whispered to my mom that he had a gun and ill intentions toward her. When the game ended (Home team won), my mother made her way to the locker room with the guy following her through the crowd. When she got to the locker room and walked in sheepishly, my pop, who was mad about the team losing and in no mood for foolishness, asked her what she was doing there. She NEVER went back there.

Out of fear for the OTHER guy(!) she refused to say. He made her tell him. Mom pointed the guy out still lurking outside the locker room.

Daddy acted out for me what he did next: Ma had an umbrella — the kind with the point on the end. He, unarmed otherwise, took it from her and went to find the dude.

The thug had his right hand in his pants pocket and Pops figured he was holding the gun. He went up to the guy, grabbed a handful of wrist and pants (He almost sprained mine acting this out. Adrenaline…) so he couldn’t get the gun out!, shoved the umbrella deep up into the soft meat under the guy’s chin and proceeded to threaten his very life with well-chosen words that I can’t repeat! He held the guy until the cops got him, and there was indeed a gun in his pocket!

It was all so unbelievably smart and strong! Even with his finger practically lifting me from the ground, I was smiling HARD! “That’s MY Daddy!” I thought! “Did I inherit any of those guts?” My daddy was like a cross between 007 and Jim Brown!

I’ve got a bunch of those stories — all true — and he won’t even tell me any more. He is so understated and modest about it all, saying that he was just crazy.

He was the biggest, the strongest, the toughest, the bravest, and the fastest, according to those who grew up with him. Yet he stressed reading and learning with my sisters and me. As did my mother. He took pride in figuring things out, he loves brain teasers and The Discovery Channel.  He got up every day and went to work, sometimes spending too much time working his players. They would have basketball practice at 5 AM before school AND after school. But he single-handedly turned them from chronic losers to winners.

He never called in sick, he taught me how to use wrenches and how to box. He taught me stuff that I don’t have the heart to do unless my life is threatened. He made me do push-ups, lift weights, run track, and fight when scared.

He hated, I’m sure, when I focused more on model cars and cartoons and being in the band than trying out for teams, but he loves it now. He was hard! Hard as steel.  Scared me to DEATH!! But he changed.

He learned and I learned. And from the first time I knew what it meant, I always said that I wanted to name my son not after ME, but after him! His name is Horace.

My wife had a very bad time as a child with her father. She says he wasn’t really one at all. From the moment she met my parents, she loved them to death. She raves about how great her in-laws are. But she loves my daddy to the point that I sometimes feel that I have not a wife, but a fourth sister as it relates to him. She sees him as HER father, and is not ashamed to tell it.

 

I love Diana more than my life. But when Kathy got pregnant this current time, I prayed hard for it to be a son. I never had that brother I longed for, and I wanted Max to have someone with whom to stand back-to-back in this sickening world. I wanted him to have that thing that brotherhood means.

I wanted Diana to have two boys to keep the fools at bay! I wanted to be a little bit like Jacob with all those sons.

And I wanted to give my father that legacy. I wanted his name to continue.  Since he was adopted, he was the only Williams. And until I got married and had Max, it was looking pretty bleak for the team! But God apparently said otherwise…

Now we can be sure that there will be more Williamses.

My sisters all named their kids after their maternal grandfather — which is cool! But what about my daddy?

And Kathy, having loved Steve so much for the same reasons I did, saw this as an opportunity to honor what she described as two honorable and strong men. She has already said that the new baby has the pressure of keeping that great name clean!

Two weeks ago, in a dark room, God granted our sweated prayers! We are having a boy. And it means so much more than just having somebody to throw to and wrestle with and teach about girls and smoothness and heartbreak and fidelity (although it is all of that, too!). It means that God actually DOES know me, and LIKE me, and that He does actually act in my life. He is faithful and true!

And if this minor thing is real, I shudder at the thought that He DID create the universe and that He meant — means — all that stuff in the Bible! He is not an illusion or a figment. He is my friend. In every profound way. I am undone.

With that, we await the healthy arrival of Steven Horace Williams!

I’ve got so much to tell him!

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Baby Names, Birth, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Heroes, Jesus, Kids, Parenthood, Parents | 2 Comments

God… One Egg. Three Yolks.

The past few months saw God step into my life and circumstances in tangible ways which amazed and humbled me. I have written about some of it… my horn situation comes immediately to mind.

He has provided me with gigs just when I needed them, He worked me through that nasty KWEST (jazz band) thing, He has counseled me in marital situations (more people oughta try this!), and He gave me another SON(!!!!) — about which I will post separately.

All of that set the stage for what happened to my family and me Tuesday.

Generally speaking, everybody loves their kids. No need to go on about who I’d kill and what fast-moving vehicles I would jump in front of about mine.

Max has this thing about coughing and throwing up. He gets it from his mother. He has a hair-trigger uvula. Mopping up his meals has become routine for ME. Kathy won’t do it, or else the house’ll turn into the theater scene from “The Goonies!” But he does not have any asthma or any other diagnosed health problem. He just can’t overeat. And sinus drainage sets him off after time.

Monday night/Tuesday morning I couldn’t sleep. (God) I usually turn in at about 4 AM. I was awake to hear that familiar sound coming from Max’s room. I could tell he was in the launch sequence.

I went in to get him, and as soon as I got him to the bathroom, he let loose.

It tears me up to see him like that and be so helpless. I just pray.

I put him back in the bed and he was fine.

Later that day, Kathy — who didn’t go to work because SHE was sick from being pregnant — was sitting on the couch with him and noticed him wheezing. And the space at the bottom of his throat was sinking in with each breath. (I have two nephews with asthma, so I knew the signs)

She sent him to me to have a look, and what I feared was coming to pass.

Normally, Kathy would have been dozing, but since she was off, she was rested. Usually, Max would have been taking a nap, but for some reason (GOD) I put Diana down and left Max awake. We would never have known!

I would have been gone to work by the time he woke up, but God orchestrated it all so that we would see what was happening.

Let me tell you… when I saw my little boy… wheezing and still smiling… out of breath but playing… I was like cornbread with no eggs in it!! Kathy was tearing up as I made the arrangements for us to take him to a doctor. I had to lie to Max while I got him dressed and while Kathy got Diana together. My son. So little, and such an overwhelmingly big part of my whole world. My son. My SON. Understand?

I had to push all the horrible possibilities out of my mind. No luxury to marinate in what-could-be.

I just prayed. And I told Kathy what I wrote earlier — that all His tangible blessings in the past weeks put Faith in our accounts for withdrawal now. We had seen Him be so true to us, so hands-on, so REAL! And NOW, in the midst of terror, we had to tell Him — and ourselves — that He was the same Person. That He would not operate so clearly in the verses and disappear in the hook!

The end of it is that Max is fine. He has one more day of taking medicines to return his little bronchial tubes and lungs to normal.

MY_boy!

We suspect that he picked up something from a child at church (which irritates me to NO END!!! Don’t take your sick kids to church! They can miss a Sunday!), or else dust or some other allergen in the house set him off.

God is going to HAVE to drive this vehicle for us! As hard as we try to protect our little people from life, we simply can’t. And we cannot live every day in fear of what MIGHT happen to them.

He is faithful!

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Love, Parenthood, Parenting | 1 Comment

Low Commotion

My two- and one-year-olds running around the house tearing up stuff and making a bunch of noise.

Always into something!

Always into something!

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Childhood, Children, Family, Home Life, Humor, Kids, Parenthood, Parenting | 6 Comments

I Need to Get the Baby Language Filter

“What you watchin’, Max?”

“Bunbah Beh-pan, Daddy!”

“What? ‘Bumbah Bed Pan?’ ”

“Nooo! ‘Bunbah Beh-pan!!’ “

“Ohhh. “Sponge Bob Square Pants’!!”

“Yeah!” (can’t you speak English?!?)

I can speak English, but I’m still working on Baby.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Baby Talk, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Life, Max, Parenthood | 4 Comments

Max’s First Story

“Daddy brushed your teeth?” Kathy asked Max, 2 1/2.

“Yeah!” he answered quickly.
Derrick, did you brush his teeth yet?”

“Hunh?” I asked, perturbed at being disturbed from watching “PTI.”

“Did you brush Max’s teeth already?” she repeated.

“Naw.”

“Max,” she scolded him, “You told a story. You have to tell the truth, okay? No stories.”

“Daddy brushed dee teeth! The END!!”

True story.

My boy!  I’m still laughing.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Children, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Kids say the Darndest Things, Laughter, Life, Max, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 3 Comments

How I Learned the Bible

“How you gone just sit there and let all them people in front of you? I got somewhere to be! D&%n Good Samaritan! If you ain’t gone drive it, park it!” exclaimed my father, stuck in traffic behind a courteous slow driver.

