Monthly Archives: February 2015

Is society letting down our children?

This won’t be the first post on the topic, but I watched a documentary film last night that  got the wheels turning.  A question in my mind for some time has been, “What happens in a society that turns it’s back on it’s children?”  In this case, what happens when greed begins to blur the lines of rightness, and the consequences could take years to overcome, if in fact they are reversible.  I encourage you to watch the film.  Follow the link:

http://www.boughtmovie.net/free-viewing/

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Army Guys

(New and more attainable goal is three posts a week.)

During my morning shower, as I glanced at the small pile of plastic Army figurines in the corner of the tub, I was reminded of their significance in our family.

On a side note we have had toys left in the bath tub for the last 14 years, left behind after one of or more of our boys are done cleansing themselves in the murky water of the deep. This still happens now because our oldest, who lands on the high functioning end of the Autism Spectrum (Asperger’s) loves taking baths, and loves using his vivid imagination to reenact battle scenes he reads about in his World War 2 books. At least we don’t have to do full-blown Civil War reenactments.

Back to plastic Army guys and their significance in our family. Three points.

1. I’m a Quaker (Friends) minister, and adopt much of the theology, philosophy, and interpretation of the Friends’ Church. Historically and currently, part of the Friends’ testimony includes peace, which encourages us to live in peace with other people in the normalcy of everyday life, and in the context of all of humanity situated around the world. Having Army guys in the house, and one son who is into studying World War 2 and everything about airplanes, could be a bit of a dilemma, but generally has led to good conversations and a healthy understanding and view of both the peace testimony and war. Having Army guys in the house allows us the opportunity to share our thoughts, beliefs, and opinions with one other.

2. Having Army guys in the house has allowed my boys to have fun at my expense. A few years ago they pulled off a very good prank lasting a few weeks, if not more. At the time I was working as an AFLAC agent, and had to dress “professionally” on a regular, if not daily, basis. (Even though I showed up to what I didn’t know was an interview in a hoodie, cargo shorts, and crocs.) One afternoon when I was gone the boys went in to my closed and strategically placed Army guys in several of the pockets of my nice shirts and pants. Most of the time I would find the Army guys when I was getting dressed. However on occasion I would be in a meeting or meeting with a client when I would reach into my pocket and pull out a small plastic Army figurine ready to shoot me in the face. Having Army guys in the house allowed my sons the opportunity to be creative and pull a prank on me.

3.  Having Army guys in the house allows for imaginations to be used and for fun to be had together. Many battles have taken place on a bedroom floor between my sons and the platoons of Army guys stretched before them on the bedroom floor. The creativity in destroying each other’s well thought out plans of attack was masterful. Because of technology, that’s what I blame it on any way, creativity and imagination are not allowed to run as wild as they once were, and if plastic Army guys have helped to encourage these two things in our house I support them %100. The other benefit is that during the course of play my sons interact(ed) with one another in a generally positive and encouraging way. Having Army guys in the house encourages the use of imagination, and spending time together.

Other toys can accomplish two of these three things as well, but there wasn’t a pile of those other toys in the bath tub this morning, so Army guys got the nod.


Board Games and Re-Start

Two weeks after starting this blog I fell back into my normal pattern of starting something (a great idea) and keeping it in the idea phase. Not his time though. Consider this a re-start.

For those who don’t know, I coach basketball at the high school level, the Junior Varsity team to be exact. Now that our season is over I can devote my mornings to writing, instead of heading to the gym to open the gym up for practice at 5:30 AM. I’m not making excuses, but am recognizing a reality that I was trying to cram too much in to my day, and my creative moments of quiet found me struggling to stay awake. Here’s to another try!

Last night after dinner I played checkers with two of my boys, while their older brother finished homework, beating them soundly each game. Most of the time I like playing games, board games, card games, etc. with my boys and last night was no exception. Game playing gives our family a way to spend quality time together while engaging the mind and having conversations that generally improve our relationships with one another.

A few months ago I was meeting with some members of our community about starting a “homework club” for some of the students in our schools. During the course of our conversation I shared that just playing simple board and card games with the children would be a meaningful experience. One of the people present also worked in our elementary school and shared how a good number of students in our schools have no idea how to play board games.

