Filling in the Holes…

When Brad was young, he used to love to dig holes in the ground.  Just random holes.  They would appear with no notice, and the dirt that came out of them would disappear with the same sense of mystery.  It was as if the surrounding earth absorbed it – it ceased to be.

As the years have passed, those holes have begun to fill themselves in, much as Brad’s personality and maturity has grown and filled in.  We still have our struggles, and will continue to do so (he and I share way too many attributes for us to not battle some – it is a long family tradition), but I am very proud of the person he is becoming and look forward to knowing the person he will be.

A perfect example of this happened yesterday.  We were at Camp Cheerio, dropping off Jay (our youngest) for his first time at sleep-away camp.  Brad was already there, as he had been at the Camp Cheerio Extreme the week before and was going to spend a some time at Camp Cheerio proper.  A clerical error had placed Brad in a cabin full of 12 year old 7th graders, instead of the older boys he should have been with.  This normally would not have been a crisis, except that he has to live with one of those creatures, and the prospect of 10 of them for a week was more than he could stand.  The camp director quickly solved the problem, moving Brad to a more appropriate spot.

His mother and I were standing on the other side of the gym, dealing with something for our youngest, when Anne looked over and saw Brad walk up to the camp director, shake his hand, and thank him for taking care of the problem.

I miss the holes, but am looking forward to the filling in.

Disney (Or, How to Break Your Heart In the Happiest Place On Earth)

IMG_2023 The family and I have been in Disney World for the past 5 days, and we have had a spectacularly wonderful time.  I’m not sure anyone does it better than the Mouse.  Anne mentioned “Disney Freaks” last night – those folks who come down here every year.  I don’t think she realized she was talking to one.

That being said, this trip is for my youngest son, Jay.  We were here 4 years ago, and his older brothers have great memories of that trip.  Jay doesn’t have any memories of that trip.

So this trip is about him.

Our first day here was spent in the Magic Kingdom.  “It’s a Small World” gets a bad rap in my book.  Sure the song can be irritating, but riding it with Jay, and seeing it through his innocent eyes, however, restored my faith in the ride and warmed my heart.  This may be the highlight of the trip that will be remembered for the coming years.

Yesterday, we were in the Animal Kingdom, which is our favorite of the four parks. We had enjoyed everything in the park (including riding Expedition Everest twice – a spectacular roller coaster) when it came time to confront “Dinosaur.”

We rode this ride four years ago, and it scared Scott (at that time, the same age as Jay is now) to tears.  He was hesitant, but rode it this time.  The issue we had to confront was Jay.  We had talked with him about the ride, and had explained to him that it was scary, and told him about everything in the ride – we tried to talk him out of riding.

The problem was, his big brothers and cousins were riding the ride.  I cannot imagine the pressure this 6 year old feels to be “one of the guys” – older and wiser than his short life should enable him to be.  We rode the ride – he was sitting beside me, and I was holding his hand, trying to warn him of what was to come.

As the lights came up, I saw him very quickly wipe his eyes dry, and proclaim the ride “AWESOME”!  The poor kid wouldn’t allow himself to cry.

His dad sure wanted to.

My Backup Plan Failed…

and it’s not the one that involved throwing the jeep into reverse and getting out of the way.

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Scott and I were involved in a head on collision yesterday.  Fortunately, thanks to airbags, and my theory of “yield to tonnage,” which is the lighter object should always yield to the heavier one, no one was seriously hurt.

I saw it coming.

I knew it was going to be bad.

My reaction, instead of getting right with my Lord and Saviour this one last time (my backup plan – covering my bases)?

“OH, SHIT!”

Not “Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me of my sins, and should I die from this, accept me into your heavenly kingdom.  I’ve tried hard to obey you, to love you, and to live by your Son’s teachings, but just in case we’re not quite right…”

Too many words for those milliseconds when the white Scion, traveling west on Perry Creek Road at Soccer Center, clipped the teenager using the “ For Entrance Only” as an exit, and came speeding at my jeep, which was quietly awaiting its opportunity to turn into WRAL Soccer Center.

Rather than dwell on the Christian learning experience that this should lead to, I’d rather propose something else.

I’d like to see the phrase “Oh, Shit!” come to mean the very same thing as my prayer above.

It’s shorter.

It’s much easier to say.

It would then cover all the bases.

Call me St. Jimmy.

Making Room… For The Little One.

I present to you, my first “commissioned” gig. A friend at Church called in a panic – they had come up one essay short for the Advent devotional booklet. After clarifying why she didn’t ask in the first place (she believed she already was in my debt for something else – she didn’t want to ask again). Unfortunately, it was a rush. The only thing was it needed to follow a theme of “Making Room…For The Little One”

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The nursery was set. Anne and a friend had painted the room a really pretty shade of blue (“It’s not Carolina Blue, I promise”) with a circus theme – there were elephants on one wall, a giraffe on the other one, balloons on the third, and a train on the last.

Our first son was on the way, and the arrangements had begun. It was the Christmas season of 1995, and after six years of wedded bliss, we were getting ready for what would be, in hindsight, a defining moment of our lives.

Our friends:

“You cannot imagine how things are going to change”

“Your world is going to be turned upside down”

“Get ready – your lives are never going to be the same”

“Ha ha! You’re going to get peed on!” (that was an unmarried friend)

We’d read all the baby bibles: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, “Baby’s First Year” – I’d even bought a copy of “When We Were Very Young” by A.A. Milne. Some traditions must be kept, and I was ready to read the bedtime poetry that was read to me.

We had cleared out our extra bedroom, and our lives, for our first son. We were ready.

And then Brad was born.

We weren’t ready.

Some days, we’re still not ready.

All the reading we had done went out the window. Everything our friends had warned us came true – every last thing.

We had prepared in every way possible, and yet, we still came up short. We had made room for our little one, but until we truly experienced it, we had no idea; no frame of reference.

Advent is the same way. All the excitement. The anticipation. A time of preparation, and yet we’re never really ready for the fullness the coming little one brings. Despite the fact that we do this every year, the thrill of this season builds in us again and again.

Making Room… For The Little One. Let’s celebrate His arrival as we would our own child. Get ready – your life will never be the same.

2007 NC State Fair

Back when I was a published writer (OK, it was the high school newspaper, but I did win 2nd in a statewide competition) I wrote a column (sort of a Blog 1.0 before the internet for you whippersnappers – now get off my lawn!) about the NC State fair.  Now that I am a middle aged father of three, I thought it might be interesting to re-visit what the horny 18 year old Jimmy wrote back in the day.

It was originally my intent to transcribe parts of the column here, and then rip myself to shreds for the hack writing and triteness.  I cannot even bear to do so, as it is really that painful.  I started with a list of the sights and sounds from the fair.  I then go on to profess my love of the fair and how it’s a ripoff, both facts that remain true, twenty three years later.  Then through a series of too short sentences (a style I still employ, but to better effect now I hope), I tell of our visit to the fair and seeing Momba the gorilla girl – a fiction, if my memory serves, to fill column inches and an attempt to be clever.

The 2007 State Fair had many of the same sights and smells I remembered from the 1984 version.  We overheard outside the World’s largest Horse (I think there were three different booths claiming this this year) the announcer invite all comers to “see the giant horseshoe… smell the odor – you’ll know this is a live horse”.  We were obliged to tour the animal exhibits, and were disturbed by the banners hanging over the prize winning cattle as to who the purchaser was – it seems Harris Teeter is a big sponsor of the competition, as they purchased most of the cows.  I am a little concerned as to what the NC Farm Bureau Insurance will be doing the cow they bought.

I guess, in looking back on the 2007 Fair versus the 1984 Fair, I’m a little sad.  The years of smoky room politics that led to Strates Shows fairs for so many years meant that the fair was dirtier.  The element of danger as you rode the rides was palpable, and the fair was just sleazier.  I miss that.  During one of my visits to the 1984 fair, the guys I was with decided that we needed to visit the girly show.  Just down the midway from the freakshow tent, every 30 minutes the barker would attract a huge crowd in front of the huge stage where six or eight reasonably attractive women would come out and strut in whatever little clothing they could get away with.  You would then approach said barker, purchase a ticket, and then cross the stage to enter the tent.

I was at the end of the line of friends to purchase, and as I was making the move to enter the tent, the “beauties” came out for the strut, and I was pinned.  I’m stuck on the steps as the crowd behind me builds.  I’m 18, doing something I CAN do but shouldn’t, and I’ve just realized that my parents were coming to the fair with a bunch of friends that night. I was convinced that I would be busted for sure.

I wasn’t, and soon discovered that they women outside on stage must have had a break coming, as the women inside taking off their clothes were not the caliber of the ones I had seen moments earlier.  I do remember a woman approximately my grandmother’s age doing a dance with a hand puppet to the tune of “What’s New Pussycat”.

The 2007 Fair had hand sanitizers every 30 feet, and the 1984 Fair had shows that required them.

Overheard At Our House

Oldest son, who has this really bad habit of staying up late and playing all the requisite games to do so:

“So I was reading my puberty book, and I’ve gotta ask – what’s the deal with oral sex? That’s nasty”

Mom’s response:

“I got nothing”

Dad’s first thought:

“It’s HAWESOME!”

Dad’s answer:

“It’s a type of intercourse that some people enjoy”

Oldest son:

“Have you ever done it?”

Memo to self: remove puberty book from son’s room

“And what is anal sex?”

Memo to self 2: teach son about not being so inquiitive

Son one last time (after the required clinical explanation):

Doesn’t it hurt?

Dad:

I don’t know son – I imagine so.

Son:

Mom, do you know?

Memo to self 3: Brace yourself for the next 5-6 years