“Ohhh.” I thought, putting two and two together… “A ‘good Samaritan’ is someone who helps someone else for no apparent reason.” My parents used to use that one a lot.

“G@d! Je$us! Man, PASS the ball! Quit being so d&%n selfish!!” Shouted my father at Andrew Toney, who played for the Sixers back in the day.

“Ohhh!” I realized, “Jesus is God in the flesh, and He committed the most unselfish act of all. I get it now.”

“If I come in this house and these dishes ain’t washed, It’s gone be Armageddon up in here when I get back!” Said my mother upon reaching the end of the rope.

“Ohhh! Armageddon is the battle that occurs at the end of the world!” I discovered after a few times of failing to meet a deadline due to procrastination…

“I don’t know why you askin’ ME for no money! I’m poor as Job’s turkey!”

“Ohhh!” I gathered. “Job was a man, like Daddy, who had had a lot of kids, and was incredibly poor at some point. And if HE didn’t have nothing, you KNOW his turkey was broke! Sorry for asking, Dad.”

Great teachers I had.

(How I learned Civics) “Bring less than a ‘B’ in here if you want to! It’s gone take a act of Congress to pull me off you!!”

(How I learned what color rice was)“Boy! If you don’t turn off that TV and do your homework, I’mma be on you like white on rice!!”

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, God, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

45 Years and Counting…

Happy Anniversary, guys! Thank you for sticking it out when so many don’t. When marriage is seen as something to do, or not do, you have persevered.

Thank you for thinking enough of us to insulate us and to give us two parents who think more of us than of periodic pain. Thank you for being mature and true to your vows to God.

My kids will know that love is more than hugging and kissing — that love is staying and working — and hugging and kissing. They will know because I know because YOU knew. Your children love you, and their children love you.

 

23 Dec 63

23 Dec 63

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seventies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And Now...

And Now...

December 25, 2008 Posted by | Anniversary, Children, Christian Life, Fatherhood, Life, Life Lessons, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 7 Comments

Work and Family: All I Do

Max, Diana, and Ryan   Max       Diana  Work

Sundays @ Neil's  Gotta Be Somebody's Baby!

  I'll Kill a Brick!

                 On the Job

 

KWEST   I've got a better son than my parents have!

Rich, Ryan, DJ, Allissa, Max, and Diana  

Election night. 

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Babies, Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Daughters, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, Home Life, Kids, Life, Marriage, Music, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 6 Comments

‘Res’dent Obama

I just thought this was funny, so I put it on YouTube so I could put it on the blog. This is Max showing me he knows who the new president is. (McCain was, “BoCain”) Kathy and I laughed and laughed!

The last word is not necessarily a commentary on his views, he is just in perpetual potty training mode.

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Boys, Childhood, Children, Humor, Kids, Kids say the Darndest Things, Laughter, Obama, Parenthood, Parenting, Political Humor, Politicians, Politics, Potty Training | 4 Comments

The Truth Fairy

You can tell how old you are by how much you used to get from the tooth fairy. Kind of like gauging the age of a tree by counting the rings.

“Shoot! We’re gonna have to give Max and Diana a dollar a tooth for it to mean anything!” I told Kathy.

I used to get a dime…

October 14, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Kids, Life, Parenthood, Parenting, Tooth Fairy | 5 Comments

What They Taught Me

Boys love their fathers. I am no exception. No one loves his father more than I love mine.

But my mother is equally as excellent in my eyes. They taught me so much — they still do — and now that I am a parent, I want to be the same thing and show the same things to mine.

I know that in this age, it is not as vogue or common to have parents or be parents. If that is you, feel free to change the trend and use my example. There are many more, but these are the ones I can recall.

1 Tough it out. My folks never quit anything. They got up and went to work well or sick every day. I didn’t miss more than a dozen days of school in twelve years.

2 “Don’t let nobody hit you and you not hit ’em back!” My MOTHER told me that before my father got the chance to! Life doesn’t put up with cowards.

3 “Burn the midnight oil.” Ma drilled this into my head. And I saw her raise four kids five and a half years apart from top to bottom while teaching school in the daytime, night school at night, and getting her Master’s degree!

4 Share. Daddy was tight with his Tang (remember Tang?), but to this day, I can’t say, “Ma! That waffle iron is great!” without her trying to give it to me! And when I needed eye surgery in my late twenties and didn’t have the money (I was just starting out as a road musician), my pop paid for it out of his pocket.

5 Know how to fix stuff. My daddy showed me how to work with tools, fix faucets and change alternators. Even though he didn’t have a father to show HIM.

6 Don’t procrastinate. My mother would scold me to death on those perpetual Sunday nights as I wrote my term papers and handed the pages to her to type at three and four in the morning.

7 Be helpful. Be willing to give until it hurts.See number six.

8 Don’t ever hit a girl. I had three big-mouthed sisters. I failed at times, but I got it before it became crucial.

9 Know the answers. My folks stressed education. Bad grades were met with pain, and later with disappointment.

10 Sit up front and shut up unless you have a question. “I’m sendin’ you to school to learn, not to be no clown!” The night before my first day of school.

11 Read. Read everything.

12 Do YOUR job. No matter if no one is looking. Don’t let the next man have to carry your load. Got that from Ma.

13 The worst thing in the world is a thief, and a liar is the second. Ma.

14 Don’t kiss behinds. (I cleaned that one up) Yep. Ma.

15 Family sticks together. If your family member is in a fight, I don’t care if he’s winnin’, you pick up the biggest stick you can find a knock the…Nosy neighbor, Mrs. Burrell to my mother: “Allie, high come I jus’ saw yo’ kids walkin’ up tha street carr’n sticks an’ thangs’?”  I was in a fight up the street.

16 Stay married. No matter what. December 23, 1963 and counting…

17 Don’t argue in front of the kids. Don’t yell. They never did.

18 Don’t be weak. Don’t show fear.

19 Speak up! I still hear my father saying this in my ear!

20 If something’s on your mind, get it off. And be through with it. I get this from my mother. It kills Kathy, but she knows it is a good thing.

21 Nobody’s better than you. But treat them like they are.

22 Don’t half-do a job. (Cleaned that one up, too.)

23 God knows your max. “The Lord doesn’t put more on us than we can bear.” Ma says this to me every time something bad happens. I can’t stand to hear it, but I know she is right.

24 Choose wisely. There was a family that lived on the corner when I was a kid. The husband was always beating his wife up. He would beat her, she would leave him, and every time, she would return. He shot her. She left him, and returned. I remember overhearing the grown folk saying that he was going to kill her one day.

One summer day — I was watching my sisters since my folks were at work on their summer jobs — I was outside on the driveway when I saw the oldest daughter, Cynthia, run out of the house in her night clothes shouting, “He killin’ her! He killin’ her!” She ran across the street to her best friend, Bridget’s house.

Sure enough, there he was, in the living room (the front door was open) stabbing her to death. I was about eleven. I saw it happen. When the police came and got him — he didn’t try to run — he had on white painter’s overalls that were now more red than white.

When my folks got home, my father sat us all down and told us to choose our mates and our friends wisely or else the same thing could happen to us. It’s a cold, hard world.

25 Be loyal, even if they are not. My folks seem to go to a funeral a month now. And when my mother’s rather, I’ll say… “elitist” co-worker got sick, my mother went and served her like a slave, only to have her continue to treat Mom like she was less-than. Ma was confident that SHE did the right thing.

26 Don’t raise brats. My father saw a young child acting bratty and resolved to not let that be the way his kids would act! I can’t stand a brat!!

27 Dance. Be social. If you’re shy, fake it.

28 Don’t let an unlearned lesson come around and hit you in the back of the head. Learn from the past. My mother was abused as a child. She vowed not to treat her children that way, even though that is how the pattern regenerates itself.

29 Fat meat is greazy! Ask your black friends.

30 If you’re gonna fight, don’t talk about it. Do it. In my ninth grade summer, my sisters and I were made to walk, every day, to the park that my father oversaw as his summer job. It was in the serious hood! Kids from all around went there in order to stay out of trouble. My sisters and I were Fauntleroys compared to these kids! It was ROUGH!

In me, they smelled raw meat! I was bullied every day in front of my own father. Being who he was, he must have been thoroughly ashamed of me. It wasn’t that I was scared, I just hated to fight. One kid in particular, Tyrone (his name WOULD be Tyrone, hunh?), made it his mission to build a reputation off of me.

Nothing he did got me to fight. (He never hit me) One day, though, my baby sister was riding a skateboard down a steep hill, and purely to provoke me, he pushed Kim off the board.

