Sunday Post 91: A Different Pace

I attack life with zest and speed.  I don’t get out of the bed easily, but once I do, I move.  The day is before me, and there’s a lot to be done.

Stephanie approaches life in a different manner.  She is thoughtful and methodical.  Her end result is of quality.

I shoot before I aim, marking off of my long to do list when just enough of the task has been done.

She follows the detail – not missing a comma, semicolon or the dot of an i.

Sometimes our two worlds collide.  Actually, my world doesn’t seem to bother her too much.  It’s her world for me that’s occasionally the problem.

When we arrive at our destination, I jump out of the car and immediately press the lock button on my remote.  I’m six steps out before I realize my middle child is trapped in the car.  This is a regular occurrence for the Tanner family.

“What were you doing vacuuming the back seat?  Open your door and move child!  Move!  We’ve got so many things to get done!!”

She simply can’t.  Her pace is not mine.

Her showers are long.  I imagine her every nook and cranny is sparkling clean.  Her sister waits patiently for her turn.

I’m in, and I’m out.  Miss a foot?  No big deal.  I’ll catch it tomorrow, my odor eaters are new.

The other day after dinner we all got ice cream.  Three of us were through and headed out to the car.  Stephanie grabbed some napkins, her cone nearly full.

When we got home, she was still licking.

“I’m just too full.  Anyone want the rest?”

“You only ate half,” my oldest replied.

“Yea,” she replied, she heard fact – not a scold.

I guess I’d have gotten tired of it too had I been chomping on it for 45 minutes.  Sometimes I think her mouth just gets exhausted.  She has all her teeth and a normal sized tongue.  What has she been doing on the 8 mile ride home?

I once had a college roommate who was much the same way.  He ate each of the items on his plate but just one at a time:

Green beans:  check

Fried Chicken:  check

Rolls:  check

I prefer a party in my mouth – a little of this and a little of that.

But eating slow is good.  She ate half of the calories.  I gulped mine on down and was ready for more.

She doesn’t seem to have a desire to change my fast pace.  She’s absolutely content as I speed down the road or through the halls of her school.  She doesn’t get frustrated when she’s locked in the car.  Yes, Stephanie understands that is just who I am.

Isn’t it interesting what we can learn from a child?

It’s My Fault

It’s all my fault.  Yep.  According to my kids, it’s all my fault. 

DJ got into the car today.  Her hands were full: book bag, books and a satchel with her workout clothes.  I’d been waiting in front of school for 10 or 12 minutes and was reading through my daily mail.  When the door opened, I didn’t respond appropriately.

Apparently I should have immediately tossed down my mail and run to the opposite side of the car to help her get in.  What was I thinking?  Just inconsiderate.

The demon possessed person that I am has the audacity to require the two kids in the house who take piano lessons to practice.  How in the world can that be more important than the Disney Channel?  After four years of lessons and $6,000 I should just settle for Chop Sticks and Heart and Soul.  I am so very thoughtless.

Out of milk?  “Daaaaaad!”

Irrelevant that Jesse dropped by and drank two glasses at 10 pm.  Why didn’t I run to the 24 hour grocery store?  Clearly it was open…

I should be investigated by Social Services.

Wear a baseball cap to their school on a morning I don’t have to work?  Emmmbarrrasssing!  I’m such a dork.

“Are you about to go to bed?” I innocently inquire.

Picture the tone – “No!!!  I HAVE MORE HOMEWORK.”

My fault too.  Because apparently I am in cahoots with the History, Math and AP Biology teachers – paying them under the table for more difficult assignments for my child.

Oh, and by the way, all three girls say I favor the others.  “She gets everything!” 

“It’s because I love her more.”

I’m a bad, bad man.

Sunday Post 57: Gourds in the Glad bag

Posted by Danny

I occasionally teach my adult Sunday School class.  We study the bible trying to understand the historical times as well as trying to figure out what it can mean for us today.  By far, my favorite verse to teach was written by the apostle Paul and is in the book of Colossians:  “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

When that verse would appear in a lesson, I would read it slowly, awaiting my wife’s reaction.  She’d grab the sides of her skirt, cross her arms and shift in her chair.  I knew I was treading on thin ice.

Some of the men in class might have wanted to believe this verse was the true desire of God, but our wives wouldn’t let us.  Lisa had a great many talents but submission was not one of them.

