Ask Jonathots … August 13th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I am a mother of three children, two boys aged 5 and 7, and a daughter aged 13. I arranged to work half days this summer, and we planned to have our daughter babysit the boys in the mornings. After two weeks, it’s a disaster. My daughter spends too much time texting her friends, and the boys are running wild. Is thirteen too young to babysit? And should I just give up and put them all in day care?

I’m just curious–if you think your dog barks too much, and if you do, if you think the way to correct the situation is to place him in a kennel?

I’m not trying to be snarky with you. Lest you think I’m saying children are animals, I certainly am not. But their care is not dissimilar.

You are being critical of a thirteen-year-old girl who is texting. It is parallel to being angry at a dog which is barking. That’s what 13-year-old girls do. They don’t suddenly become nannies and take care of their brothers efficiently.

I don’t think anyone can tell you that 13 is too young to babysit, but I do think I can tell you that your 13-year-old is too young. I suppose you can choose to be upset about that, or you can realize that this is your situation.

Let’s go with some suggestions:

1. Daycare would be the last possible consideration because it is expensive, and also a little less personal than you might want for your children in the summer months.

2. Is there a compromise? Could your 13-year-old watch the children for a couple of hours a day, and then have a neighbor come in and check in on the situation and rejuvenate the energy? Wouldn’t you be happier to give one of your neighbors a little cash to assist, which would help their finance, instead of using a daycare?

3. There also may be a woman or man who is a house-parent, who might like to combine families and pick up a little extra cash, and take all the pressure off your 13-year-old.

But let’s look at what we do want to avoid:

A. Making your daughter feel guilty because she’s not a good “mommy.”

B. Spending too much money taking care of your kids and losing your livelihood.

C. Having your children in jeopardy because they are not well-cared-for.

You also have the opportunity of explaining your situation to your boss, and possibly doing some work from home, or at least being permitted to take a break from work to check on your children.

Never throw anger or money at your problems–your teenage daughter does not need you to be disappointed in her, and your bank account does not appreciate being depleted in order for you to work a job.

Use your three magic words: Look around you.

It is a miraculous way to live.

Often the solution is within eyesight, and we ignore it because we think everything needs to be more complicated.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 49 (July 13th, 1969) My First Bikini…January 10, 2015

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(Transcript)

Being painfully bored, I was greatly relieved when Marsha called and said that some of the kids from school were getting together to hang out, drive around Westerville and see if we could have some fun without getting in trouble.

She wanted to use my 1962 Chevy Impala because it was big enough to seat seven people.

I agreed.

We had a great time, but we did start running out of things to do, so we headed off to an area of our community where all the rich people lived. The locals usually did this because we wanted to drive by their houses and talk about what brats they were.

Suddenly Marsha suggested that Carol, who was with us and was about to get her driver’s license, take the wheel and try her luck. As unbelievable as it may sound now, in a moment of sanity, we all thought it was a great idea on that day.

Carol got in the car and the first thing she did was put it in reverse and back my automobile into a deep ditch.

We spent the next twenty minutes trying to get out of the predicament. Then Marsha noticed we were across the street from one of our friends from school, so she walked down the long drive to try to get some assistance. While she was gone, miraculously, we were able to wiggle the car out of the ditch, so by the time she returned with her friend the problem was solved.

As I looked up, there was the girl from the house down the long driveway, standing there, wearing a bikini. It was my first bikini.

Normally Ohio people wear clothing–similar to the reason that bears have fur–for protection, warmth and of course, modesty. But there before me was a bikini, displaying its fruit like a bowl full of cherries.

I don’t know why it shocked me so much. Perhaps I had never been that close to breasts that didn’t belong to my mother. I tried not to stare, and of course, when you try not to do something, it becomes even more obvious that you’re doing it.

She was dressed in a bikini because she had a swimming pool, which normally would have caused us to make fun of her, but since she was wearing a bikini, I reconsidered.

She was the same girl who believed the Easter bunny lived at her house, and who sat next to me in biology class like a timid lump of nothing.

But today she was a bikini.

We didn’t stay long, but all the way back to town I was thinking about the sight. I thought about it all that night. I woke up the next morning thinking about my first bikini.

So later that afternoon, I called the bikini girl on the phone and I asked her out on a date. I realized that some of my friends would ridicule me because they had characterized her as a rich weirdo, but I didn’t care. I was driven by a higher force–certainly not as high as the heavens, but floating somewhere above the earth.

I learned that day that romance needs more than love. It requires lust.

And lust has a very brief lifespan without love.

 

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G-41: Pulseless… September 12, 2014

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coffin

Dead … as a doornail.

Please, no mention of nails.

Ironic: a carpenter terrified by nails. Leave it to the Romans to murder a tree and use it to kill me.

Dead … that last frantic, frightened gasp for air as the brain dims away like a flickering flame.

Extinguished.

Then … yes, then a victim of cruel-cified. Very cruel.

Waiting to see if suffocation, heart attack from extreme pain or bleeding to death occur first.

  • Constantly cramping
  • Constantly thirsty.
  • Constantly bleeding.
  • Constantly … trapped.

Some watched. Some mocked. Some busied themselves earning their daily shekel.

A few mourners.

I prayed for Mission A and ended up with Plan B–a sacrifice to stupidity to end stupidity once and for all.

For here is the reasoning:

To gain resurrection, something must die. To die, someone must risk, by faith, that there is more. To believe in more requires a zest for life that despises death.

Yes, John, pull me down.

Mother, take the thorns from my head.

Joseph, carry me to your tomb.