Every kid in the park ran up the hill to tell me what happened and to see the fight they knew was coming.

My pops, whose JOB was to keep order, leaned calmly on the monkey bars and watched…

“Yeah, I did it!” Tyrone proudly proclaimed. This was it. Everybody was looking, and I was nearly blind with rage. I put up my guard as daddy had shown me years ago.

Tyrone started swaying confidently, back and forth. “You ain’ gone do nuthin’, punk,” smiling.

Left hook — POW! The world seemed to stop. Tyrone was in the dirt, getting up.

Left hook — POW! He went down again, rubbing his right jaw and blinking back tears. He got up slower this time. He wouldn’t swing. He just stood there with his hands up.

From behind me, I heard a familiar adult voice, “HIT him again! H*ll, HIT him. If you gone fight da**it FIGHT!” His exact words. I turned and looked at my father, the keeper of the peace, urging me on to beat this kid up. “Aw, h*ll! He waved his hand and walked away in disgust.

My heart wasn’t in it, and Tyrone’s heart was in my pocket. It was over. I had won, and hadn’t even taken a lick! I heard the kids who had taunted me all summer consoling Tyrone, ” Man, he didn’t even wanna fight you.”

I thought they would hate me, but they didn’t.

Talking to my father years later revealed that he, in all his ruthlessness, wanted me to beat the brakes off that kid to make up for all that stuff I took all summer. He was proud of me, though.

I had learned: Keep your mouth shut, and don’t put your dukes up until you know you gotta fight. And those who do the most talking often have to eat the most words.

31 Protect your home. I was never more secure than when at home because I knew Daddy was the baddest beast in the forest.

32 Work hard. Don’t make yourself look bad.

33 “Keep your name clean like it was when you got it!” Ma PREACHED that!

34 Don’t bring home no dumb girls. First thing they ever told me about girls.

34 Show love. That’s all they did, and all I try to do.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Boys, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Kids, Life, Life Lessons, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Proverbs, Quips | 4 Comments

This’ll Be Funny in a Few Years

I’ve been quite busy since Diana got here. (When she starts doing stuff, I’ll be writing about it. She’s just lying there being cute right now.) I haven’t had the freedom to write a frequently as before.

I want to tell you about what has been going on musically lately. Aside from the fact that I have NO movement on my record and starting my band.

I’ve been playing in a band called KW’EST, headed by bassist, Charles Johnson, which plays jazz (fusion) with a Christian focus. This is a different group than the one I gripe about.

We played a gig this past Sunday night that we do at the same place on the third Sunday of every month. The last date was interesting because of everything that went on surrounding it.

When Diana was born, I pretty much did all the nighttime stuff (and much of the daytime stuff, too) because Kathy was recovering from a c-section. Being a night owl made it a little bit easier until the weekends came and I had to work. Most of my work starts on Fridays, but occasionally there is work during the week, too. Plus, there are always some rehearsals and sessions that come up… Sunday mornings were especially rough because I play in the band there, and we have to be there at 8 AM and play both services. We are usually through at about 12:30. I got NO sleep on Saturday nights (not one minute!) because Diana required a lot through the night. She was not happy with being out of the womb! And the foreclosure crisis and astronomical gas prices had her so upset that she could not sleep.

I dealt with this arrangement knowing it would be only a few months before she began to sleep through the night. So on Sundays, I would usually get three or four hours when we all went to my parents’ house for dinner.

When Kathy was set to return to work, however, her shift was changed (this is one of the many dastardly aspects to her job!) yet again. Now, she has to get up at 4:45 AM(!), and so she has to go to bed soon after we really get rolling with family stuff at the house. Our agreement with taking care of Max was that she would do the nighttime stuff, and I would do all the daytime stuff.

Being a person who has always — since childhood — stayed up past two or three in the morning, I had to try to adjust. I have failed. I routinely stay up till past 4 AM against my own will. Obviously, though, my work schedule makes it logical that I watch Max during the day.

“What does this all have to do with music?” you ask. Bear with me.

I quietly made the decision that I would put Max to bed when the time came (he sleeps later than the norm so that I can.), and that I would care for Diana too so that Kathy could get some sleep. She routinely gets about four or five hours.

So, that being the case, I get two or three hours a night on average.

About four months ago, Kw’est booked a recurring gig, and I received three or four cd’s full of music, 95% of which I had to lead. Max won’t let me practice. He tries to climb into my lap every time I pull my horn out, and he pushes and pulls on the keys (and scrunches me in the scrotum, dads) to the point that I can’t get anything done. So when can I learn this catalog of tunes that I have never heard before?

So, to the present. Last weekend ( August 15-16) my family had a reunion in Nashville three hours away.

When my folks — and wife — asked me about going, I said that I would go if I didn’t have a gig. I don’t miss work. I got that from my parents. The band, A-440, in which I regularly (seldomly, lately) play usually has a lot of weddings and private functions this time of the year, and I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t miss one.

As time passed, though, I thought about all the family functions I had missed over the years, and how many of my beloved relatives I had not seen in so many years, and I decided that we would go. I wanted them all to meet my kids, too. I would just have to miss whatever gig came up. So I thought…

Actually, what happened was that three weeks ago someone called me about doing a job, and I said, “I don’t know. I heard we are workin’ that night. Let me call you back in an hour to see if we are.”

I found out that I couldn’t reach the boss because he was on vacation with his family.

When Kathy heard THAT, she flew off the tracks while she was chopping onions; “Awww, so HE gits to go on a vacation with HIS family while his band is sittin’ at the house, huh?!? Y’all ain’t hardly worked all summer, and he’s been constantly workin’ wit everybody! (that was true) You sittin’ around here talkin’ about you not gonna go see your family that you ain’t seen in years, and you gittin’ ready to turn down some work bein’ laid in yo’ lap cause you got integrity! ‘Cause you tryin’ to keep yo’ word!”

“Well, I jus…”

“You betta call him back and tell him you’ll do that gig!!” And that was that on that!

My bandleader is what we black folk call, “triflin’ ” when it comes to handling the business. A-440, I mean. We would routinely not find out about a gig until the day before. And that was if WE called to inquire! Not to mention allll the other stuff that frustrates the “goodness” out of me.

So I decided then to go to Nashville on Friday and return Sunday, the 17th, to make church. I knew I would be tired, but by now, I was used to it. I could get a couple of hours Sunday afternoon before my Sunday night gig with Kw’est. Or so I thought…

Thursday, Kathy and I realized that due to some “financial mishaps” we were waaay short on some bills that were due to be removed from our account on Friday, the 15th.

“I can’t go to the reunion, ” I told Kathy. She refused to go without me. Okay, so now, we aren’t going. I would not get to see cousins I played with as a child. I would not get to see the uncles and aunts who love me so much and whom I love so much in return. This was my knee jerk reaction. After a couple of minutes of thinking, I called the bandleader. Now, by this time I had already told him that I would not be able to do the Saturday night date.

“Hey, John, this is Derrick. You find anybody to sub for me Saturday yet?” I asked.

“Naw. I got some possibilities, but they ain’t called me back yet.”

“Well, call ’em back. I can’t afford to miss Saturday, so I ain’t goin’ to the reunion.” Now, here, I expected a sympathetic reaction something like, “You ain’t goin?!? Aw, man, I hate to hear that. Thass my bad! I know we ain’t been workin’ that much, but I’m gonna do better…”

What I got was: “Aw. Thass cool! I had called Alan, but he didn’t answer the phone. I’ll call him back and tell him ‘thass okay’.” No regret at all in his voice.

“What time does it start,” I asked.

“8:30 at the Germantown Country Club.”

“Cool. I’ll see you then.” I hung up.

When I told Kathy how the conversation went, she made the “Sister Mouth” and said, “Um” skeptically in the back of her throat and left it at that. (Ask your black friend.)

Upon further thought, and council with the Holy Spirit, I decided we would go to the reunion and just leave at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Which was right when everything was getting going good, it turns out.

I made arrangements to get some money till the weekend was over.

So, I was up all night Thursday night to make sure Diana got fed at about four, which I do every night, and Kathy went to work Friday morning. I got about two or three hours of sleep before Max woke up, and when Kathy got home, we packed and left.

I drove through the rain (I got sleepy about thirty minutes in), and we arrived at about ten. We fellowshipped with family, checked into the hotel, and I got to sleep sometime after 1 AM. I thought I would finally get eight hours of sleep. I thought…

Diana, used to that 4 or so AM feeding woke up angrily at five griping about all the negative campaign ads airing on TV. She, being so dependent on outside help, is a Democrat right now.

So after getting four hours of sleep, I wasn’t able to fall back.