While this makes me sad on many levels, I also see the opportunity to teach these young people, and also to encourage parents to spend time with their children playing games. The alternatives of playing video games, and watching television and movies for hours on end do not excite me, nor do they stimulate the minds of young children the way conversation and a board game can.

Take some time to play a game with your kids today.


Post 7: What I Am Thinking About Today

While, still narrowing down my goal and purpose for the content of this blog, besides a desire to write and share my ideas, I am aware that while I have a sense of needing to connect with parents to encourage and challenge them, I’m not quite sure how best to go about doing so without coming across like I know it all.  Because, and this will come as no shock to those who know me, I don’t know everything there is to know about parenting, and probably never will.

I don’t want to write as someone who feels like they have it all together, and my true hope is that you all won’t read it that way.

I don’t know everything about parenting, but I do have a few ideas about some foundational truths that hold parenting and families together.

I have only read a couple of parenting books in my life and neither of them were great reads, although I did take something away from them.

Perhaps that is my goal for what I want to create and do with this blog and anything that may come with it.  Perhaps my desire is for people, myself included, to just take something away from what I share.  Something that might help them in life and in their role as parents.

I read today about making sure the purpose and message of a blog is clear and well understood.  In my reading I learned this could often take up to a year to figure out.  At this point my goal is simply to write, and start sharing my ideas freely with the small section of the world that happens to wander by.

Actual writing on parenting is coming, I promise.


Post 6: Thank you

My goal is to write and post to this website six days a week, taking a break only on Sunday.

I didn’t write or post anything yesterday. I’m not beating myself up over my lack of writing though, choosing instead to refocus my goal, and be more disciplined in the process.

I could have posted something yesterday but I chose to turn my alarm off and sleep in on my day off and one of the only days of the week I don’t have to get up early.

After sleeping in, drinking some coffee, and throwing some clothes on after a quick shower I met the guys from the Junior Varsity basketball team for breakfast at Owyhee Lanes and Restaurant before heading to the high school for a shoot around in preparation for our game last night.

When the shoot around was over we had practice for the 5th and 6th grade team my middle son, Jacob, is on. I co-coach the team when I can make the games and practices.

At home, after practice was over, we had lunch and then we all rested on the couch while watching a movie from the 1980’s together. This is a favorite hobby of mine, introducing my boys to movies I watched as a child. Some 1980’s movies are better than others (read Goonies is better than all of them).

When the movie was over I got ready for my game, while Heidi and two of the boys prepared to go to Jacob’s game. Samuel, my oldest son, hung out with me at the gym during the games.

My team was victorious, and when we got home I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, so I sat on the couch and numbed by brain before going to sleep for a few hours.

This morning Jacob had two more games at 8:00 and 11:30. For the weekend his team went 1-2. Between games we went to Flying M for coffee in downtown Nampa, and then walked down to Vintiques to wish Jake and Skee a happy one year anniversary of being in business!

We got home with 4 of us after the game, Jacob spent the afternoon paintballing with some of his friends, and spent the afternoon relaxing and working on some projects around the house. Braden and I enjoyed a walk around town to purchase a few things, and I simply enjoyed being outside on such a nice day.

I continue to work out the nuances of this website and my idea of creating a resource for parents. The ideas are in my head, on paper and part of sorting my thoughts out includes writing this blog, processing with other people, spending time with my family, and living the life I have been called to live to the best of my ability.

Thanks for being with me during this first week. I expect writing and focus to improve as I carve out more time to work on my craft and streamline my thoughts and ideas.


Post 5: Song of the Week

A weekly feature (until I run out of songs), featuring my “dad” song of the week.  This week’s song is Take ‘Em Away, sung in the video by Old Crow Medicine Shot.  I don’t know every reason why I like this song, but I do know it speaks to me and some of my condition.  Sometimes when I listen to this song it is a prayer for me.


Post 4: Realizations and Reminders

I left the house this morning at 5:20 and I got home tonight at 11.  During the day I came home for a half an hour at lunch.  I saw Heidi, my wife, for a few hours this morning at work, and at lunch.  I didn’t see my sons at all.

I’m not happy about how today went down for several reasons, with the main one being what was supposed to be a family night at home did not happen.

