Archive for March, 2009

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Compartmentalization

March 30, 2009

Putting things into categories often helps us get what we want. I generally consider this tendency to be more of an adult habit than a childhood habit. After all, it just makes sense to me that we would have to have superior mental capacities in order to compartmentalize skillfully.

On the contrary, in the past couple of days, I have been reminded of two great stories that contradict my previous belief, and I incorporate them here in order to demonstrate how early and how humorously we begin to categorize and compartmentalize our actions.

Ben

By the time Ben was three-ish, he had discovered the adrenaline rush of testing boundaries and was becoming more adept at it by the hour. While visiting Papa’s house one evening for Christmas, I believe, Ben decided to do some exploring. Unfortunately, Papa’s pristinely-perfect piano found itself in the path of his ventures. Holding a juice cup in one hand, Ben reached toward the clean ivory keys with his other greasy hand. Mom saw and gave him a clear, unequivocal instruction: “Ben, No! Do not touch the piano.” Ben clearly understood because he looked back at her, hesitated only slightly, and yes, played a fistful of discordant notes.

Mom grew more insistent, saying, “Ben, I told you not to touch the piano!” and started to move toward him to follow up on her instructions, when Ben rushed to explain how he could not possibly be disobeying at that moment. His rationale: “I’m not touching the it, Mommy. My hand is touching it.”

True, his hand may have committed the crime, but I am pretty sure that it was his behind that took the punishment.

John

Yummy yummy broccoli!

Yummy yummy broccoli!

To this day,  John is not a super huge fan of vegetables, although he does make a valiant effort. A younger John tried to avoid eating veggies at all costs, and this sometimes meant that he did not finish his dinner completely. In his house, the rule was the same as in most others – No Dessert for Children Who Do Not Finish Their Dinner.

One evening, John just could not bring himself to finish off the rest of his vegetables and declared himself to be full. His parents were fine with that – they simply removed the plate and informed him that he would not get any dessert that evening.

This was a problem. While John had difficulty stomaching veggies, his capacity for dessert was quite high. He exclaimed, “No, no – I still want dessert.” Robin expressed shock and awe that he could possibly have room for dessert if he was full just three seconds ago.

John was happy to explain: “You see, my vegetable compartment is very full, but my dessert compartment is completely empty!”

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Bad Sunday School

March 18, 2009

Sunday school is supposed to be a beautiful place, brimming with Bible stories and Christian lessons and, when the teacher has had a bad week, Veggie Tales. But that is not always the case. Ben and I both had some bad luck with Sunday schools at times.

There was the one Sunday that Ben’s teacher overheard some of the children in the class discussing their Christmas wishes for the fast-approaching holiday season. Whether she had been deprived of her own Christmas wishes in the past or she just had a grinch-sized portion of Christmas spirit in her is not certain. Either way, her she took the initiative to inform Ben and his classmates in no uncertain terms that there is no such thing as a Santa Claus. Ben objected, saying that his parents had told him about Santa, so he must exist. She then went further to explain that his parents must have lied to him, because Santa is definitely not real.

If she lacked Christmas spirit to begin with, I can assure you she didn’t have a whole lot of any kind of spirit left after all the parents of these kids found out about that day’s lesson.

On another occasion, several of us kids were being watched in the nursery by a girl we all knew, Nellie. I think Nellie must have been having a bad day, because she was not able to put up with our usual uproar and antics that day. Instead, she instructed all of us to sit down in a row on the floor of the nursery. Then she told us that we were not allowed to make any noise or even smile, and that if we did so much as chuckle, we would be sentenced to stand in the corner. We all tried to sit quietly, but we were super little – it just was not going to happen. I caught Nellie’s eye and laughed – that sealed my doom. She had me get up and go stand in the corner of the nursery, where I proceeded to cry miserably. I didn’t do well when I was punished for any offense, much less one that I did not understand.

Fortunately, I was still there in the corner when Mom arrived. Proof! I don’t recall Nellie ever watching us during church again, and thank goodness. If she had, I might have done something that actually merited punishment.

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Crush (Volume 1)

March 12, 2009

What fools we were, according to Ben. Everyone can remember having a crush as a youngster, and while not everyone enjoys reliving those days, I have decided to dredge up some good crush stories from our family and to smear them on the Internet for all to see and know. Fortunately, my family is good-natured enough not to mind… at least, most of my family. Some members who will go unnamed refused to give their permission for me to blog up their childhood crushes, and to them I say, Hmph.

For those of you who are more willing to divulge some great crush stories, please notice that this post is entitled “Volume 1” in the hope that you will be willing to share your own crush stories for a “Volume 2”. After reading, you should definitely click on the Share My Own Memories tab on the right and send me a tale of long lost (or found) puppy love. The stories that appear below can be your inspiration.

