Johann, I’ll Be “Bach”…. June 30, 2012

(1,562)

Babies aren’t cute.

I felt it was my responsibility to step in at this point and dispel what seems to be a universal misconception. When you factor in their bald, often-misshapen heads, with eyes that are threatening to cross and drool that spouts from their mouths like a Texas oil-well gusher, you really cannot insist that these creatures possess the stamp of approval from Cute, International. And that is without mentioning the weapons of mass destruction they often leave in their diapers for unsuspecting parental victims.

And of course, they cry a lot. Inconsolably.

That being said, I do have to admit that the four little sprouts I had the privilege of fathering were reasonably attractive. But recently I discovered that we are going to be birthing a new grandson. Before I discuss this new little boy–who has already been named Johann–I would like to give you a brief history of my experience in having children.

My first son was conceived on our senior prom night–obviously, not by design. He was born nine months later and we were married five months prior. The doctors were concerned that my wife was going to be startled by this first birth, so they put her under, losing a great ally for pushing out the newborn package. Forceps were required, rendering my first-born with the appearance of a child that possibly should have been placed in the “rejected” pile.

My second son was born a year-and-a-half later, since my wife and I had no concept of birth control–and we were white and possessed no rhythm. She was not sure she was in labor, so she walked down the street to see my mother, who was working in a loan company that she owned and operated. When my wife didn’t come back immediately, I became concerned, so I trotted my way down to the loan company, only to arrive as my child was being born in the back of this institution–on a couch normally reserved for nervous patrons seeking financial assistance for home improvement. It was the talk of our little town, as literally hundreds of people lined up outside that loan company to see the baby who was born “abnormally”–outside the hospital.

My third son was unique in the sense that my wife was nervous about informing me that we were going to have a third one, so she waited until she was six months pregnant to tell me. So my enthusiasm only had three months to hatch, and then on top of that, she called me and told me that she was in labor, so I drove the thirty miles to the hospital and arrived just after the baby was born. Her entire labor was forty-three minutes.

At this point, we decided not to have any additional children, which didn’t make any difference in the scheme of things. At the worst possible time, while we were traveling around the country with our children, one of whom had been severely impaired by a hit-and-run car accident, my wife once again discovered she was pregnant–this time informing me. But as it turned out, she was not correct on the exact time of her conceiving, so the baby arrived two months early by her count, but absolutely correct by the other mother involved (nature). The blessing was that I actually got to be there for the birthing of this one.

My two granddaughters, Isabella and Lily, were born without my presence. My grandson, Wyeth, was born in China, where I also wasn’t, and my other grandson, Justice, was born before my son was married to the woman who is his mother.

So as I head off this week to Nashville, Tennessee, to continue my tour, I am also directing myself towards the possibility of being in the town where my latest grandson, Johann, is due to be born soon. Understanding my history, I am sure some unusual occurrence will prevent me from having full access to the event. But I am still optimistic over this latest arrival. I know some grandparents would object to a child being called Johann–because we Americans are so fixated on the top-twenty names for the little ones. But I think we need some distinctions–and having a unique name is a great conversation starter. And conversation is the ultimate starter to all things good.

And Johann certainly has great tradition, with the sprouting of beautiful music from Johann Sebastian Bach.

So even though I don’t think babies are cute, I do think they’re really important. They are God’s way of reminding us that we are not doomed to our own mediocrity. New possibilities are offered all the time, and as long as we can survive the onslaught of drool and poopie, we might just be able to raise up the next human being who will teach us how to love one another.

So before I arrive in Nashville, Tennessee, to have some sort of experience with this new grandchild, I would like to state the three hopes I have for his future:

1. Johann, don’t imitate the world around you. Society often tends to be erred, and then adds the curse of stubbornness and pride to keep change from happening earlier. Ignore the masses; listen to your heart.

2. Be unashamedly creative. Being creative is not gay. Being creative is not feminine. Being creative is finding God in every situation.

3. And finally, my dear grandson, Johann–would you go ahead and be bold and brave, and do better than us? To achieve this, you will have to be able to possess the better parts of our efforts and forgive us our trespasses. Don’t let your genetics rule your dreams, nor follow the traditions of family and nation simply because they seem to be so prevalent.