I felt like I was going to have a breakdown. We went to the picnic, and as I said, right when everyone was getting settled in for a day (and night) of fun, I packed up my dejected wife and crying son and drove the three hours back to Memphis to do a gig at a place I hate with a band I don’t enjoy for some money which I shouldn’t need but do.

The gig was over at 12:30 Sunday morning, and I had to go buy diapers afterward because both kids were out of them. I got home at about 1:30, and had to at least listen to the material for church Sunday morning and the gig Sunday night, practically every song of which I had to lead. When did I have time to learn these songs? When did I get to sleep? Well, at least I would get a couple of hours after church, right?

On the way home, I got a text message from Charles, the Kw’est bandleader, stating that since the band wasn’t able to rehearse Saturday (I was excused from that one), we would have to rehearse at 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon! No excuses.

Okay. At least I would be able to come back home and get something to eat and maybe lie down for an hour. So I thought.

The saxophone is the quietest instrument in the band, relying on the vibration of a three inch reed to produce the sound. Everything else is amplified electrically except the drums, which are loud enough by themselves. So, in order to be heard in a group setting, I need a microphone!

When we got to the rehearsal, which was at the venue at which we were playing, there was no sound man, so while everyone else had their own amps, I had to resort to simply blowing harder in order to be heard. The drummer asked me to turn and face him because he still couldn’t hear me.

One keyboard player — we have two in the band — neglected to show up till over two hours later. (When I called him at 3:40 to see whee he was, he was at home asleep!) Two problems; HE was the one who needed the most work, AND the rehearsal was supposed to only last for two freekin’ hours!!! Rehearsing during soundcheck is a professional no-no.

We ended up having to run over everything we had already done when he got there, and it ended up being a four hour rehearsal for a three hour gig!

And I didn’t get to go back home. No food. No sleep. And I haven’t slept for almost five months. And I have already played two church services, and a four hour rehearsal with no microphone. My mouth is SHOT! (imagine squatting for four straight ours…) And I have to be up front entertaining people, playing unfamiliar material confidently and alertly. But “The show must go on.” No excuses.

Oh, yeah, and the person after whom I have patterned my entire professional life is going to be there. And my tank is empty. Here is my chance to have Kirk see me in the environment I claim to be born for, and I have been sapped of all my mental and physical strength. And HE is the one I remember saying that to get that big shot is to be prepared at all times. I wasn’t hoping that he would sign me or anything like that. I just wanted him to know that I was ready. And I wasn’t. And no excuse was sufficient. People spent their money on a product, and they don’t want to hear, “Oh, the food isn’t as good because the cook is sick.”

I couldn’t even remember the horn line to, “What You Won’t Do For Love,” which I’ve been playing for fifteen years! My brain was fried. I felt that I had let myself and the band and the audience down. And the sound man was taping the show! I kept thinking that I surely didn’t want to hear that monstrosity.

Kirk (Whalum) sat in with us and played the paint off the walls! He was great. My parents, sisters, and church members were there in force, and they loved everything. I remember praying to God during one song that He get me through this night because I couldn’t hold myself up. I think He carried me.

The one thing about playing music is that when the audience is caught up in the moment, they can sometimes see the colors but can miss the lines that separate them. Ask Simon Cowell. Listening to a recording can often tell a different story.

The sound man forgot to tape the show! Look at God!

There is no overarching moral here. I just wanted to write about my weekend. But I DO know that God lets adversity occur in order to tone up the muscles. And I don’t mind that. I’m getting pretty strong in my soul bone lately!

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Humor, Life, Music, Parenthood, Playing Music, Work, Writing | 6 Comments

Why Ya Think They Call ‘Em “Happy Meals?”

Max bows his head sorrowfully, as if about to pray, “Daddy?” soft as a whisper.
“What?!” I answer, sharply.
“Paw Paw… Richie-Ryan… Chic-kan nug-gets,” referring to my father and two young nephews and a food he likes.
I cover my face so he can’t see me smile.
 
Okay, imagine John Edwards saying to his wife: “Hey, Honey, did you lose weight or do something to your hair? You look GREAT!!”


Or Senator Craig saying to the arresting officer: “Wow, they sure keep these airport bathrooms spotless!”

 

Max, two years old now, has just gotten caught doing one of his list of a thousand daily things he knows not to do, and is trying to soften up the wrath.
“Paw Paw… Richie-Ryan… Chic-kan nug-gets.” I hear it twenty times a day.
But what can ya do?
 

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Boys, Children, Christian Life, Discipline, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Home Life, Humor, John Edwards, Kids, Larry Craig, Life, Max, Parenthood, Parenting | 6 Comments

Home Trainin’

“Hey, Max!”

“What, Daddy?” Smiling.

“Max, don’t say ‘what’ when I call you, okay? Say, ‘Yes, Daddy?’.”

“Okay, Daddy.”

He walks away. Five seconds later…

“Hey, Max?”

“What, Daddy?”

This is gonna take some time.

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Home Training, Humor, Kids, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 5 Comments

Babee Tawk

“Jlknsphote giso dnb tjiom rhsdder!” Max said to me, dead serious.

“What?!?” I thought.

So, I repeated what he said, word for word: “Jlknsphote giso dnb tjiom rhsdder?”

He frowned and looked at me out the side of his eye as if to say, “Man, what’s da mattah witchou? Speak Englitch!”

Then he said, “No, Dah! Sefcka tehpmfn hse SOAVEX!”

“Oh. Okay. MY bad.”

It was so funny! What he said to me — he always has these extended conversations with us — made perfect sense to him on the inside of his head. Everything makes sense in there! Including putting cell phones and dead leaves in his mouth, using a sharpie on my desk and the washing machine, and pushing and pulling the keys on my horn while I’m playing it. Oh… and getting his big head stuck under the couch!

Whatever he said, it sure wasn’t what I said. What I said was just gibberish, I guess.

June 17, 2008 Posted by | Babies, Baby Talk, Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Son, Don’t Point it Till You’re Ready to Shoot!

We can leave Max alone to watch educational television on the Sprout, or Noggin networks, but we cannot leave him alone for a second on his potty.

We’re training him to go on his own, and it is proving to be the hardest thing yet about child-rearing! Kathy and I have dealt with colic, wildfires of diaper rash, mounds of “butt mustard”, gallons of re-gurj, waterfallian sinus infections, cuts, all-night feedings, soap tasting and ant eating, penny sucking, picky eating, and nap refusing, but this potty training is kickin’ us in da collective butt!

Put him on the pot and go right down the hall, “Son, don’t move!” and the next thing you know, Max is spraying the bath mats like he’s a hose-fed weed killer and they’re crabgrass, or he’s triumphantly swirling his hands around in you-ryne like he’s filming a Palmolive commercial! “You’re soaking in it!”

 Now, I have to watch out for shiny spots on the floor when I go back in to get him, or I’ll have a disgusting slip-and-fall incident. 

He’s 100% boy, and I just LOVE it! Every exasperating moment! My son!

Kathy’s gonna deevorce me for this!

 

May 29, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Pictures | 7 Comments

Max’s Mother’s Day Sentiment

This is the card Max “wrote”* to Kathy yesterday:

This is Max

*Actually I wrote it (he dictated…) with my off hand. It took almost an HOUR! My hand is still hurting! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Life, Mother's Day, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 2 Comments

No, No, No Ya Don’t…

I had to change the words to that familiar children’s song, ’cause every time I turned around, Max was getting into something else he shouldn’t have.

Like just today, he pulled ALL the clothes out of Kathy’s bottom drawer, threw them onto the floor, and put his toy remote control in it. And when he was supposed to be taking a nap, he instead threw all the blankets out of the bed, and was sitting upright with the liner from his dirty clothes hamper on his head. Smiling at me.

Last night, he came into the living room with the vaseline jar on his hand like a glove, and a jar full of vaseline in his hair. He has broken tusks from elephant statues at my folks’ house, phones, and computer keypads, and he has eaten a Christmas light. He tried to climb up into the automatic swing that Diana was sleeping in. He mistimed it, fell, and the swing began mindlessly hitting him until he could get up and out of the way.

Monday, when he was supposed to be taking a nap, I heard him in his room talking. (He knows not to do that) When I burst into his room, I saw him sitting, still as a mailbox with his blanket over his body. “Max! Lie down and go to sleep!” No movement. I walked closer: “Max! YOU know you’re not supposed ta be in here talking! Lie down!” No movement. I pulled the blanket off of him, ready to chastise him for not doing what I told him to do. He was just smiling up at me , all sixteen teeth showing.

