Parenting 101.1

It seems like there is an entire library of information about parenting that no one really knows about. Now don’t hear me wrong, I love being a dad and I wouldn’t change it for anything…but still, this gig is a surprise every day. 

Let me highlight a few parenting gaffs, childhood wonders and some just plain crazy moments in our home. 

I mentioned in the last parenting post about the rivaling chorus of Tron Legacy and Star Wars. Now, the latest sliver the boys keep pushing under our fingernails is singing a single line of the music playing under Sam Flynn’s first trip to the grid. (If you haven’t seen Tron Legacy, it’s a great movie with a fantastic score composed by Daft Punk.) not only have they been attached to this single line, they sing it over, and over, and over, and over… when we say, “please stop singing that,” or “okay, time to choose a different song,” they sing that much louder with a giant goofy grin smeared across their “innocent” little faces. 

Or here’s a good one. You know when you ask your kid to do something and not only do they not do what you’re asking, they in fact do the complete opposite. For instance, we have a no video policy during the week, especially in the morning when our oldest is getting ready for school. What does my wife find when she gets out of bed yesterday morning? Both boys glued to YouTube, our old hasn’t even gotten dressed, eaten breakfast or made his lunch… needless to say, he got a sermon, and not a snoozer like my old church. 

One of my favorites as well is when my wife and I are in the middle of a conversation trying to work out some important details and the youngest asks a question. Understandable, right? Until we say, “just a second buddy.” Then he proceeds to increase the intensity and frequency by which he is is asking the same question, blatantly ignoring any previous requests to wait. And the stuff that’s not written in any parenting book is how I’m supposed to respond when I’m basically arguing with a door. Usually ego wins out and one of us explodes and the moment between us is lost and we are supposed to try to carry on our conversation 4 hours later when the boys are in bed…yeah, nothing to it. 

Some of the good stuff though, that no one tells you about, is when they put on costumes and march around like house like they really are in a storm trooper battle or ninjas sneaking around the house shooting is with poisonous darts. Or when we have a fleet of paper airplanes that cover the floor. Indoor snowball fights, wrestling matches, crafts, food in every nook and cranny, boogers on every piece of furniture, clothing and bedding. 

Oh the stuff off parenthood that no one tells you. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had. Hopefully they turn out okay because I feel like I’m wrecking them most of the time. But the responsibility and joy we share as we raise these two boys into loving, compassionate (we hope) individuals who will grow up to have a positive impact on the world, is something I will always cherish and take very seriously. 

These kids are awesome and all I’m really doing is hanging on for the ride, trying my best to learn the things they are teaching me rather than the other way around. 

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Ignorance is…

I never understood quite what the phrase “ignorance is bliss” meant until I’d hurdled around the sun 20 or so times on this little blue ball we call earth. 

Even then, in my early 20’s, I think I assumed ignorance meant a lack of knowing details of sorts, that might cause worry or concern. My mother always used the phrase in the context of health or politics. “Ignorance is bliss,” she would say… “If I don’t go to the doctor and find out what this lump is, I don’t have to worry about it.” Or, “if I choose not to uncover the causes for suffering in the world, I won’t suffer as much.”

These are paraphrases of my early childhood, but they never sat well with me. Most would agree that suffering is part of the human condition, but one must not turn a blind eye or refuse to accept the part it plays for us. If we choose not to enter into suffering, that’s not really a defendable position for ignorance being bliss. That seems more to me to be an unfortunate choice not to engage with humanity. 

Healthcare… that’s an entirely different story. I’m not sure I can tell another person their methods for self care are flawed, at least not unsolicited. But I am the kind of person who would rather have all the details and make plans from there. 

However, I do think there are times when a bit of conscious ignorance is quite helpful. For instance, the current presidential administration. If I were to continue in my addiction to NPR (as unbiased as it is… or so we like to tell ourselves) I could not be present and, for example, enjoy my four year old’s birthday, because I’m might end up being too worried about the possibility that he won’t even have a place to live when he’s my age. 

Sometimes then, I will choose ignorance, I will choose when and where to consume news so that I can be here, in this moment, enjoying the peace of a lunch break and the view of the snow covered mountains not ten miles from my home. 

I don’t know what’s to come of this current administration, and if I’m honest, I’m pretty skeptical about the good that will come of it. I am not however going to be paralyzed by my fear of possibilities. I must make a conscious, deliberate, intentional decision to live in this moment with my two amazing boys and fantastically loving and compassionate wife. 

So, am I ignorant? When it brings me into this moment to love more fully and engage more authentically, absolutely. 

Searching

So, here’s the thing. I’ve been submerged in this notion of deconstructing my faith, without really knowing what to call it. The terminology has come about only recently thanks to folks like Rob Bell and The Liturgists podcast, among others. Having been wrapped up in this largely cerebral process of pulling my faith apart, logical piece by logical piece, I never lost my sense of community and the overwhelming need both for myself and for my family and honestly, for humanity as a whole to be connected, apart of each other’s lives. 

Having said that, I now find myself in a space where I am ready to begin rebuilding some sort of faith (I don’t know what else to call it at this point). I find great value and energy spending time with people in real, authentic, life giving and transforming sorts of ways. 

As I’ve mentioned before I grew up in a largely conservative Christian space, and though there are certain theological and social issues that separate us, there is a sense of community, of being apart of something that is so very needed in our individualized society. But we can’t see ourselves in those churches again because if my wife is a second class member, as well as my GLBTQ friends, we can’t hang, if you catch my drift. 

So, we gravitated to progressive Christianity. Which, theologically and socially speaking, most everything it stands for, I can get behind. There are some things though that may come as news and possibly offensive to my progressive friends. The democratic political process is not going to save the world. I’m as uneasy as any other liberal Christian about a Donald Trump presidency, but I don’t think Jesus gave a shit about Cesar or the unjust laws that essentially imprisioned the majority of the population. 

I think there is a middle ground that no one is talking about. A place between the liberal change-the-laws-of-the-land mentality and the everyone-is-wrong -except-us version of conservative Christianity. And I know some argue that Christianity as a whole is dangerous, but personally, I’m not sure. What could be wrong with actually taking care of each other, like, paying each other’s bills, feeding our friends, actually living life together? When I read stories in the sacred writings of Christianity, that’s what I see and that’s what I want. Though of course, one doesn’t need a church to do good in the world, I realize that. 

But, I still long for that group of like minded people. We are looking, but I have yet to find a group, church or community here that is interested both in the compassionate life, lived in community with friends and family as well as taking care of those around us. What really makes a difference for people who are living in, say, poverty? Saying I’m going to work to change laws to help you out, or actually paying for a medical bill or trip to the grocery store? 

I’m kind of rambling now, which I guess is progress. Needless to say, I may need to visit this one again. There’s a lot here.