Monday, October 12, 2015
As I had one eye on him, I had another eye on what would be the end of their tranquil morning outing. My son was struggling to get his shoes off, eyes transfixed on the rows of trampolines in front of him. I'm sure that playgroup looked at those trampolines each week and saw a lovely, relaxing morning. Unfortunately for them, my son saw his chance at toddler ninja warrior glory.
I probably should have warned them but I figured my son had already given them a decent warning shot across their bow. Immediately after getting our shoes off, my son ran up to one of the little girls to see hello. The timing could not have been better as the speaker system came to life, and music began booming through the whole place. Little buddy immediately began breaking it down, complete with yelling for the little girl to join in. Needless to say, she didn't join in but merely stared at him with mouth open.
Undeterred, little man moved on to the trampoline stretch occupied by the aforementioned playgroup and began to unleash the hounds on them. As he bounced and shrieked, I had an incredibly hard time holding in my laughter. The dainty girls tried to continue to sit quietly, but that's really difficult to do when a screaming banshee is right next to you.
Ultimately, I had a parenting choice to make. I could quiet my son and ask him to restrain himself at this trampoline park that we had paid good money to enter, or I could have some fun. I chose fun.
I hopped onto the adjoining trampoline and began jumping as high as I could go (not that high really, but toddlers can't tell that just yet). Another little boy came over and joined in. My son screamed his approval.
As the whole place began to shake, the exodus occurred. The mothers and daughters began running for their lives in much the same way that ants run from flowing water. While giving me the dirtiest looks possible, they beat a hasty retreat for the other side of the trampoline park, away from the raucous and unrefined males.
My little man and I had a marvelous time. We jumped and performed semi-dangerous tricks for about an hour. Those little girls didn't get with one hundred yards of us, and that's OK. We had a decision to make and we made it. When entering a trampoline park, you can either jump or you can sit. We chose to jump, and we took no prisoners.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
My wife and I differ in our communication styles. Pretty common for a married couple, but I’ve been struck by a thought recently that perhaps my personal communication flaws may be more a generational problem. At the risk of further admitting that my wife is right about a lot of things (love you honey!), I’m willing to put one of my flaws out there. My communication style is lazy.
What do I mean by this? Well, I grew up with instant messaging, text messaging, and email. It’s a really easy way to communicate and can be very convenient. It’s also very easy for someone to hide behind it. Want to break some bad news or say something that might make people uncomfortable? Send them a text. Don’t have to watch or hear their reaction and the message has been delivered. Want to say you “followed up” on something without really caring whether it happens or not? Send a busy person a two line email that will get buried in their inbox. Mission accomplished! I’ve checked a box off my to-do list without really accomplishing anything.
The more years that go by and the longer I work a real job, I’m much more inclined to “reach out and touch somebody” if there’s something I need to communicate. No, I don’t mean physically lay hands on people, but I do mean either talk in person or call. I’ve found that I can not only confirm that my message has been delivered much better, but whatever task needs to be done actually happens at a much higher frequency when there is a real voice on the other end of the line.
Case in point, I needed my student loan servicer to fill out a form for me. They have a lovely chat function on their website where you can get “instant help.” I hopped on and chatted with customer service rep, who assured me this could be done without an issue. I faxed in my form and waited…and waited. Nothing happened. I got on again. They said they never received the form and to fax it again. I did…with no response.
This happened one more time before I finally called in. After explaining that I was not a happy camper, I was transferred to a “resolution specialist” who physically sat by the fax machine, received my form, signed it, and sent it back. The whole process took twenty minutes. I had been waiting for two weeks.
I know my wife is smiling at this point while reading this. She has been saying for years that this culture of sending email for everything and actually talking to no one slowed everyone down. Well honey, here are those words that you love to hear…you were right. As a culture, we tend to rely too much on technology assisted multi-tasking. We check boxes but don’t really accomplish anything. You want to get something substantive accomplished. Talk to someone. You might even enjoy it.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Sunday, May 31, 2015
I've started gardening here recently. Nothing too complicated. Just four pots with one each labeled tomato, zucchini, cucumber, and squash. You can ask anyone that knows me; this was pretty shocking. I'm not the most handy individual. In fact, I often have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to any kind of home project or yard work. Tim Herlihy can vouch for me back there. He drove by and saw my yard after winter and just shook his head. I could hear him saying,"What is that boy doing?"
Believe it or not, I have managed to get the beginnings of some vegetable plants in my back yard. You see, despite my lack of green thumb or ability, growing vegetables isn't complicated. The ingredient list is short. Seeds, soil, pots, water, fertilizer, sunshine. That's it. Make sure you plant around the right time of year and keep the water and fertilizer coming. You'll have a fighting chance if you do that.
Watching these plants grow every day has been refreshing for me. Unlike us, these plants do not seek answers for their future or what God's will for them might be. The cucumber plant is a cucumber plant. That's what it aims to be. It doesn't try to become a tomato or zucchini. With all of it's needs supplies, the future of these plants is secure. They will become what they're supposed to be. Questioning that would be ludicrous.
The truth is that our questions about Gods will for our lives often sound just as ridiculous as if my cucumber plant were asking them. What job should I work? Should I live in this neighborhood or that one? Its just like my plants asking should I put my roots on this side or that side? Should I catch that raindrop or this one? These are really trivial questions in the grand scheme, and all of them come from an innate need for security and answers despite the fact that God has already provided for our every need no matter what neighborhood we live in.
So lets stop making it complicated. Lets stop being cucumbers trying to figure out if we should be tomatoes. Lets just be God's children and let that be enough.