In a hurry, I put the blanket up to my face so he couldn’t see me laughing. I laid him back down. See, HE thought that, even though he was sitting up, I couldn’t see him sitting up! His little child’s mind told him that to be very still under that blanket made it impossible for him to be seen. It was sooo funny! That’s my boy!

My mother and sister bought him one of those motorized trucks that you can sit in and drive for Christmas. Now, he is only one year old, and I tried to tell them not to do it, but it was no use. He can’t even associate pressing the gas pedal with making the truck go yet. Well, the other day, I brought it home from my folks’ house (it was too big to fit in the car, I thought…), and when I took it out, Max jumped in it and proceeded to slam it into the car repeatedly. “No, no, no, Max! Stop! Wait! Don’t…!” We just laughed

So in that spirit, and for that reason, I have changed the words and the meaning to that singalong:

No, no, no ya don’t

Don’t you mess with that.

Don’t put that upon your head,

A shoe is not a hat!

No, no, no ya don’t

Don’t you eat the keys.

When Daddy has to go to work,

He’ll be needing these.

No, no, no ya don’t

Poke your sister’s eye.

She needs that to watch for you

You’re a dang’rous guy.

And so on…

April 3, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Nursery Rhymes, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 Comments

The Rest of the Story

I said that when I got more time, I would write more on what happened when Diana was born. Seeing how things have been this last week, I know now that I’ll NEVER have any more time!

Kathy began having real contractions Wednesday night. By Thursday, they were coming steadily enough so that our friend, Megan who is trained as a labor and delivery nurse, took basically her whole day — Excuse me. Both babies just woke up yelling and crying from different rooms at the SAME time!!!— to walk Kathy through a nearby park in order to bring on the true labor Kathy wanted. (Our last birth was a c-section, and Kathy really wanted to have a conventional birth!) Megan homeschools her kids, one of whom was sick, and she forsook that all to spend hours helping my wife!

Thursday night/Friday morning at around three, She started to have strong contractions at from six or seven minutes apart to four or five. Even though I’m a night owl, going to sleep at around three or four every morning, I was really sleepy. Kathy was taking one of thee thousands of showers she had been taking all day to soothe her pain when I finally fell off to sleep. As soon as I did, she came into the room and said that she was ready to go. Wishful thinking made me stay in the bed.

“When I get dressed, I’m goin’ to tha hospital, whether you’re ready or not!” she said, rummaging through her drawers. It took her forty minutes to put some clothes on. It takes longer when you have to stop and pray to Jeessussss every four minutes…

“Oh,” I croaked, “You were serious?”

“Yeah! This is IT! The contractions have been four minutes apart for an hour.”

We got to the hospital at 4:45 AM. Megan, the angel, had met us at the house and followed us. My parents, who were going to keep Max for us, were waiting for us when we got there. They took him home with them shortly after Kathy was admitted.

Kathy was scheduled to have a c-section on Saturday, but she and her doctor wanted her to try to have her “the regular way.” Max was a c-section baby, and weighed in at nine pounds, six ounces! She was more than a week past the due date and the baby was only getting bigger. We felt now that the Lord had answered Kathy’s fervent prayer in the affirmative with all these labor pains and stuff.

Kathy’s friends, Heather, and Lisa, who took all those pictures, arrived at between 6 and 8 am. They both have families, and left them to stay with Kathy. Her mother came to town to stay with us for a week, and got to the hospital at around 9 am. We all thought that, at this rate, she would be having the baby by no later than twelve noon or one at the latest. HA!

I had a gig that night which Kathy had no problem with me making, and since it started at 10:30 that night, we both knew I would make it ok. HA!

Her contractions were coming steadily (every two or four minutes) for hours, and she took them like a champ until around 10 am or so when she asked for an epidural. This involves injecting an anesthetic through a catheter inserted into a canal in the doggone spine! And how is this better, I wonder…?

To make a long story long, Kathy endured the process of physical and mental stress (which was probably worse) until 7:30 pm. The doctors and she were trying to wait for her cervix to dilate to the point where Diana could pass naturally. “I don’t want to be gutted like a fish!” Kathy would repeatedly say, only partly in jest.

Just as with Max, it would never happen.

Through all of this, Heather and Lisa stayed! Hour upon hour of stress, tedium, pain, and varying opinions on what to do and they just called husbands, arranged for kids to be picked up, and stayed right there with her. Never had we experienced such friendship and dedication. Even after I left to work, (musicians don’t have workman’s compensation! No play, no pay! Kathy’s maternity pay is a little bit less than her regular pay, so I had to go get it!) Megan returned, and Lisa and Heather stayed into Saturday morning until I told Kathy to have them go home!

I am so blessed (Kathy, too…) to have people who love my wife so much. She is not from Memphis, and used to fret about not having ties here. This is an answer to that prayer, because she has friends now from all strata who love her like family!

Yes, they attend that church I rave about. (And Heather wants me to tell you that in spite of the name, she IS black! 🙂 )

It was obvious after all these hours that Diana was not going to push her way out. There was a lot of back and forth about what should happen, so the nurse — at Kathy’s request — cleared the room. Kathy, now crying,  called me back, and while I had a whole line prepared — excuse me, Diana just started to wail again — about how God knows better than we do what is best, and that this is His will, and that we have to get in line with that will… But she wasn’t crying about having to have another c-section. Suffice it to say that she was worried that her friends’ feelings would be hurt through all of this.

So, after much travail, much of which would be politically and socially improper for me to tell, Diana was pulled into this world at exactly eight o’clock looking just like her brother did, and suspiciously like a little Eskimo lady. (Kathy spent four years living in Alaska…) Actually, my grandfather had a white father and a Cherokee mother, so that is why they come out looking so U.N.

I spent an hour or so with them and left for my gig with my wife’s blessing. They started late waiting for me.

For the next two weeks in what is apparently a tradition in many churches (NOT the one I attended!), we will be receiving meals cooked by different women in the church. When this happened with Max, we were blown away! It is a wonderful thing to see the Body of Christ work in such fluid and effective fashion.

And just as we cannot do anything to warrant God’s Sacrifice and favor, we have not done anything to deserve being loved in so great a way by so many!

April 1, 2008 Posted by | Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Church Life, Family, Fatherhood, Kids, Life, Love, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Pregnancy | 4 Comments

For Unto US (Kathy and Me) a Child is Born

Diana, our new daughter, was born on Good Friday! She weighed nine pounds and one ounce, and was 21 1/2 inches long. Even though she was in pickle juice for nine months, she is beautiful. (She looks like the little “Ice Age” baby) Kathy was basically in labor from Wednesday on, and we went to the hospital at 4:45 AM. Diana was born by c-section at eight PM!

Many beautiful things happened, but as I am just getting home and getting adjusted to the exponential increase in work and DEcrease in sleep, I will have to write about it all in detail in a day or so.

You can see pictures of the process at  http://kiralisa.wordpress.com/2008/03/22/a-precious-baby-is-born/where my friend and churchmember, the great photographer Lisa Thomas, has chronicled our experience.

March 24, 2008 Posted by | Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 16 Comments

It Takes a Village to SPOIL a Child!

“Max just put a battery in the toilet upstairs,” young Demetrius calmly said to the adults who were downstairs watching the game and having adult conversation.

Exasperated, Kathy looked at me and sighed, “Go up there and get it out.”

“There’re some yellow gloves under the sink you can put on to get it out,” Daddy said, laughing.

As I made my way through the kitchen to the stairs — about eight boys were having a sleepover/party for my nephew, Ryan, who just turned ten — I heard a yell from up in the gameroom, “THASS OKAAAY. MAX GOT IT OUUUT!”

What? As if THAT’S better! So I get upstairs just in time to snatch the wet battery from the soaked hands (and arms) of my boy an inch before he put it in his mouth! I couldn’t be angry at him. I had to shake my head and laugh. He’s incredibly curious, and I know this curiosity will pay off for him in the future.

We were at my folks’ house tonight since I didn’t have to work.

My parents were the most no nonsense parents in the world when they were raising my sisters and me. I said “WERE.” I get most of my parenting techniques from them — with a few modifications. They did not stand for spoiled behavior in us. They spanked WAY more than we do. We didn’t drink Kool-Aid with meals — only water. We did as we were told with no backtalk, no “whys” and no stomping off into another room. We toed the line, no exceptions.

Now, as grandparents, they are doggone marshmallows! You know what I mean…

At home, and in stores, and at church, etc., we have Max pretty much locked down, behavior-wise. He does as he is generally told the very first time. If I say, “Max don’t go in that room,” he turns right around with no whining. We don’t have to get after him that much.

On most Sundays, our family gathers at my folks’ house for dinner, and as soon as we get there, Max, somehow sensing the change in the rules, does what HE wants to do.

Tonight, as every time we visit, he wanted to go upstairs and play with the teen-agers, who were playing video games, pool, and wrestling. Kathy — rightly — felt that those boys shouldn’t have the responsibility of watching a nineteen-month-old Super Ball bounce from one new discovery to the next! It was their time to play and have fun, so we, to the great chagrin of the former wicked witch (NOT in an evil way!!!) of MY childhood and the current jellyfish of my adulthood (Ma) declined to let him go upstairs. He whined and cried all night. To the guests who had never seen him, I’m sure he looked like a brat.

Max is a LOT of work at my parents’ house. There is so much more room, so many more things to get into. Rather than acquiesce to our commands, he chooses to pout, and we — to our fault — sometimes give in to the peer-pressure and the possibility of being seen as mean parents and don’t cut the bad behavior off quickly like we do at home.

My parents have spoiled that boy and he knows it and they won’t admit it. If I did to Max what they did to us, they would probably cut me out of the will like a cancerous tumor!

So, Kathy and I went to the store, and asked Ma to watch Max for us. “Yeah,” I said resigned, “You can go ahead and let him go upstairs, but I’m gonna make him come back down when I get back.”

That’s how he ended up being up there. Kathy and I were only proven right. And as further confirmation, there’s this:

After I took off his shirt and washed all tha HEPATITIS off his hands and arms(!), Ma took him with her into her bathroom while she put up some towels. “Come on, Max! You can stay with me!”  As soon as I got back to the adult conversation and to my four years pregnant wife (that’s why I was doing everything… She can’t MOVE!), I heard Ma in the back; “No Max! No. NO! When I got back there to to see what cat as trophy he had wrought, I saw my mother laughing and wringing water out of the silk-lined shower cap that she hangs on the faucet of her jacuzzi which just happens to be just the right height for a nineteen-month-old baby to reach!

All the adults in the living room, even Daddy, chuckled and agreed: “Thass what she GIT!”

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Grandparents, Humor, Kids, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 2 Comments

The Night the Lights Went Out

Never in my life. Never has this happened to me.

Kathy and I were watching tivo, and Max was playing destructively, as is his bent. “Bent” being anything he has touched.

Karen from the church gave us one of those easels with the chalkboard on it, for the kids to write on. There is a tray under the board that goes from front to back which is to hold supplies — crayons, pencils, etc. The tray also serves to support and strengthen the easel. Its base is pressboard. Not very sturdy at all.

Max likes to crawl inside of stuff… When Kathy had a contraction last week and slightly panicked and started packing hospital bags and asked me to quickly put the bassinet together, Max crawled into the little space at the bottom where the baby supplies are kept.
Well, we were watching tivo, and Kathy tapped me on the leg and whispered, “Look at that li’l boy!”

He was crawling, legs sticking out, hanging down, onto the tray part of the easel. It was about two feet off the floor. I forgot to tell you that of the four butterfly wingnuts that hold up the tray, only three were actually in service. One being unfindable.
Max is nineteen months old, but he is as big as some three-year-olds. He weighs about thirty-five pounds. I know he will bump his head in life, and I don’t generally rush to save him from every skinned knee and fat lip. I didn’t move. Just watched him…

He pulled himself up into the tiny space, and as soon as he tucked his legs in, in slow motion, the tray began to break apart and collapse. Verrrry slowly. You could hear the pressboard crackling like giant graham crackers. Max, who is MOSTLY head, rolled head-first onto the floor amid a pile of what was now kindling! (I’m laughing now. But I’m scared to laugh anymore…)

Kathy and I howled like two wolves. More like two hyenas.
I laughed so hard. So hard that I couldn’t breathe. My eyes began to roll back, and my head felt like it was floating…This has happened before when I have laughed really hard, but what (apparently) happened next never has.

I was frozen. All I remember is that I was holding my glasses limply in the crook of my thumb and forefinger. I remember that when we started to laugh, we both lifted up the blanket that covered us to hide our faces. And our shame at laughing so hard at our boy.

Now, though, my fingers were curled as though I were still holding it, but it had dropped.
“What happened?” I asked. “What’s going on?” I didn’t feel any pain, but I felt as though I had just awakened. It felt as though days had passed but the same tv show was on.

Kathy was crying, but I couldn’t remember if she was crying from laughing, or crying from crying. So many unformed questions swirled, alphabet soupy, in my head. The fog began to clear when I saw Max walking around swinging a stick that looked like it came from a tray that attached to an easel.

Kathy was leaning over me, scared to death, and now crying from crying. “What’s wrong?!? Don’t play with me like this! You can’t leave me now! We got too much goin’ on!” (I wasn’t dying or anything. She was just scared.)

I was still trying to get it together. “A B C D E F G… Now, smile… okay, I can smile. Move your left arm… okay. So I didn’t just have a doggone stroke!” I knew what had happened… I laughed so hard that I lost oxygen and freekin’ blacked out! (It’s called “hypoxia.” I looked it up online as soon as I got up!) I have gotten that light-headed feeling a lot of times in the past when something reeeeeally funny has happened, but I have never gotten to the point where I lost consciousness!

I asked Kathy what let her know something was off since Max was on her side of the room and she was looking away from me. She said that she knew something was wrong because I had suddenly stopped laughing and it wasn’t time for it to stop being funny yet. She said that when she saw me, I was staring up into space, “What’s goin’ on? What’s happ’nin’?”, as though I had just seen Jesus or an alien. Seriously, I wondered if I had just gotten back from a summit meeting with God.

I guess this is what they mean when they say, “I fell out laughing!”

Folks, don’t laugh at your kids. It could kill you..

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Life, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Writing | 4 Comments

Two Bears and a Cub

The Parents were both sleeping soundly when out of the silence, a horrified — and horrifying — cry shot like lightning through the dying darkness. The Mother immediately leapt into action, while the Father lay there not moving, thinking he was dreaming and praying it was not the Baby.

The Mother returned to the bed with the Baby in her arms. The Baby, wide awake now, and smiling, was unconcerned with the fact that the Father had only just two hours ago gone to sleep, and had to get right back up in two more small hours.

The Baby was talking to the Mother in a cute, nineteen-month-old kind of way and the Mother, unaware that the Father could hear it all, whispered back to him in an effort to soothe and drowse him.

“O-Mommee!” he said, as though he just realized she was there.

“Go to sleep, Baby.”

“Ohh Kayyy,” he whispered, resigned. This went on for minutes, as it does when he has a nightmare and the Parents go get him to put him back to sleep.

The Father was desperately trying to hold on to the greasy rope of sleep that slid, ever more rapidly through the fingers of his mind. His head was facing away from the Action and towards the clock, whose ten-foot-tall numbers screeched in neon, “5:38 am.”

“Well,” said the Father to himself, “Almost two hours… That’s a LOT of time left to sleep.” As though he would drop to sleep that very moment. The thing about sleep, though, is that you don’t get to experience all that good time when you are asleep. You go to sleep, and the next second, the alarm goes off. It doesn’t FEEL like eight or ten hours just went by.

In the waning darkness, the Baby realized that the Father was right there. “O-Daddee!” he said, elated.

Something that felt like a little Baby arm smacked the Father on the back of the neck.

“Don’t hit the Daddy, Baby. He has to get up in a little while.” It was a little Baby arm, then.

“Ohh Kayyy.”

They went back to their back-and-forth.

“5:47 AM!”

“I know, “ the Father retorted sharply, on the inside.

Something that felt like little Baby fingers began to wrestle through the tangle that is Sleeping Black Father Hair. “Aaa Da-Dee!”

“Leave your daddy alone, Baby,” said the Mother in a vain effort to forestall the inevitable. “You suuure love your daddy, don’t you?” she whispered rhetorically, as much to the air as to the Baby. The Father heard this and thanked God for giving him stewardship of a son who thought absolutely the world of someone so unworthy as he.

The Father, like the rolling of a tidal wave, at the rising of some leviathan, gave up on sleep and turned over and took in his arms this thirty-five pound wriggling onesie full of all that the Parents hold dear. “Come on, Baby. Time to go to sleep.”

Ohh Kayy!” smiling.

The Father began what was known as “The Kansas City Shake” which no baby could resist.

“Go to sleeping, Baby,” he said, in a lilting,  nonspecific, somewhat French, somewhat German accent.

His eyes soon began to slide closed. The Baby’s eyes did, as well.

In the bluing light of the morning, something like a little Baby arm reached up and lay on the Father’s neck. The Father looked and noticed that it was, in fact, a little Baby arm. And the Baby was asleep.

“6:24 AM!”

“Da-Dee…”
 

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 10 Comments

“Thou Shalt Not Spank Thy Fetus.”

While I’m on the subject… 

Why is it that the very same people who cry about spanking are the ones who are okay with stabbing a LIVING fetus in the back of the head with a pair of scissors?

Why is it okay to kill a living, feeling human being, and not spank a disobedient child? Is it because there is no “hitting” involved in abortion?

These people act so tender and loving and caring and sensitive to the well-being of the most vulnerable among us. Why do they not react with outrage at the killing of an unBORN baby? Why are they so quick to make abortion about the woman and not the child? This is the Mount Everest of hypocrisy! Is a plane crash more about the plane, or the occupants?

If you truly care about the the littlest of us, show it by helping to make sure they at least GET here first without having someone vacuum out their brains while they wait innocently in line to simply be born!

“Love doesn’t hit!” they spout.

Well I doubt if love squashes out the life of a fetus because it interferes with the ability of the mother to “have it all,” or because she can’t afford it, or because the babyDaddy left, or because it would be embarrassing.

“Violence is not the answer,” they preach.

How doggone violent is an abortion? Pleeeze!

God told me to spank a foolish child and not to murder an innocent one. Case closed.

Will the passing of the proposed Massachussetts law mean that doctors who swat newborns will be arrested? I’m just asking…

You tell me to stay out of your bedroom. I suggest that you stay out of MY woodshed!

Some grown folk need to be whupped!

November 29, 2007 Posted by | Abortion, Christianity, Discipline, Parenthood, Parenting, Spanking | 4 Comments

Butts Are For More Than Just Shaking In Videos!

Spanking is NOT violence. Why should I even have to SAY that?! This is just a clever argument designed to cancel any potential disagreement. It is fallacious, though. Is ”violence” simply the act of one person physically inflicting pain on another? What about a car accident? Is that an act of violence? What about hernia surgery? Or a hernia EXAM for that matter! (Nawww, THAT’S some violence!)

A spanking is no more an act of violence than these occurrences.

And frankly, I don’t appreciate a shackin’, no-children-havin’, feminist, Universalist, New Age, talk show host tellin’ me how to raise my children in my Christian household!

Raise YOUR kids as you see fit. I will do the same. If YOU want kids who defy you, yell at you, disobey you, that’s fine. Mine won’t do those things. Not twice. I will not accept the label of ”abuser” because I choose to use a perfectly Godly method of discipline when necessary. Doing too little is as bad as doing too much. I suggest that one who is excessively liberal in dealing with his children is just as much an abuser as the parent who truly DOES beat his offspring. One who lets his kids run around doing what they please and talk back will unleash a complete terror on society. Those kids make teachers’ lives miserable, as well as shoppers, and co-workers later in life. They grow up to be awful friends, selfish paramours, and EX-husbands and wives. Check the divorce stats, if you think I’m lying! I propose that there are as many divorces, if not more, that had NO physical abuse but occurred because one or both parties had no willingness to tough out a rough situation selfishly choosing to ruin lives rather than live up to a commitment.See: Irreconcilable differences.

There are things that damage society just as much as child abuse– WHICH SPANKING IS NOT! Ask ENRON investors. Ask anyone who has suffered at the cloven hooves of a crooked politician.

Don’t try to trivialize a good point by saying that I think that the ills of the world will be solved with a belt. I am not ridiculous, so don’t you be. What I AM saying is that if you prune a shrub early, you stand a better chance of controlling and shaping its development.

Spanking is no more necessary in every situation as is the emergency brake in a car or a fire extinguisher– it is there for use in extreme cases. And different kids need different levels of discipline. My mother got only one spanking from her father, but some of her siblings got probably dozens. Oh, yeah, I just thought about it; the only sibling of hers to go bad was the one my grandmother wouldn’t let anybody touch! But THAT was just a coincidence, hunh experts?

When there was more discipline, there was less crime. There were fewer unwed mothers and fatherless children. Old people were respected, and children didn’t curse in front of grown-ups like they do now. The more lenient and ”progressive” we have become, the more incivil our world is. Whooh!! We really have evolved!

Gangs are RUN by kids. Kids with NO parental guidance. We are the first generation who are actually AFRAID of our children! Ask their innocent victims which is worse– a whipping or a bullet in the head.

”Nip it, nip it, nip it,” Barney Fife used to say. And I agree. My great-grandmother used to tell my father, ”Um gone git MY hands on you before the po-leece do, cuz they don’t care nudd’n ’bout cha! They’ll knock ya in na head an’ KILL ya!”  That is the truth. This world loves no one. It is hard and harsh, and will do whatever it can to take what you have. Including your life. A parent’s measured, Godly discipline is not harmful and will help a child avoid — or cope with– life’s potholes.

Christians have an ETERNAL perspective that allows us to see the tremendous difference between a whupping and death. We know that there are worse things in life than a child crying. We serve a God who tells us that whipping a child will not kill him. It is a temporary pain. God disciplines us in sometimes painful ways. We ALL will lose our lives. I am not angry with the Lord because I will die, or because my folks won’t live forever, and even if I did get angry, He is God enough to not let that make Him soft. He will hurt our feelings when and if necessary.

We, however, ARE soft. Rather than have our kids angry with us, we try to become their pals. A bunch of spineless yes-men! We try to reeezon with them. How can we reason with a person who doesn’t possess the judgment to drive a car or marry or drink alcohol or buy a gun or rent an apartment or share a toy or eat vegetables or stay out of mud puddles or come in when the street lights come on or not eat the Christmas lights!!! “STOP, MAX!!!”

I don’t necessarily have the time to explain the properties of alternating current and conductive metals to a doggone baby. I don’t necessarily have the time to explain how boiling water makes baby’s skin slide off. A sharp smack on the hand saves time, words, and LIFE!!!

We opened the gate wide and let them run around in traffic. So that WE could feel better about our compassionate selves. I say that a child getting hit by a metaphoric car out in that street is a DIRECT act of violence!

I’ll stop spanking my kids when Oprah starts spanking hers!

November 27, 2007 Posted by | Childhood, Christianity, Discipline, Family, Fatherhood, Liberals, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, Parenthood, Parenting, Spanking | 18 Comments

Swimming Lessons.

My good-hearted 16-month-old son, Max, stands tottering on the shore of an ocean of sorrows. He has what appears to be the most friendly personality of any child in the world. He beams at the sight of other kids, never fights over toys, and when he smiles, he does so with his whole body! He loves to have fun, and possesses a wide-open heart. Life and this World are gonna KILL him!  Beat him to oatmeal! Waiting for him is a sea of sharks, jellyfish, and other predators seeking to drag him under and rip from him all the innocent, uncorrupted joy he now possesses.

Though I could bail him out and be a vessel by which he could navigate this ocean, I can only guide him while he swims alongside. It is with great sadness that I realize this. I have swum this way before, only barely making it without being consumed by rage, hatred, and selfishness. I didn’t know if I would make it, and I don’t know if Max will.

But God knows.

It is He who has given me the map by which I will lead my son. It is He who will instruct me as to what to say when the waves roll high and threaten to swallow him.

”Don’t let Life win, Son.

“Don’t let situations cause you to give up and become that which seeks to destroy you. Don’t be led by those unworthy. Make God your conscience. Know the right answers. USE them. 

“Every girl won’t like you. Some will hurt you. On purpose. Be nice anyway. Don’t let matters of the heart submerge you.

“Pain passes. Laugh when you need to. Cry when you have to. Keep swimming!

“Don’t let people be the riptide, the undertow that pulls you in an unGodly direction.

“Sit up front. Don’t back down. Don’t sell your friend out. You won’t have many.

“Life is hard. Often unfair. God is the prize. Know Him truly.

“Have your fun, but put in your work first. Stand flat-footed on your word.

“When you get tired, God will buoy you by the Spirit-shaped float inside you. 

“Keep this joy you have, only coat it with a veneer of strength with which to defend yourself. With this, you will be able to brush off the arrows hurled by those who will hate your love.” Daddy.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Advice, Childhood, Christian Life, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Words of Wisdom | 2 Comments

Parentnoia!

That’s what popped into my head when my wife said I was being excessively worrisome about having a daughter. Oh, yeah… We’re having a GIRL!!! Just found out.

I got the shotgun on layaway.

How am I going to raise a girl? I’m not even talking about combing hair and buying baby dolls! I’m talking about BOYS! I have to teach her what the boys really mean. When they try to “just be friends.” I’ve got to show her how to recognize “game” when they shoot it at her. She has to know how to conduct herself. She can’t be flighty, and I don’t want any stuck-up queens in my house! I have to tell her about what is love and what is simply lust. I have to let her know not to flirt and lead them on. I have to teach her self-respect and purity. I’ve got to keep her out of the videos!

