Sunday, October 19, 2008

Psssst ... Your Epidermis is Showing

" It is clear enough that you are making some distinction in what you said, that there is some nicety of terminology in your words. I can't quite follow you. " ~Flann O'Brien

"The reproduction of mankind is a great marvel and mystery. Had God consulted me in the matter, I should have advised him to continue the generation of the species by fashioning them out of clay." ~Martin Luther

Now, I am certain, in my vast reading audience, that at least a few of you learned this phrase and used it repeatedly in elementary school. Where did the first kid learn this? It could have been a biology student who whispered it to several seventh graders during lunch, who likewise used it to horrify their second and third grade siblings that evening over dinner. It could have been a result of parents who were trying to teach their kids “correct terminology” for the skin of the Homo sapien corpus. Who knows.

I do see a trend in my generation of parents who are teaching their kids “correct terminology.” While this is generally considered to be a good thing, it does create room for some uncomfortable situations that make you wish they were simply teasing each other about their epidermises. My daughter has educated more than one of her friends on occasion, the most memorable being when she was three and corrected her four-year-old friend as he referred to the primary distinguishing part of the male anatomy. (They were watching me change my infant son’s diaper, so it was perfectly appropriate that they should be discussing the subject. Just thought I should clear that up.)

Two years later, my son asked his preschool teacher during a diaper change (it was holiday season) if Baby Jesus had – well, that particular part. Once she recovered from choking, she hit the question back into his court, saying, “Well, he was a boy, so what do you think?”

“Me think he do,” he replied with a smile of confident satisfaction.

(There is a second part to this story, but in an effort to be family-friendly, you will have to ask me about it later if you really want to know.)

Let’s just say, by 2:00, the story had made the rounds among the teachers (most of whom were former co-workers of mine at that same fine institution.)

Pick-up time proved to be a moment of great motherly pride.

Another time, my daughter’s assured choice of vocabulary sent my own mother to blushing. Sorry, Mom. =)

This week, my daughter’s fourth grade teacher stopped me in the hall after school. “I have a great story for you,” she said. “We’re studying living organisms in science class …”

Uh oh.

I braced myself.

“We were talking about how one of the distinguishing characteristics of a living organism is the ability to reproduce …”

Now I was looking for a place to hide.

“… and out of the blue, your daughter said, ‘Well, what if your parents don’t know what that means?’”

I still have no idea what she meant by that, and subsequent conversations with her revealed nothing except that she (perhaps conveniently?) remembers the whole story differently. I’m sticking with the teacher’s rendition here, though, because it’s priceless.

“I was going to just let the comment go,” she continued, “but D.Q. turned to her and said, …

“Well, they had YOU, didn’t they??”

I’m thinking, if anyone needs help sharing the facts of life with their elementary student, just let me know. I know a class of fourth graders who might be glad to help. =)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hay, now, focus … focus …

“The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.” ~Doug Larson

“I have learned the secret of being content in any situation; whether well-fed or hungry …” The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:12

Contentment is not one of my son’s strong points. He is a man on a mission.


Mom, I’m hungry.

Can I have a snack?

I want a peanut-butter banana now.

Mom, I’m still hungry.

Can I get some milk?

I want something else to eat, Mom.

Can I have some pepperoni?

But, Mom, I’m starving!!

And all of that within a 45 minute period, mind you.

Though it is not uncommon for his "mission" to involve food, even in other areas of his life, the boy is single-minded; he always has been.

I pray frequently that God will capture, tame, and use this trait for good. While it can frequently be frustrating or annoying to me at times, I know that he has the potential to get his head and heart wrapped intensely around following hard after God. Truly seeking Him first, and His righteousness, if you will.

We went on a school field trip to a farm on Friday.The agenda included learning about how pumpkins grow, a hayride, some games, roasting marshmallows, and a take-home pumpkin for every participant.