My work-related reason for not being home tonight was valid, and for privacy won’t get in to the details, but I still don’t like that I missed dinner, doing homework, and relaxing with my family tonight.  Tonight was one of two nights at home this week, and I was really looking forward to our time together as a family.

While themes of boundaries, priorities, and saying no are running through my head I have also had some realizations and reminders as I reflect on my day.

1.  I have to trust that since this is not a normal occurrence that my sons will not be scarred for life because I missed dinner and an evening at home.

2. I love my family and spending time with them is one of the most important things to me.

3.  In the midst of busyness, family time is important.

  1. I am thankful for Heidi and her presence and role in my life and the boy’s lives.
  1. While my “calling” might lead me to spend time helping other people, the most important time I can spend is with my family.

Post 3: A Bit of an Explanation

“I am not the world’s greatest dad!”

Of course this statement opposes the more popular saying about dads we see on mugs and T-shirts proclaiming fathers everywhere to be “the world’s greatest dad” or “the world’s best dad!”

My statement and the title of this website I can live up to honorably and with integrity.  The other statement about world greatness?  Not so much, I try not to live out lies.

But … and perhaps this is a big but, my recognition of not being the world’s greatest father does not stop me from trying to be the best father I can be.

Not being the world’s greatest dad takes the pressure off of me as I strive to do my best as a father and be awesome in the process.  This title allows for opportunities to get parenting right, otherwise known as mistakes, and allows for learning to take place.

My goal as a father is to be the best dad I can be while maintaining my uniqueness and identity in the process.  I know full well that there will be times when I don’t “father” very well, and I try not to beat myself up in those moments, choosing instead to focus on improving and doing better the next time.

I love being  a dad, and I enjoy the process of trying to figure out how to parent well.  Sometimes I do an excellent job of this and sometimes I don’t, and I am OK with both.


Post 2: Time

I’m a part of a “Man Club” (my name for it), that meets on the first Monday of every month at my friend’s house.  Our second such gathering just finished an hour ago and I am happy to announce that none of us have cried yet.  We get together, guided by a video and workbook with questions, to discuss matters related to manhood such as parenting, marriage, faith, work, and being the best versions of ourselves.

At one point tonight our discussion turned to practical and concrete ideas for ensuring good relationships with our children both now and into the future.  We were not looking to make a list but our conversation focused on time, honesty, and making sure to tell our children that we love them.   Today’s post will focus on time.

My oldest son received several model airplanes for Christmas this year and because he needs help with activities involving fine motor skills I have been helping him build the first model, a B-17 Bomber which will hang from his bedroom ceiling upon completion.  I don’t have time to fully introduce my oldest son to you in today’s post but I want you to know that Asperger Syndrome does not define him but rather allows him to approach and embrace life from a perspective different than my own.

On the day we first started working on the model plane my oldest son shared with me that working on the model was a good project for father and son bonding time.  Evidently, as it came out in the course of our conversation he was under the impression that things had not been going well between the two of us and we needed this time together as father and son.  While I assured him everything was good between the two of us, I couldn’t agree more that spending time together as father and son was always a great idea.

We work on the model together when time allows.  This involves me and my limited model building skills doing most of the work while my oldest son helps where he can while sharing with me facts and stories about B-17’s.  We have a good time together until the fumes from the paint and glue force us to take a break.

Time with our children is time well spent for several reasons, some of which I will mention here.

1) Our relationships with our children are important and we must spend time nurturing these relationships.  Perhaps as our children grow older a nurtured relationship will keep us close with them.

2) Spending time with our children doing something they enjoy or are interested in shows them we love them.

3) As we spend time with our children we have the opportunity to talk with them.  Not only do we learn more about each other, but opportunities for teaching and learning life lessons also occur.

4) Families are supposed to spend time together.  Parents and children are supposed to spend time together.  In a world of busyness, time spent with our children shows them they are important to us.

Time is important, and since I only have a few minutes to post this to reach my goal of posting something every day of the week except for Sunday, I must finish this brief and perhaps unfinished post.

As parents time spent with our children is time well spent.  I’m still learning this lesson after 14 years of parenting, perhaps you can learn this with me, and even teach me something along the way.