Random Observations on Life

Random Observations on Life

Over time, owners do resemble their dogs!

This is a blog about a dog. Well not really. This is the more about the ramblings of the dog's dutiful owner, Blue's Dad. Although Blue might be the backdrop of this whole experiment, there's no telling where this trail will lead me. I apologize ahead of time for the randomness of my observations. I've always tended to color outside the lines.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fathers and Daughters

I'm a quite simple man.

My desires in life have been pretty unassuming.

As early as my mid teens, one of my biggest goals in life was to be a good father and husband. This is one of those goals that can't immediately be determined if it has been accomplished, time has to prove it out.

There were many times when my daughters were growing up that I was afraid I was going to have to turn in my 'man-card'. When my friends would call me to come watch a game with them, I would have to decline because I was in the floor playing Barbies or going to see the Spice Girls Movie (yes they did make a movie, and yes I was one of a handful of grown men who saw it).

Now my girls are all young ladies and their dolls have been traded in for cars and college and jobs and even daughters of their own.

I heard the Paul Simon song listed in my playlist below and for the first time, I listened to the words. As you listen, pay attention to the chorus. When it says "There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you", that is the only sentiment I can offer.

Only time and folklore will determine what kind of Father I have been, but in the end, if I'm judged a failure in that department, I can guarantee it wasn't for lack of effort and desire.

I've always said that in my eulogy, if they say, "this man was a hard worker and loved his God and his family", then I have been a success.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wrongfully Judging Icebergs (part 2)

Looking back over the several posts of mine, I realize by now, I have probably offended almost everyone at least once. Whether it is because you drive a big pick up, or let your kids draw on restaurant tables, all of you have probably felt my rants were directed at you at one time or another. I can guarantee you they were never directed at any one person, but I understand how they could've been taken that way.

My arrogance never ceases to amaze me. I find myself thinking I have the ability to accurately judge others when I know very little about them (See previous post about icebergs).

This past Saturday, while in the Tulsa airport, I noticed a young father with a two year old. The two year old was on a leash which I have never liked. I feel like they are demeaning to a child to lead them around like a terrier. I watched with disgust and wondered about things I could say to him if we crossed paths. "Cute boy, what breed is he?", "Aaaah, what tricks can he do?" etc.

As I got close to the gate to enter the plane, I could see there was more to this man's story than I had known. Not only was he traveling alone with a two year old, he also had a baby in a carrier, a carseat for the boy, and a carry on bag to keep them entertained. He looked like a pack mule boarding the plane with all this in tow. Luckily for him, the other passengers were much more caring for a fellow human being than I was. The people around him stepped up and offered to help, grabbing whatever they could to ease his burden. I sat there ashamed of the way I had looked at him only minutes before. As we got off the plane, I carried some of his things in an effort to repent partially for my earlier idiocy.

If I were in his shoes, of course it would have made sense to tether the 2 year old. In case he ran off, there was no way I could've run after him. The father was wise. I was not.

Will I ever learn to just deal with the things I can control and that are part of my life?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

When I was very young, Saturday mornings were always the best! Being the youngest, I was usually the first one awake. After waking up on those chilly winter mornings in the Ozarks, I would stand in front of the stove in the living room in order to raise my core body temperature to a human level. It would be many years later before I had heat in my bedroom, so the stove at the edge of the front room was a thermal treat. I would watch Looney Toons in front of the fire until the rest of the family woke.

I'm sure my mom and dad cooked many things for Saturday breakfast, but the mornings I remembered most were the times they cooked Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy. The biscuits were big and fluffy, browned with a touch of lard on the top. The gravy was hot, sticky, and most of all, chocolatey. There was a method to how I ate the treat. I carefully pulled the biscuits apart, and after putting butter on each half, I poured the gravy over my biscuits and let it drip onto my eggs and sausage. In the days before worries of fat and cholesterol, it was celestial.

More than the flavor of the food, I savored the safety of being with my mom and dad. They didn't always get along during those years, but at breakfast time all seemed ok in my world.

It wasn't until I moved out of state when I was 19, that I realized that the rest of the world had been kept ignorant to the joys of chocolate gravy. Sure they had their cracked wheat, bagels, scones and lattes, but they were naive to the joys of real breakfast foods. I'm sure mom had learned to cook the treat from her mom, and she in turn from hers. Who knows how far back the tradition went. Over the years, the only chance I had to revel in the decadence of chocolate gravy was when I returned home to visit. My children soon anticipated a visit to Grandma's to eat chocolate gravy. Another generation had been converted.

My dad has passed on since those days of Saturday morning bliss. My mom is now battling brain cancer. I called her last night to get the chocolate gravy recipe. Sadly, she couldn't remember it.

That's ok Mom, the memories we associate with Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy will last us (and our kids) a lifetime. Take it easy now. It's your turn to rest, so pass the torch to other generations who will cherish the tradition of Grandma's Chocolate Gravy. We'll be glad to make it for you now.

Even though the recipe we use may be the same, I wonder if it will ever taste as sweet as when you stood at the stove stirring it while Dad was pulling the biscuits from the oven. With those memories instilled in us, I'm sure we can recreate those Saturday morning feelings in our hearts and the tradition will live on for more generations to come.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thoughts on Parenting

Hello all! Those who know me, know I am on my second round of parenting. Or as I say, Parenting part Deux.

Now that I have some perspective with which to look back, I am convinced I did some of my best parenting before I even had any kids, I had all the answers then. Now I realize I have fewer answers but more questions.

My first four children are all now grown young ladies and one is a great mother to my first grandchild. My second round consists of a spirited nine year old boy (bluesbro).

As I examine my experiences in child rearing, I realize I have formed opinions and have theories unproven. I have began to wonder if some of the parenting I see so prevalent around me actually leads to the greater good for which its intended. For example, there seems to be an unquenchable yearning for parent's to have their kids read earlier, run better, look smarter, and speak clearer than all the other kids. I have become less and less impressed when people tell me their child is in the gifted and talented program at school, or can recite scripture before they are out of diapers.

My first daughter walked at eight months old. I used to love the attention we got because she was toddling around when she should've been crawling. But now that she is grown with a little one of her own, she appears to walk just about like everyone else. I am not sure the fact that she walked early had any benefit later in her life.

As an analytical person, I have wondered if there any studies that show a child who reads earlier, walks sooner, counts higher, is any better off at adulthood than children who do these things in the natural course of learning with their peers. In other words, is a boy that can recite the Gettysburg Address at 8 any better off in life at 28?

Please, don't get me wrong. I do believe we owe it to our children to provide an atmosphere and experiences to be the best they can be. Otherwise, we've sold them short in life.

I think we all realize that bragging about our children is an acceptable part of parenting and is really more about us (the parents) than it is the child. To say, "My Suzy is so smart, they put her ahead a grade!" is really to say, "I am such a good parent" or "I have given her such great genes".

If we listed all the people in life that we admire (whether it be professionally, philosophically, or we think they are just a great person), would it be a list of people who read Shakespeare at 5 and were all A's, or were they more likely good students who got B's and a few C's, yet their childhood was a little more well rounded and they felt safe and loved growing up?

Let me ask you: When you think of your childhood, what memories give you warm feelings. Was it the fact that you were in the top of your fourth grade class on the standardized test? I doubt it.

To what end do we push our children? What life outcome are we hoping for? Will the things we do get them there? Adulthood will come soon enough, but now is their only chance to be a kid.