As much as I enjoyed sparring back and forth with the women in the class about God wanting them to submit to their husbands, I did not want that in a wife and that is not what I want for my girls. 

Perhaps it’s because I have never seen that exemplified in my family.

We called one of my grandmothers Idee (her name was Ivy).  She did not submit!

One day she came home from work and my grandfather had her housekeeper, Ophelia, out hoeing in his garden.  Idee was not happy.

“Spurgeon!  If you ever come in my house and tell Ophelia to dig in that damn garden, I’ll have your head.  You need a farm hand?  You go find your own!”

The next day he dropped off a crop of squash on Idee’s kitchen counter which he’d grown himself (well, with a little help from Ophelia).  Idee opened the lid of the trashcan and with one swoop of her arm across the formica counter deposited the 12 yellow gourds into the Glad bag.

“Take my maid outside to hoe and then drop these damn dirty vegetables on my counter.  You bring any more of this %$&# in here and I’ll…”  She finished the sentence under her breath.  I intently looked down at The Florence Morning News as if I didn’t hear.

Papa didn’t get mad.  He just laughed it off.  Plus, I think he was scared of her.

Someone recently told me, “Your mother is the sweetest lady.”

Well, she’s sweet, but she’s not the sweetest.  Let’s just say she sometimes has opinions and obviously her mother, Ivy, didn’t set a great example of demure.

Yes – my girls are surrounded by strong women.  Lisa’s sister has a PhD from John’s Hopkins and a MD from Harvard.  She’s going to save the continent of Africa from AIDS.  And the only thing my mother-in-law has ever submitted to was a mandatory drug test upon hire in the local school system (she passed).

My dream for my girls is not for them to submit, in marriage or career, but rather to be confident and sure of what they want and need.  And if any guy thinks he’s gonna come in and find a Tanner girl willing to cater to his every whim, he might get a rude awakening.  Thus far, I see glimpses of thoughtfulness but not a lot of surrender.

Good luck fellas.

Plunge, Plunge, Plunge

Posted by Danny

We have toilet issues. They constantly clog. Seriously, I plunge potties multiple times each week, and this has been going on for years.

Now keep in mind there are two large, six-foot men living in this house. Our intestines are 25 feet long,  and we pack down some food. My favorite meal is my homemade bean dip: refried beans, cheddar cheese, ground beef and hot salsa. The girls and Jesse won’t even look at it. They claim it looks like it has already seen my colon.

I tell them that not all food looks appetizing. The kids’ favorite yogurt squirts out of a plastic tube and looks like pink snot. But you don’t hear me complaining. Why? Cause it tastes good!

I seldom see Jesse eat – but I know he does.  He often enters the house with a styrofoam cup from Cookout, Chargrill or Jersey Mike’s.  The man ain’t going hungry.  And the stuff hitting his stomach isn’t easy on the system.  I can assure you it’s coming out with a bang.

But are the clogs coming from Jesse and me?  Nah.  Out of the 8,672 times I’ve used a plunger in this house, not one – and I am not exaggerating, has been for someone of the male species.  All have been for little girls and usually just for pee. 

It has nothing to do with what’s coming out.  It’s about what they’re putting in there.  It’s all about the toilet paper! 

I swear they’re wiping with my t-shirts.  Like entire, large, possibly long-sleeved, Hanes for Men tees. 

I’m aggressive in my quest to be clean after a bathroom visit.  I understand not wanting to be all damp or squinchy down there.  But geez.  We go through toilet paper like a Chinese restaurant goes through rice.  I bought Proctor and Gamble stock years ago and have made a killing – because I’m keeping them in business!  (They make Charmin.)

I’ve decided to solve the issue. I will ration the toilet paper.  I’m going to buy a metal box and a combination lock where I’ll keep the loot.  If they need to go, they’ll have to come to me.  I’ll give them six squares.  That should be good for three wipes. 

I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Date

Posted by Danny

It’s our first Winter Formal at St. Mary’s School, and it has been two of the most stressful months of my life.

Being an all girls school, some random guy isn’t going to invite you to the dance.  Someone asked me if DJ was going to a Sadie Hawkins Dance – I told her “Every dance at St. Mary’s is a Sadie Hawkins Dance.”

