Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Lyrically, Darius Rucker has become quite family-oriented since his Hootie and the Blowfish days. One gets a sense that his music has become very auto-biographical, and as any marketer these days will tell you, “Story sells.” And if you can draw someone into your personal story like Rucker does, well that’s just golden. He has done that with me, more than once.

The song that inspired this post is “It Won’t Be Like This For Long”.  And like any good storyteller, Darius directs me to introspection, especially where it concerns my beautiful sixteen-year-old daughter:

“…when he drops her off at preschool, she’s clinging to his leg
The teacher peels her off of him, he says, “What can I do?”
She says now don’t you worry, this’ll only last a week or two
It won’t be like this for long
One day soon you’ll drop her off, and she won’t even know you’re gone
This phase is gonna fly by if you can just hold on
It won’t be like this for long
Some day soon she’ll be a teenager, and at times he’ll think she hates him
Then he’ll walk her down the aisle and he’ll raise her veil
But right now she’s up and cryin’, and the truth is that he don’t mind
As he kisses her good night and she says her prayers

… And just watchin’ her it breaks his heart, ‘cause he already knows
It won’t be like this for long.”

Now, my daughter was seven years old when I met her. So recollecting our history together leads to a bit of pining for missed chances, daydreaming about what might have been, and sadness about the lack of early birthday photos together. I never even got to see her head off to preschool. I get the teenager years, but missed the earlier things. I would have loved to have been her Daddy when she was that cute little squirt I never knew.

Just when I become maudlin, it’s Hootie to the rescue once again – this time from a song called “This” (and the family-centered lyrics are, again, dazzling in their poignancy):

“Got a baby girl sleeping in my bedroom and her mama laughing in my arms
There’s the sound of rain on the rooftop and the game’s about to start
I don’t really know how I got here but I’m sure glad that I did
And it’s crazy to think that one little thing could’ve changed all of it
Maybe it didn’t turn out like I planned, maybe that’s why I’m such, such a lucky man

For every stoplight I didn’t make
Every chance I did or I didn’t take
All the nights I went too far
All the girls that broke my heart
All the doors that I had to close
All the things I knew but I didn’t know
Thank God for all I missed, ‘cause it led me here to this”

Rucker got to savor those very early moments, and I didn’t. But Lord only knows how badly I’d have screwed things up if I’d been there in those early years for my little girl. I am fairly certain I wasn’t the man I needed to be in those days, and my immaturity would have been a bad, probably flammable, influence.

So instead of dwelling on the baby girl I didn’t meet until she was seven, I thank God for the path he sent me on that got me here. When I was in college, I had no idea that this is where I was headed. When I bought my first car, when I spent all those lost weekends following the local Atlanta bands, when I packed up my things and moved out of my folks’ home, when I turned down that one job and took that other one…

Thank God for all I missed, ‘cause it led me here to this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We often think about the paths we didn’t take. What decisions have you made that, at the time sounded like steps backward, but turned out marvelous? Tell your story in the comments below.

 

 

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s almost April already. I had so many plans that should have come to fruition by now. I distincly remember last November thinking that January, maybe February at the latest would be the month where my free time finally became available to me again. Ha! No such luck.

Although I continue to make progress on my to-do lists, I always seem to remain “just a few more weeks” away from that mythical situation – a day with nothing special going on and the opportunity to just head out on an adventure or two. It’s like the shimmery mirage in the desert that keeps just out of reach even though you keep walking toward it.

So I set deadlines and make lists, because without them I would simply flop around the living room in confusion, making whimpering noises and wiping the drool from the corners of my mouth.

Pappy will be moving in next Saturday. Which means that my son has to move out of his old bedroom and into the new one by Friday night. Which means that construction on the new bedroom has to be complete by Thursday night. Which means that I have to finish painting in there tonight. Oddly enough, I could have had the room finished two months ago, but nobody gave me a concrete deadline. Or rather, they kept moving the deadline back because they weren’t ready, which was okay with me and gave me time to procrastinate by tackling other things on other lists. There are always LOTS of things on LOTS of other lists. We spent our last three-day weekend going through 800 lbs of paperwork that has accumulated over several years (no really, 800 lbs!).

I will have earned my vacation, which occurs in a week. I’m not going anywhere, I just need the rest. Unfortunately, the kids also have that week off from school, so they’re likely to want to do, go, see, call, shop, visit, play and watch something every couple of hours. They don’t have the imagination that kids used to have coming up with inventive ways to entertain themselves. Don’t get me wrong – I remember being incredible bored an awful lot as a kid, but I certainly knew that I couldn’t count on my folks to hand me something entertaining to do. It was up to me and my friends to invent something to occupy us.

I can see that I am going to have to create some firm but artificial deadlines in my life if I’m ever going to see a day where I can once again say, “I’ve got nothing to do. Let’s do something fun today.” Maybe in a week or two. Or a few weeks after that.

Wednesday March 26, 2008 – 03:42pm (EDT)

Stardust – Making Fantasy Fun Again

Posted: March 21, 2009 in Fun
Tags: ,

It is so refreshing to find a movie that our whole household had fun watching. This one had me fondly reminiscing about Princess Bride, Time Bandits and Big Fish. Too many films in the fantasy genre have gone so dark and sinister (not to mention heavily occult), relying on CG to make up for lack of plot. Stardust is a happy, fun and captivating example of whimsical storytelling. Who cares if you know early on that there’s going to be a happy ending?

