Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Change the voices in Your Head Part II


Every once in a while  I look at my middle child Brandon and see such a quiet and gentle boy who tells me often he loves me with no initiation on my part.  I’ll get statements from out of nowhere from him like

“Dad, I love you”
“Dad, thanks for spending time with me”
“Dad thanks for taking me to lunch”
“Dad thanks for riding bikes with me”

This kid either knows how to play the “Get stuff from dad” game, or from what I am seeing is just a sweet guy.  He is also an 8 year old with a 6-pack set of abs.

Recently Brandon has gotten back on his bike.  He didn’t ride it all summer since for one reason or another, but now that it is the fall season we have taken up to going around the area for about 1 to 2 miles.  He is still mastering balance on it and how high he wants his seat in order for him to be comfortable riding while not fearing falling over.

If you bike at all, you know seat position is very important, when peddling you want as close to a full leg extension as possible to use all the muscles and get full range.  Well, that requires the seat to be a bit higher than what Brandon likes.  Since it is a position of balance, he likes to sit lower.  This causes him to work a lot harder at moving the bike forward, but it makes him comfortable.

So, this week I decided to try out the new bike trails by our house.  The trails themselves aren’t finished yet, they are still compacted gravel.  I asked my daughter Katie if she wanted to go on an adventure with me on our bikes and she said yes.  Brandon quickly piped up ‘Can I come too Dad?”

Oh man.  I initially was about to tell him no.  The way is moderate to heavy hills and it’s GRAVEL.  I know Katie could make it, since she was riding her bike during the summer and had 2 years of muscle development on Brandon.

I decided to do what any good parent would.  I would make it sound so awful that he would want to stay home.

And I almost did. 

I realized Brandon isn’t going to get better if I keep him from something that might be difficult or that he might fail at, or even worse find out middle of the way through that if he doesn’t stay committed that he won’t make it back home.  What 8 year old can comprehend that? 

As a parent of three children, I have a deep desire to see them succeed.  I purposefully set up things for them that will cause them to succeed or even fail so they can learn something from it.  I also have a belief that it is my responsibility to turn out fully functional adults at age 18.  I have a sick idea that if I can’t do that I will be a failure as a parent and a teacher.

But this lesson, this time, was going to be different.  This was a “as soon as you commit you have no choices but to continue” lesson.  And it was going to be Brandon’s first.

Getting our riding gear on I failed to notice that Brandon was riding while wearing his sandals.  Not the sharpest crayon, Brandon unlike Katie will have to marry for money instead of love it appears. :)

We had hit the trail when I realized how difficult it was going to be riding.  The gravel, although compacted would shift a bit under our tires, like sand.  The first portion of the ride was downhill and I told both Katie and Brandon to get use to what the terrain feels like under them.  Nothing can beat practical experience sometimes.  Except for ice cream, ice cream beats everything.
We had passed some group of teenage boys who were walking the same direction as us and within 5 minutes hit our first hill, which happened to be the worst.  I rode up ahead and Katie followed.  The hill curved and Brandon lost site of us.  All of a sudden I heard some yelling.  It wasn’t coming from Brandon though; it was coming from the teen boys we had passed.  I turned my bike around and rode down the hill and curve.  There was Brandon walking and one of the teenage boys had picked up his bike on his shoulder and was running trying to catch up to us.  This teenager must have thought we left Brandon because he was running really hard with Brandon’s bike.  He put the bike down when I reached him and Brandon was close behind him.

I looked at him and at Brandon.  I thanked him for helping Brandon, but informed him it was important for Brandon to make it up the hill by himself.  Whether peddling or walking his bike, Brandon needed to realize he could make it.

Also, I informed Brandon that he seemed to have been presented a different lesson that day.  Sometimes when we least expect it, and when things are getting hard or seem to be insurmountable, a person will come along and help us carry the load.

We finished the trails and headed back home.  It’s only a matter of time when this trail becomes easy to Brandon.  When that day comes, I am sure there will be other trails and other people who will help him along the way.  Life seems to be full of these.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Change The Voices in Your Head


I am pretty sure it is illegal for humans to eat their young.  I am aware of some species of animals that do this.  Mostly, I believe, because the animal parent wants to avoid the complaints from the animal child of not having the newest iPhone.

I don’t have this issue.  My kids are aware of technology, but luckily I’ve kept them in the proverbial dark about how awesome technology is.  I mean, it can do everything.  My phone can unlock my car, and if I spend enough time working at it, my phone can unlock your car.  It can order pizza, translate language and show me how to apply a tourniquet.