Normally, that would be a good thing.  I fully supported DJ’s decision to attend an all female institution – and my enthusiasm was in part sparked by the lack of testosterone cruising the campus.  Who needs that headache?  I was breaking girls hearts left and right at that age!  I thought myself sort of a young Don Juan, although I’m not sure any of the girls felt the same.

But in this case, I was wishing there were a couple of dudes on campus to take the pressure off me to find her a date.  Well, I didn’t really find her a date.  But I sure did feel the pressure. 

In October I started probing about who she might ask to the big event.  I pulled out last year’s school annual – when she wasn’t at home.  I earmarked several fellas I felt came from good stock and committed their names to memory.

DJ did not ask for suggestions, but I felt compelled to offer a few. 

I suggested the boy with great hair.  He’s like Bieber! I’ll kill to have that mane. Apparently, good hair was not enough.

With no nibble on “Hugh Grant,” I suggested another cute kid from her eighth grade class. 

Apparently he moved to Canada.  I wonder how I missed that.  No problem, we could fly him in I offered.

I also suggested a nice kid we see on our annual trip to West Virginia.  He lives in DC.

It didn’t take long for DJ to inform me that she wasn’t inviting a guy who had to be UPS’d to Raleigh.  I was shocked at her lack of appreciation for my input.  I had put hours of thought into my suggestions.

Each night as DJ calmly ate her dinner, I casually tossed out names: 

“I’m sure that boy on last year’s basketball team would put on a shirt with sleeves for a dance.  Certainly he owns a pair of dress shoes.”

“No one has to know you’re related by blood.  Just tell them you vacation together.”

“The kid who won the science fair last year is bound to grow up and invent something.  You’re doing well in biology.  You could talk to him about that.”

“I know you don’t know him, I don’t either.  But his father is hilarious. And he’s grown this year.”

“I was chubby in middle school too and look how I turned out.”

I suggested boys from church, sons of my friends, and the cream of the crop from our neighborhood, summer camp and beyond.  She was unfazed by my growing angst.

And then one day, as dinner began, she quietly announced, “I have a date to the Winter Formal.”  And…it wasn’t anyone I had proposed.

And that was that.  She didn’t need my suggestions.  She didn’t need airfare.  DJ had it all under control.

I often get accused of “freaking out” by Jesse and the kids, and I regularly dispute their claim.  But I wonder, just wonder, if this could be what they’re talking about.

Sunday Post 51: Building Them Up

Posted by Danny

Sometimes I see my kids get torn down – right to their core.  Occasionally it comes from me…

“Just get your homework done!”

“You’re wearing that?”

“I can’t right now – maybe later.”

Each phrase I carelessly toss out, I later regret.  It’s often not what I say, but how I say it. 

“You’re wearing that?”  Stupid!  I don’t actually say it, but the implication is certainly there.

I hear my girls rip each other down day after day.  I’m sure it’s natural – but I hate it nonetheless.  “Lord knows we’ve learned that the world is a tough place. I tell them.  “Within the walls of this house, we should all be safe.”  Safe to be who we really are without the pressure of living up to another’s opinion.  We should encourage and show each other grace, not cut down or use terse tones.

My argument works – for about an hour.  And then, it starts right over again.

And the hardest for me is when other people tear my kids down.  It usually occurs with a girlfriend – a snide comment about clothes or leaving one out in the lunchroom.  I’m sure my kids do it too.

With all that’s coming at them, I’m not sure how to ensure that my kids grow up feeling good about themselves. 

Periodically, I play a little game with my kids at bedtime.  We list ten things that we love about that kid.  I throw in ideas and they agree or toss in suggestions of their own.  We try to avoid vanilla things like “Stephanie is nice.”  And if we do, we try to break it down to define what nice really means.  And the list is easy – I can think of hundreds of things I love about my girls.

Sometimes my younger girls will say, “Dad, can we make that list about me?”  Come to think of it, I might ask my boss to do the same for me tomorrow.  Sometimes you just need someone to tell you how great you are!

I worry about them.  I want to pummel anyone who doesn’t build them up.  But I guess I can’t.  It’s just not the way you handle life, and, I’m not a very good fighter.

I want to set a foundation that lets them know their father likes them and not just because I have to.  I want them to be able to point out their assets and unique talents.

And maybe, just maybe, the negative things that come their way will more easily slide off.

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