I’m convinced there’s something about being “down on the farm,” that releases the “boy” in boys, and the hay and play barn was an especially big hit. I wanted to take some pictures, but I’m really not sure what I was thinking when I decided to actually enter the barn (filled with approximately thirty running, jumping, playing kids). As I rounded a stack of bales, I spied my son showering another student with an overflowing handful of hay. This particular child did not seem very pleased, and his glare clearly displayed his irritation. I immediately shuffled over to help the boy brush the mess off, while at the same time chastising my child for committing such a heinous offense. As I recall, the conversation went something like this …

Me: “Hey! Stop that!” (My child began scooping up another handful, so my intensity increased rapidly.) “Don’t throw hay on someone unless he wants you to; do you understand?”

Him: “OK, then I’ll throw it on YOU!”

I wonder now, if I had chosen a different pronoun, if my son would behaved differently, but under the circumstances, he acted on impulse, delivering the hay even as he delivered the words.

When I emerged from the barn moments later, all of my little Mommy friends gaped in some sort of mock horror.

“Oh no! What happened to you!?”

Yeah, like you can’t tell.

I’m sure the hands clasped over their open mouths were really to hide their “ha, ha, you asked for it by going in there, you silly girl” snickers.

With the exception of the joy he found in the hay barn, my son spent the better part of the day discontent with whatever activity we were currently participating in. Instead, he asked me frequently when he would get his pumpkin. He was unsatisfied with my “right before we leave” answer, and with the “so we don’t have to carry it around” logic.

We have to eat lunch now, because we won’t have time once we get started.
“We’re going to get pumpkins, right? Can I have mine now?”

Come on, it’s time for the pumpkin growing video!
“Boring. When do we get our pumpkins?”

OK, now we're moving over to do the scarecrow-dressing race.
“I want to go get my pumpkin now.”

Look! We get to roast marshmallows!
“I don’t like marshmallows. I want my pumpkin.”

Yeee-haw! Time for the hayride!
“But when do I get to pick out my pumpkin?”

Yes, he was obsessive. Yes, it was distracting to him, and frustrating to me. Yes, he would probably have had more fun on the farm if he’d enjoyed the rest of the activities, too, but I think there is a lesson for me here. My son spent the entire day focused on the reward he would receive at the end. I'm talkin', the dude was fixated.

I do believe God wants us to find the joy in the journey of life. But, along the way, how frequently do I settle for what I like to call "contentment", but what actually leans more toward complacency? How often do I find my focus slipping from what, or Who, really counts?

“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~Colossians 3:1-2

(If you look reeeeeealy closely, you can see the long-desired prize - a "ghost" pumpkin!)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Well, I, For One, am Completely Floored!

“No new projects at the moment. There are restrictions to how much I can take on. And I need to finish those that I am committed to do before thinking ahead. But I'd rather they take final shape before we talk of them.” ~Amitabh Bachchan

“The way to push things through to a finish effectively must be learned.” ~William Frederick Book

“There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on.” ~Robert Byrne

And the crowd goes wild …

I could go on and on about how it took me five weekends, and then some, to install my laminate. I could rant about the baseboards that fit better before they came off the wall than they did going back on, or pout because there are still five small pieces that I cannot seem to locate. I could bend your ear about reducer boards that don’t fit like they propose to or the fact that the whole idea of snap-together flooring means that one, hypothetically, should not have to utilize wood glue. I could choose to whine about the relationship between my hacking cough and the insane amount of sawdust in my garage or the (obligatory) hammer-smashed fingers.

But, I won’t. Because that would just be annoying.

First of all, let me say that kids are amazingly sound sleepers. You would think that repeatedly hammering on the outside of the wall to their rooms would bring them to consciousness, but no. Not so much.

That said, much to my husband’s chagrin, I determined to finish the floor last night. And I did. (Well mostly, but I won’t go there. Let’s just say it’s done.) This morning the kids and I celebrated. I celebrated being “done” and the kids celebrated that their mom was released from an all-consuming task.

(Don’t enjoy the revelry too much, guys. Think: caulk, paint, …)

Thank you to all of you who loaned me power tools, encouraged me, gave advice and suggestions, left inspiring comments, asked me (repeatedly) about my floors, and just overall gave me a good-natured hard time. You are truly, um ... gifts.

So, come on over and have a look.

Oh, and the broom is in the garage; feel free to sweep up the confetti while you’re here. I’m going to take a nap.

We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)