So there you go. I am off to pursue a birth. There is no star to follow, which is fine, since I am not a Wise Man; there is no history of inspiring stories to propel me on my merry way. I am happily looking for a new experience with a new human being. And I hope in the process that I may be able to find the very first baby in the history of mankind that truly iscute.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

M.T.M.B…. June 26, 2012

(1,558)

She situated herself at the edge of the pool in a white deck chair, peering closely at her three young ducklings, splashing away in the water. Seeing us arrive, she apparently judged by our age that we were older and therefor cranky, and warned her children not to splash us when we entered the swimming hole.

I laughed. I told her that if we didn’t want to get wet, we probably should have stayed in our room instead of coming to the pool. She looked at me, a bit surprised, asked me if I was sure, and then returned to her vigil of supervision. Since the children were given permission to scream, they actually ended up screaming less. (I think that’s part of being a kid–if your parents want you to do anything, that’s a good enough reason to do it less or not at all.)

While I swam around, I observed her. I like to observe people–not because I’m nosy but because I’m trying to learn how to make better choices myself and the only way I’ve found to accomplish that is to learn from watching the decisions of others.

She yelled a lot. It’s not easy having three kids. I know–I’ve had them. You’re always concerned that they’re going to hurt themselves or do something stupid or annoy cantankerous folks around you, so you always come off a little over-protective and possibly overly critical.

She was having a bad day. No one should ever be judged–but certainly not when they’re having a bad day. Did I happen to mention that she was also pregnant? So there was going to be another young troubador joining the trio to form a quartet, with her being the underpaid and underappreciated maestro of the traveling troupe. What usually happens at this point is that people who think that they care or want to contribute something of quality resort to offering an opinion, or even worse, advice. It even can begin with the humble approach of, “In my experience … ”

If I could give one pearl of great wisdom to everyone in the world, it would be to avoid opinions and advice nearly at all cost. They are both useless. No one really wants to hear your opinion unless it’s favorable and your advice would require that they submit to your ideas, which human beings rarely do. We like to follow the thoughts that come from our own heads. Good, bad or ugly–it’s true.  So with that in mind I decided to contribute something of worth to this dear woman, who was obviously struggling under a burden beyond my present comprehension.

It’s all about good cheer. Good cheercomes in two forms. You can give it or you can be it. Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for another person is to just cheer ’em on. Take a moment, find something they’re doing well, and just give them a great big hoorah. I told her I thought she was doing a good job with her children and that she was smart to wear them out in the pool so they would get sleepy and have a good night of rest. She was a little shocked, but very appreciative that somebody was encouraging her instead of suggesting different parental approaches.

swimming pool

swimming pool (Photo credit: freefotouk)

I also used the other part of good cheer, staying in a great mood myself the whole time I was in the pool around her children. Humor may be the only answer to every problem–at least to get us started in the direction of resolution. (This is why we, as a race, are heading towards doom–because when confronted with conflict, we choose to become more serious-minded, and therefore, incompetent.)Yes, the two greatest things you can do for other people is cheer for them or bring good cheer in your own attitude.

I have experienced this my whole life. I was once stuck on I-40 in a complete stoppage of traffic because of a major accident. People got out of their cars and started to grump, complain and become fussy with one another. I realized it was going to be a dangerous situation unless some good cheer came in. So I let my sons get out of the car with their Nerf football and start throwing passes back and forth among the cars. Now, some people did complain, but most folks started tossing the ball along with them. In no time at all, the atmosphere changed from pre-Armageddon to “picnic.” All it took was good cheer.

The night that my son, Joshua, was in the hit-and-run accident, I found myself in the emergency room, awaiting the doctors and nurses to report to me, completely absorbed in my own tragedy. Sitting nearby was a mother and her nine-year-old son, who were also waiting for a report on an operation about her husband and his dad. They were tense, nervous and the little fellow was in tears. I didn’t feel like being generous. I was sitting in the ashes of my own devastation, but so was the little boy next to me. So I started up a game of, “I see something blue…” with him. (Honestly, it’s very hard to do in a hospital, considering that most things are beige and off-white.) He started to giggle, and for a necessary juncture, I forgot that my son was lying broken in an examination room. We passed the time together. About an hour later, the surgeon appeared and the little boy’s father had survived the operation. Good cheer won the night.

What we want to avoid are opinions and advice. Opinions are limited to our upbringing and advice has the frailty of being limited by our own personal experience. But good cheer comes from God, and sometimes only a gift from God will satisfy the human need.

My dear woman at the pool left in better sorts, I think. And I departed knowing that the best thing we can do is M.T.M.B.–which, by the way, stands for: Make The Moment Better.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

%d bloggers like this: