Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Think He Got the Message?

Luke and I took Indy for a walk to Jack's baseball practice. Luke rode his big wheel, and we had to cross a parking lot to get to the field. There were probably 50 or more parking spots available, but some boob decided he wanted to park in the spot directly in front of us in our path of travel.

So, while we continued to walk forward because I did not see this boob, he drove quickly into the parking spot in front of us nearly clipping Luke.

"F-ing idiot," I said under my breath. And although I whispered it and was sure Luke didn't hear me, I did actually say "F-ing" and not the more appropriate for the situation full length four-letter word.

We stopped, waiting for the man to get out of his car. When he did, I said to him, "You almost took out my little guy."

He just looked at me, said nothing, with a weird grin on his face.

Luke looked at him, looked at me and said, "He's an idiot."

I almost felt guilty, but thought maybe getting called an idiot by a 5-year would help him improve his driving in parking lots where kids will be walking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Lesson in Diversity

Our neighborhood and school district aren't what you would call culturally diverse. They are about as white as you can get. I love our neighborhood and school district, but the lack of that diversity has always bummed me out a bit. I grew up in a neighborhood and school district in which I was the minority, and I've always wondered if I am doing my boys a disservice by not exposing them to a bigger range of ethnic groups, cultures and backgrounds.

This worry came to a head this morning when our new puppy Indy grabbed a book off of the coffee table to give it a good chew. I knew what book was sitting there - one written by Barack Obama with his picture on the cover.

Jack went to get the book from Indy and said, "Oh no! He's chewing a book about Martin Luther King!"

Oh no. Does my son really think that all adult male African Americans are Martin Luther King? As my mind spun into a panic of poor parenting and raising children that have no idea about the range of cultures that exist in this country, Jack said, "Oh, wait. It's Barack Obama."

Let me remind you that Jack is seven years old. I was extremely relieved that he corrected himself, but also impressed he could identify Barack by his picture. "How do you know about Barack Obama?" I asked him. "We are learning about him at school," he replied.

I was happy to hear that the school is discussing more African American role models than just Martin Luther King but had to wonder - Would Jack know any others if Barack wasn't about to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for President? I don't know that he would. But I also don't know if he could name many white role models, other than the Jonas Brothers.

So, my lessons learned are that Jack does not think all adult male African Americans are Martin Luther King; I need to expose my sons to more diversity; I need to teach them about heroes and role models in our country's history and that making a difference or leading a nation or spearheading change is dependent on a person's characteristics and not what they look like.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Achievable Goals

The boys started school on Tuesday. Today is Thursday. This morning Jack informed me:

"We've had perfect attendance all week! That's two days, and I bet we'll make perfect attendance for the first four days of school!"

I said, "It's only the first week. We better have perfect attendance."

Jack responded, "Well we could be sick or not feel like going. I think it's hard to have perfect attendance and I'm going to try four days in a row."

This boy knows how to set achievable goals.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Whose Influence?

I was driving home with Jack and Luke Friday night. It was about 7:30 pm. I thought that we would stay up late since I had been out of town all week.

Luke began yawning and talking about how tired he was.

"Do you need to go to bed when we get home?" I asked him.

"No," he said. "I just need some caffeine. Do we have any Diet Coke?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dear American Airlines:

I was wondering if it would be too much trouble for you to cancel my flight before I get up at 4:30 in the morning, drive to the airport, check in bags, go through security, wait to board until the time of departure has come and gone and realize that I am not getting on a plane.

And, when you graciously reschedule me for another flight where I am crammed into a middle seat and will receive none of my miles or awards, can you go ahead and reroute my bag onto that flight?

Or, if not, would it be too much trouble for you to locate my bag without me having to have someone call down to the luggage handlers four different times reminding them that I need my bag because my new flight departs in 45 minutes and I still have to check in for the new flight and make it back through security?

And would you send that bag to the gate rather than the bag carousel so I don't have to leave the terminal, go to baggage claim, haul my bag up to check in, re-check in, and then go through security once again?

And could you work it out with TSA to let me take my $5 bottle of water that I bought within the secure area of the airport back through security after I've received my bag, re-checked in, and re-entered the security screening process?

And could you call the car rental company and tell them my flight was canceled and I will be arriving late so they do not cancel my car reservation?

I know from your recent actions of raising ticket prices, charging for snacks, and charging for checked bags that customer service and satisfaction is of the utmost importance to you so I have no doubt that my requests will be fulfilled before I fly home on Friday.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Pretentious Puppy

There are a couple of things that I've noticed since getting our new puppy. The first is that dog toys are expensive, and I spend as much time shopping for dog toys as I did for kid toys when my boys first came into my life (Who am I kidding? I still spend way too much time shopping for kid toys).

The second is that things sure have changed since my last puppy. We had to euthanize my dog Shasta a couple of months ago due to congestive heart failure. She was 14.5 years old. When I got Shasta 14 years ago, she was six months old and already house broken, trained, and well-mannered. I changed all that pretty quickly. It wasn't more than a week before she was sleeping in my bed rather than her kennel and running around out of control. Anyway, I never performed any significant training with her, other than teaching her how to play hide-and-go seek.

With Indy, we are in full-on training mode, using techniques from various training books we checked out from the library and got at the pet store. We are using "positive reinforcement" training where treats are doled out like candy for the tiniest of accomplishments (e.g. Not eating my shoes? Good boy! Have some treats!). We have enrolled him in puppy kindergarten to begin the steps of training him and ourselves and ensuring he is properly socialized to avoid any future aggressive behavior. We are potty training, which is now the accepted term since house breaking seems to imply that something is broken and needs to be fixed. We are chastising ourselves when Indy chews something or has an accident because we were not being more diligent in potty breaks and rewarding play time. We are buying "smart toys" to stimulate our puppy's mind and give him gainful employment, the payment of which is food. See how much he enjoys his Buster Cube?

So let me ask you this - am I raising a dog or preparing my child to be accepted into an Ivy League school?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Young Man's Journey

My cousin, Chris, has started a journey the likes of which I never would have been brave enough to undertake at his age. Matter-of-fact, I would not be brave enough at any age. Chris is kind, eloquent, faithful and fun, and has an inherent understanding of what people need and sincerely wants to give that to them. I wish there were more like him - the world would be a much better place. Follow his journey at Wide-eyed and ready, following the unseen path.

Saturday Laughs

At one point during a game, the coach called one of his 9-year-old
baseball players aside and asked, 'Do you understand what cooperation is?
What a team is?'

The little boy nodded in the affirmative.

'Do you understand that what matters is whether we win or lose
together as a team?'

The little boy nodded yes.

'So,' the coach continued, 'I'm sure you know, when an out is called,
you shouldn't argue, curse, attack the umpire, or call him a
pecker-head. Do you understand all that?'

The little boy nodded again.

He continued, 'And when I take you out of the game so another boy gets
a chance to play, it's not good sportsmanship to call your coach 'a
dumb ass' is it?'

Again, the little boy nodded.

'Good,' said the coach. 'Now go over there and explain all that to
your grandmother.'

Thursday, August 7, 2008

One to Grow On

I read somewhere awhile back that you can get a good idea how tall your kids will be through this method: Average the height of the parents and then add 4" for a boy or subtract 4" for a girl. That would put my boys at about 5'10" once fully grown.

Let me just say that 5'10" is not good enough for my boys. They want to be the biggest and strongest in the room and look forward to the day when they are taller than John. They stretch their bodies, stand on things, make us squat down - anything to make themselves appear taller than they actually are.

They stand on the scale often to see if they are gaining weight. Luke especially enjoys this, and will climb on the scale and ask me, "How old am I?" When I remind him that a scale tells weight, not age, he says, "Oh yeah. How big am I?" The number I tell him means nothing to him. He just wants to hear that it is higher than the last time and will often advance the zero point on the scale by 20 pounds to appear even bigger.

The only time Luke wishes he could stay small is when he's hiding. Growing, he says, will ruin the game of hide-and-seek because he won't be able to fit into the tiniest places. I don't tell him that one day he won't want to play hide-and-seek so being bigger won't make a difference. He wouldn't believe that there would ever be a time when he didn't feel like playing that game. But I know that time will come. I also know he'll find the magic in the game again once he has kids of his own.

If my boys could, they would rush the growing process as quickly as possible. Thankfully, God has wisdom enough to not let this occur. And even though I look forward to each and every upcoming milestone, their eagerness to grow reminds me to encourage them to slow down and not rush things. It is important for all of us to live in the moment and not under appreciate what is happening in our lives right at this very moment.

At their recent pediatrician visit, the doctor said that at their current growth rate Jack will be taller than John and Luke will be the same height as John. They were ecstatic at this news. But, my boys will realize soon enough that growing bodies mean growing responsibilities. But for now, I'll try to help them savor childhood while they can still hide in the smallest of spaces.