Our family has had a hit-or-miss track record lately with our movie rentals. They were fine for two or three out of the four of us, but there was always one or more of us who left the room because they had lost interest. Often the content was too outrageous because of the uncomfortably frequent expletives or otherwise vulgar dialogue, but usually it was the seemingly requisite naked-humping-actors-within-five-minutes-of-the-title-sequence (seems an R rating is the new X). A couple of times we returned the rental before we had finished it, because we were just too bored to go on (we usually split movies over two or more evenings, especially during the week).

I thought maybe it was because most of our recent rentals were serious dramas. Stardust looked like the answer to that; some fantasy, some humor, a little drama, some romance and a PG-13 rating. Something fun and light to break us out of our rut. I picked it up, and grabbed Across the Universe as well (haven’t watched that one yet; maybe this weekend).

I’m so happy to report that the streak has been broken. We were entertained like we haven’t been in a very long time. I think we each enjoyed it for different reasons, but we had fun spending this time together laughing and smiling and watching the story play out. It was such a delightful experience that we’re considering purchasing a copy, and the next day I wrote an online review at Blockbuster and at Yahoo Movies. And now I get to look forward to watching films with the family again.

Friday February 22, 2008 – 09:42am (EST)

This quote has been credited to Mark Twain, Dave Ramsey and MacMcMillan, but most sources attribute it (or something very close to it) to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: “You’re the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

I have always been a ravenous reader; mostly I have read fiction, and it used to be that you would usually find me re-reading an old favorite. It was often because my reading schedule moved faster than my book-buying schedule. There’s something exasperating about having thousands of books in the house, all of which I have read at least once before, but being in a mood for something new. Lately I’ve kept stocked up, and tried to pick up five or six books at the used bookstore at a time. I’ve also discovered much more nonfiction in my rotation in the last couple of years.

A couple of months ago I found in the library’s sale bin “The End of Marketing As We Know It” by Sergio Zyman, former CocaCola executive and scapegoat for the “New Coke” mess. I still don’t know why it caught my eye, but I’m glad it did because I really enjoyed it.

Someone gave me (and everyone else on their Christmas list) Bill Bennett’s two volumes on US history, “America: The Last Great Hope”. I looked forward to it, because I have noticed that sometime in my early thirties I had developed an interest in history. It was a fun read, but every once in awhile (especially when writing about events in his own lifetime) he would let his personal prejudices slip through. To his credit, the rest of it was an entertaining and unbiased look at world events and America’s place in them.

I am currently re-reading The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis). This book continues to creep me out, because I feel like I have fallen in real life for some of the diabolical tactics that Lewis’ fictitious demons employ. I’m currently leading a Bible study on this book; hopefully this will give me a chance to scripturally work out some of my doubts, questions and heretic thinking on the subject of Satan and evil. Something about teaching a subject helps embed it into your mind quite firmly, especially if you try to be thorough doing the research. The same thing happened when I taught the high-school youth group at our previous church; it helped me put together the lessons that I wanted my own kids to learn.

I wrote this down on an index card in 2004, after observing reluctance by one of my kids to participate in one of their classes: “Learning is one of the few things, maybe the only thing, that immediately becomes easier once the decision is made to pursue it as a goal. Without that desire, it becomes only a difficult chore.”

I’ve run through all of the nonfiction books I had available and will have to find a new one soon. I should probably set aside a few minutes this week to think about what topic I would like to learn about.

Wednesday February 13, 2008 – 10:49am (EST)

Snow Day

Posted: March 21, 2009 in Fun, Life
Tags: , ,

Despite a long list of things I need to do today, I found myself ditching responsibility and starting a game of Euro Rails with my teenage son. Ordinarily this would mean a three-hour stretch of fun and strategy, but the gloomy weather saturated his attitude and his mood turned decidedly sour after a costly screwup.

One of the primary tasks in the game is planning a course based on available funds. The last couple of times we’ve played he set out on a course of action only to discover too late that he wasn’t able to finish. And despite my warning before we began today, it happened again. He got petulant, whined about changing the rules to rescue him, refused to look at alternate ways out of the mess, and finally just quit. Which would have been okay, but he spent the next fifteen minutes justifying himself – and I had no interest in hearing it. So I excused myself and tried to pick my own spirits up.

About fifteen minutes after his storm blew over, I had the Ward Cleaver opportunity with him. He had just about made up his mind that it was the game itself that caused the problem, but I reminded him that he was in foul spirits already and that the reason we almost always pick that game (or one like it) is because we usually enjoy playing it. I tried to show him how if he can spot his mood earlier next time, he might be able to avoid situations that will ultimately cause him grief.

I don’t know how much of the “teachable moment” talks get through. But it’s the kind of thing a parent has to say, on the longshot chance that something will stick. For as much as I remember of my own childhood (a lot), I don’t remember very many meaningful tv sitcom family lectures from my folks. Mostly I just remember that like most of my friends, we were terrified of “getting in trouble”, and would behave ourselves a great deal of the time because of it. I don’t think a lot of families have that dynamic anymore. Which explains quite a lot.

I mentioned the weather earlier in this post – it snowed today, which is odd because it’s the second time this week. Ordinarily we are lucky to see snow once a year. And it was the thick, fat slushy kind of snow that makes you feel like your inside a snowglobe. I haven’t seen a prettier snowfall in over a decade, so it was nice to watch it for awhile.

Saturday January 19, 2008 – 05:20pm (EST)