John

At the age of fifteen, John considered just a few things to be irresistible. One of them was basketball; one was Star Trek; and one was smart girls. While working at a pharmacy part time, he got to know a pretty cool chick who had just graduated from college. Yes, your math is correct – he was about six years younger than she, which is a lot when you are fifteen. This chick’s name was Robin, which I find interesting only because it is also the name of my amazing mother-in-law. No matter how good the name, if you can avoid ending up with someone who shares a name with one of your parents, that is a huge plus. Anyway, neither Robin’s age nor her name deterred John, because Robin had been an English major in college. That was all he needed to know. They spent time at the pharmacy filling prescriptions and discussing literature. I do not know if Robin ever knew of John’s fancy for her, but I will be always grateful to her for instilling in John a particular affinity for English majors.

Sarah

Lots of names come to mind when I think of my childhood crushes. There was Gabe, the cutest guy in my first grade class. His mom was also our librarian, so that was another selling point. Then there was Steve Green, whom I once beat in a foot race at church. Flirting was his specialty, and I found it came pretty naturally for me too. There was also Josh Harris, the renowned Christian relationship speaker and writer. I got so into him while reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye that I wrote in my journal about how I needed to stop looking at his photo on the back cover of his book. Ah, but none of these came close to my passion for Steve Baldwin. He was in high school when I was around the age of six, and I thought he was all that and a bag of chips. Every Sunday at church, he vowed to me that he would wait for me to grow up… I did not realize how creepy that sounded until much later… But when Steve up and married a gorgeous girl named Annette, I remember feeling a little betrayed. After all, he said he would wait.

Ben

Ben had lots of crushes to choose from as well. Tory is the one who stands out for me. They both went through a brief period of liking each other when they were about seven-ish. All of the adults thought this attraction was adorable, even long after Tory and Ben described themselves as “over” each other. It was during this post-crush phase that Ben starred in a church play as the character Small Fry, a Bible nerd with a bowtie and thick glasses. Tory’s grandmother insisted on taking photos of the not-so-happy couple after the play, plunging them into deep embarrassment.

The one girl who probably had the greatest influence on Ben’s crush life was Lauren Heinz. It was Lauren who caused Ben to experience a very rare introspective moment in his busy childhood. Sitting in Joyce Knight’s Sunday school class (the epitome of Ben’s social networking in fourth-fifth grade), and not paying attention to the lesson, Ben was struck with an epiphany. He clearly remembers thinking, “I am nine years old now. It is probably time for me to start liking girls.” Up to this point, his interactions with girls had consisted of teasing them, hitting them with Bibles, calling them fat, and so forth. “Time to make a change,” Ben thought. “So… who in this room is cute?” Shoot. The cutest girl in the room was Lauren, and she hated Ben’s guts for all the mean things he did to her on a regular basis.

That day, he approached Lauren and apologized (sincerely?) for all the things he had done, then asked if they could be friends. Lauren hesitantly shook his hand and agreed, wondering what this kid was up to now. And so began a three-year long crush, during which he secretly asked her out not just once, but three times, and was secretly turned down each time. Guess it is not such a big secret now. Ben, I have to say – you’ve come a long way.

Shannon

Out of all of us, I think it is safe to say that Shannon has the most unusual and fascinating crush stories. Of course, the common, sentimental fare is there, such as the time in second grade when she carved Alex Minick’s initials into her bedroom window. Now, over twenty years later, Alex’s mom is Shannon’s supervisor. Itty, bitty, tiny world, huh?

No, I am not talking about those cute little stories – I am talking about some of the most interesting men I have ever met or heard of seem to gravitate to Shannon like cat hair to my new furniture. Some of those narratives have been officially stricken from the list of bloggable topics, but there is one remaining that I think should never be removed from the annals of family memory. That is the story of Haider.

Haider wanted to marry Shannon. He had never met anyone as beautiful as she was; the problem was, he had also never met Shannon. Haider chose her for his life partner while shopping in a Half-Price Bookstore where Shannon and Mom also happened to be spending Shannon’s twenty-fourth birthday. He stared at her intently while she browsed the aisles but couldn’t work up the courage to speak to her until she was in the parking lot, about to leave. He ran out to the parking lot and asked them to wait before getting into the car. With Shannon and Mom there by the car, he poured out his heart, saying that Shannon was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and that he would like her to go out with him. Needless to say, Shannon was flattered but cautious. Mom was even more cautious and decided to take the offensive by asking him if he was a believer. He stuttered something like, “Uh, yes – yes, I believe.” Shannon agreed to take his number and meet him at Starbucks the next morning.

The Starbucks date gave a little more insight into who Haider was. He was Morrocan, I believe – Shannon might need to correct me. He had two houses (although I think one was in Daytona… if you’re going to spend money on two houses, put the second one someplace cooler than that). He knew seven languages. He was Buddhist. He was an entrepeneur. She never learned what he actually did for a living, and while the houses and languages were impressive, the difference in religion was the real kicker. Though they did not meet again after that semi-date, Haider continued to call Shannon for awhile after that when he was in town. I hope he has moved on by now – I am pretty sure Shannon has.

I love this family.

I love this family.