That’s cool, and by laws of usage and phone wielding power, it makes me a little cooler as well.

Recently, I had some experiences with my two older children Katie and Brandon.  For her birthday, I was able to get a hold of one of those $99 HP Touchpad’s from Wal-mart.  Don’t ask me how, aside from pure Jesus power was I able to get one of these from Wal-mart customer service rep Chris.  I got home and started setting it up for Katie to use when I gave it to her on her birthday which was in 2 weeks.

Within 5 minutes of working on it in my bedroom, Katie comes walking in and says “WHAT’S THAT?!?!”

Now, as an aside, I did have the door open, and I wasn’t really doing this in secret.  But she saw I had something that resembled an iPad.  I explained to her that it was an HP Touchpad and that I was trying it out since they stopped making them that day.  She was a little saddened and said “So it’s just for you?”  I replied that it was the families and that we all could share.

You might be one of those people who say “Why would you give an 11 year old something so expensive?”  I have a philosophy…well it’s more like guidelines…not really; it’s more like a leaflet of rules.  You see, tech to our kids will be what appliances are to us now.  A tablet is the same as a toaster; it’s just an object that serves a purpose.  Remember the jokes that Grandpa had to call his Grandson to set the clock on the VCR?  Yeah, we are a little bit beyond that in society now.  The VCR is now a mini tower running a Linux kernel OS with an encrypted Hard Drive.  They might even move them to solid state soon. Programming the clock is the least of your troubles.

As a Christian, I have sat in sermons where a preacher or even talking to lay people who would say the computer is from Satan, and not to have one in your home.  You people can not be my friend, because you don’t view these devices for the tools that they are.  You limit your ability to see the possibilities of having access to vast amounts of information to better your understanding of the environment you live in or even to just read a book (please some of you, just read a book) online.  Should you always be connected?  No, but don’t succumb to the Salem Witch trials of 2012.

Back to Katie.  This daughter of mine.  Oy.  She picks up a musical instrument and like a Keanu Reeves wannabe sitting in a Matrix chair and gets the operating manual on how to play these things downloaded into her head by some chord I am sure is in her room.  She’s smart, and I don’t mean just book smart, oh no, she’s that, but she is rocket fuel making kind of smart.  Today we were discussing neutrinos and their ability to possibly travel faster than the speed of light, thereby negating the laws of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and mass density.  Physics could be rewritten. 

Yeah…that’s what I got.

So, she was given this tablet for her Birthday, and last night she decides to write on her FB wall “I’m bored out of my mind.” (Yes I let her on Face Book, yes I police her friends, and yes I go through everything she does.  If you feel the need to question me as a parent, I’ll question your intelligence for judging me by 1 sentence in a paragraph)

Bored out of your what?!?!!?  I sat there and stared at it for a good 2 minutes.  WHAT?!?!  You have close to 200 books to read, or in her case RE-read.  A kindle app that can download anything you want to read.  FOUR musical instruments you know how to play!  A microscope with slides!  Or puzzles!  You have a DOG!  Play…with the DOG!  Vacuum your room!

I called her into the bedroom, and like every good parent asked her “What is this?!”  As I held up my laptop showing her status update and my brilliant daughter looked at me with a blank vacant stare where only crickets could be heard she enunciated what I think was “I unno”

Followed by a shoulder shrug.

I did the normal parent thing for 3 minutes lecturing about stuff and opportunities and benefits and yadda yadda yadda then dismissed her back to her room.

Something turned in me and I knew I wasn’t done.  I waited a few minutes to calm down my disappointment in this person, my daughter.  The one I would rock at night to sleep and sing songs to while she was sick.  No, I wasn't being a dad there, I was just someone who corrected her for a mistake but I didn’t correct what caused the mistake.

Something happens to us as people.  When we grow up, I have no idea what it is but something happens were we go from hopeful to negative; where the positive is a necessity to apathy as a reality.

I called Katie back in to my room and we talked.  We covered how people perceive outside comments like that.  I asked if she wanted to be known as someone who complains.  Someone who focuses so much on self that what is wonderful and fantastic passes you by.  I gave her an assignment.  Find something, anything, once a day that is positive and brings joy to you or others and think about it and post that.  For 1 week, correct your thinking from negativity to something edifying.  You see, that’s application in Christianity.

 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I need to do more than to train my daughter to be exceptional scholastically and in body.  She needs to be spiritually sound too.  If not, she ends up like every other kid that falls down the path of negativity and with the attitude that what they do in life doesn’t matter.  That sense of disconnection starts somewhere with kids.  As a parent, it’s my job to make sure it is corrected.