I’ve got to show her what to look for in a man, and how to treat a husband. I’m looking waaaay down the line. She’s not even here yet, and I’m thinking that if she wants to be a nun, that’s cool, too! Are there any protestant nuns…?

I’m thinking about boys coming to my door like crocodiles on a riverbank in Africa, trying to devour my baby like a wildebeest. I’m thinking about hurtin’ ’em! Shoot, every time you look around, some fool has bumped off his wife, or killed his girlfriend, and I’m thinking, “If you touch mine, I’m gonna clock you out!” I know that’s not exactly Christian. But mine ain’t the one to be messed with! I promise you that! I think that, as far as my daughter is concerned, domestic violence warrants the death penalty!

So, in order for me to keep from sinning against God by prematurely sending somebody’s son His way, I’m worrying about how to keep my daughter from swinging around on stripper poles!

I work in nightclubs. I see it all! I do sorority parties, and I see Daddy’s little girl making a drunken slut of herself on a regular basis. Daddy has no idea. I would think to myself, “Man! I’m glad I got a boy!” And look at me now. How am I gonna stop THAT from happening to mine?

I know the answers to these questions. But the reality is that even well-raised kids often go astray, and nowadays, with all the wanton immorality out there, one dalliance can spell a lifetime of disaster! I know about the prodigal son, but I don’t know if prodigal daughters come back.

I don’t want my daughter desensitized to the stigma of premarital sex and single motherhood. I don’t want her to think it’s cool to shack up, that that’s how you know if you’re compatible. I don’t want her to think that marriage is just a piece of paper. I don’t want my daughter to have given little pieces of herself away to the point where by the time she does meet her husband, there will be nothing left but a hollow shell. I don’t want a Paris Hilton, or a Li’l Kim, or a video rumpshaker.

I know, I know. If I set the right example, she will not fall for the”okey doke.” She will not let herself be mistreated.

But still… There is a lot more to deal with with a girl. There IS a double standard, and like it or not, it’s not going to change. No matter how hard the feminists try.

So yeah, I may be a little parentnoid, but that will keep me on my toes! And if any of you young boys out there think my daughter is a grape for you to pick from the vine, remember this:

By the time you get to my door, that shotgun will be out of layaway and in my lap. I will usher you directly into the Lord’s presence! My girl ain’t gonna be the lead story on “Unsolved Mysteries”!

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Fatherhood, Life, Morality, Parenthood, Parenting, Pregnancy | 7 Comments

Pregnant Pause

My wife, Kathy, is not ditzy. She is not an airhead. She is not goofy. She would want me to let you know this.

She IS pregnant, however, (Diana Elise. Baking rightly at 98.6 degrees!) and it is to THAT that I will attribute her latest expectant escapade:

“Oh LAWD!” she exclaims inside her head, “I can’t find the carkeys!” She had just walked out of her office building, having just gotten off.

“What am I gonna do?” she thought frantically, mind racing. She searched her purse. Nothing. Her coat pockets. Nope.

“I’mma hafta go all the way back in the building and retrace all my steps! Oh, LAWD!”

She’s trying to focus, but she can’t because the radio is up too loud. As she throws her head back into the  headrest and looks up through the sunroof at the rapidly purpling sky, Kathy begins to howl, laughing…

She is IN the CAR! It is RUNNING! She has unlocked the car door, gotten inside, closed the door, put the keys into the ignition, started it, buckled up,         and forgotten all of that!

Now, I know we all have looked for a set of keys that were in our hands, but I don’t think ANYone has ever sat inside of a running automobile and fretted over lost carkeys!

The Lord takes care of babies and fools, the saying goes… He got two for one in this case!

Part of the reason I married her is because of how funny she is, but she is USUALLY funny on purpose. I’m worried about her now, though. “For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for smarter or absent-mindeder?” I don’t know…

November 10, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Life, Marriage, Parenthood, Parenting, Pregnancy | 7 Comments

Life is Like Baghetties*

When I was a kid, I loved to eat spaghetti with the noodles unbroken. My mother, however, always broke them in half, saying that Daddy hated them long. I remember thinking that he was so mean and unadventurous. Long noodles were so FUN! How could anybody not like ’em? Now, fully grown, I understand his thinking. I can’t stand unbroken spaghetti noodles. See, the long noodles don’t let the meat mix in. You spin the fork and just get a big mound of pasta. Yeah, when the noodles are short, you miss out on some of the fun, but you get to the meat. As a grown man, I realize that eating is not just a game anymore. It is serious business!

Little things like that remind me of how the Christian journey is.

As God’s children, we often – usually- don’t understand why he does or allows difficult things. Our finite understanding causes us to wonder why He doesn’t allow the “fun” stuff.“Why don’t we all just live forever? Yaaay!” “Hey, lets ALL go to Heaven…”“Yaaay!”

“Live for today, man!”

“Lying is the best way to get out of a tight spot!”

“Yeah!”

“I’m a good person! I do good stuff. I don’t need Jeeesus!”

“Marriage is corny! Who needs that for sex? Or for kids?”

“Matter fact, I don’t love you no more. Let’s cut our losses. What’s the harm?”

“Let’s get those drunk girls to take their TOPS off and KISS! Hot!”

“What’s the big deal about a few cuss words, or nekkid butts on teevee? If you don’t like it, turn it off. Move your life out of my way!”

“What?!? Weed ain’t a drug like heroin! You gotta process that stuff! Weed is a herrrb. It comes from the earth!”

“What? God says ‘No?’ God’s WACK! He’s no fun at ALL! He made all this stuff and won’t let us use it! We gotta work, an’ study, an’ obey rules, an’ say ‘no’ to stuff…”

As we become more mature, however, we see the wisdom in order and structure. We see the consequences of unrestrained behavior. And Christian life is not boring up close as it seemed from a distance. We get rid of some of the extraneosity- if you will- and get right to the meat of life.

There is a joy in understanding the value of serving, peace in dealing with loss, and hope in eternity. We grow closer to God and more like Him.

My father wasn’t boring. He was just wise:

Life, while often fun, is serious business!

*Spaghetti

October 5, 2007 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Morality, Parenthood, Wisdom | Leave a comment

“This is Gonna Sting a Little…”

They Don’t Hate You.Coaches.Fathers.

Teachers.

Drill Instructors.

I used to think they hated me. They were so mean. Making me do stuff I couldn’t do. Didn’t want to do. Pushing me. Frowning. Yelling.

They never told me they were trying to make me better, stronger, smarter, tougher. They never said that the purpose was to make a man out of me. I didn’t know the true purpose until years later. I just thought at the time that they wanted to win at whatever the game was, and that I was simultaneously failing and causing them to fail. I thought they were trying to live through me, or to get a raise or promotion.

Had I known, I might have tried harder at more things and not given up a little inside. Maybe then, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to realize I wasn’t a loser that nobody liked. I wouldn’t have had to find out for myself.

This, however, is not about self-pity.

It is about my son. My children.

And perhaps yours.

“Max, the world is hard, and soft things get crushed. Those who can’t take it get taken.

This world sniffs out weakness and devours it, and you will be strong. Some people will try to take advantage of you. I will try to teach you to discern friends from abusers. But learning takes effort. Soft muscles become hard under pressure.

The first time you try to throw a ball, shoot a basketball, or ride a bike you will fail. No athletic endeavor is perfected without hours of dedicated practice.

You will have to wash dishes, wash cars, cut yards, mop floors, learn manners, eat things you don’t like, and not ask ‘why.’ You will at times think me mean, but I will not be swayed by that. It is not my first desire to be your friend, but your parent. You will be a citizen. You will improve this world, not burden it. We can be friends when YOU have kids and understand why I did what I did.

The first, even the tenth, math problem you encounter will be difficult to solve. Your first sentence will sound funny. Repetition is what will bring you understanding. You don’t get to give up. You will learn.

You will learn when to laugh, when to cry, when to fight, and when to listen. You will know when to comfort, how to be loyal, how to treat a woman, and how to pick a friend. You will know the Lord, and show the Lord. Above all else.

We will have a lot of fun in life, but I’m going to push you sometimes. There will be things that I will make you do that you will not want to do. You will fail a little now so as not to become a failure. Just understand that I do it- they do it- not out of hatred, but out of a desire, a responsibility, to make you more than you can become on your own. A knife needs a stone to become sharp. A sword needs fire to be shaped.

Daddy loves you.”

September 6, 2007 Posted by | Advice, Childhood, Discipline, Fathers and Sons, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Personal Responsibility | 1 Comment