I shan’t stay long.

Set the alarm for 6:00 A. M. Sunday.

I will wake up.

The good news is …

So will you.

 

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Remembering Why (Clears Up How) … August 11, 2014

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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bird feedingRemembering why sleep resembles death and waking up to a daily resurrection tells me how I should grant myself the blessing of a fresh start with every sunrise

Recalling that a good idea awakens my faith shows me how to have faith for the next good idea

Conjuring memories of a generous friend motivates me how I should be generous to a friend

Looking at the children that blessed my life encourages me on how I should honor their mother

Encountering a refreshing burst of laughter tickles my fancy to pursue a path of good cheer

Blessed, enriched, and enlightened by the freedom given to me by my country challenges how I should respect the leaders that have been selected, in spite of their party affiliation

And revived by the love of my Creator and Father, I now know how my life should possess a pure heart, a hopeful spirit, the renewed mind and a flourishing strength

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Untotaled: Stepping 17–(November 25th, 1965) Too Late to Understand … June 7, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Angry. Sweet.

Gentle. Mean.

Vindictive. Giving.

These words seem to be opposites of one another but they were all part of the personality of my mother.

All through my childhood, I had endured a see-saw of emotion which was not only painful, but unpredictable.

November 25th was Thanksgiving Day. I was excited. I walked into the kitchen rubbing my hands together with enthusiasm and asked my mother “when the feast was going to be ready.”

She turned to me with a bit of fire and spit and said, “Why don’t you cook it? It’s hard work.”

It was cold, ferocious and beyond my understanding. I just went to my room, cussing her name.

For after all, this was a woman I had seen empty her cupboards of canned goods to help a neighbor in need and then, the next day, turn around and curse that same neighbor for dereliction and laziness. She would often come into my room and give me a hug, only to scream at me an hour later for watching cartoons–“being in her way” during vacuuming.

In my youth I heard her speak of brotherhood while referring to some individuals as “worthless niggers.”

If I’d had a lick of sense–which I didn’t–I would have realized that a human being who is angry, sweet, gentle, mean, vindictive and giving–well, when you combine them, what you end up with is confused.

In my later years, I understood.

She was seventeen years old when she married a man who was eighteen years her senior. she never got to travel, she didn’t get to go to college, was unable to flirt with either disaster or blessing and birthed five children, which from time to time seemed more of an inconvenience than a heritage.

She lived in confined quarters with limited funds, with a very stoic husband who often went on trips to Canada without providing a definite return date.

I wish I could sit down with her and tell her that I’m sorry I did not understand her plight. In today’s world, she probably would be diagnosed with some sort of neurotic condition which would be tempered by medication. Such remedies were unheard of in her day and age.

The greatest reprieve to my soul is that on the day she passed from this world, I was the last one to see her in the nursing home. We had a wonderful trip to the mall and on the way back, together sang her favorite hymn, The Old Rugged Cross.

She taught me a lot without realizing that she was instructing.

It was neither the fits of anger nor her acts of generosity that remain with me, but rather, a desire to be universally merciful to people when I don’t know their whole story.

So nowadays I would only ask three questions of anyone I encounter:

  1.  Can you admit you’re not happy?
  2. Are you willing to be happy?
  3. Will you stay with it until happiness arrives?

That’s all my mother needed–someone to give a damn.

It’s hard for me to remember her as a mom or a mother, and I certainly don’t want to look on her as a monster.

She was a woman named Mary who was given limited possibilities … and did the best she could.

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After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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G-21: Blame or Bloom… April 25, 2014

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holding hands… and then a remarkable occurrence …

Man and woman, expelled from the Garden by choosing the knowledge of evil and good over life, were thrust back out into the jungle for survival.

They were ill-suited.

Being monkey-angels, they had limited capacity for the grit of everyday sweat and pain involved in scrounging on their own. This introduced many scenarios–most of them dire.

But the remarkable part of the story is that rather than becoming extinct in an environment contrary to their natures–instead of sitting around blaming one another for misdeeds and weak character–they took the one enduring ingredient of the Garden which was formerly their home and carried it into the next part of their experience.

Love.

Man and woman loved each other.

Escaping the foolishness of finger-pointing and accusing arguments, they returned to the essence of why they came together in the first place. Realizing they knew too much and that this burst of information only made them feel despondent and worthless, they turned to one another to discover purpose.

  • They didn’t blame.
  • Instead, they sought to bloom.

Like “grandparents” of the entire human race, they acted out a living lesson of what makes our species valuable:

1. Who are we?

Not “who do we want to be?” Nor “who do we think we should be?” But instead, “who have we become?” minus shame over our nakedness.

2. What do we know?

Lacking pomposity and false bravado–just a simple inventory of the knowledge we possess that enlightens us instead of diminishing our capacity.

3. Where do we start?

First with each other. We aren’t going to make it out here in the jungle, to someday be worthy of the Garden, if we are constantly alienating ourselves from one another.

Man loved woman. He called her “the mother of all living.”

Woman loved man.

They trusted each other to be strong and were fully cognizant of each other’s weaknesses. They undergirded one another’s efforts.

And even though their bizarre selection of choosing to include evil in their thinking set the human race on a precarious journey into unnecessary failure, their love sustained us, pointing in the direction of life.

I know it is popular to glorify the Creator for His genius and generosity. Certainly He is worthy of all praise.

But let us not forget that our salvation story did require human beings to survive and prosper until such a time that the restoration of all things could be offered back to us … from another tree on a hill far away.

 

 

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UNTOTALED: Stepping 7–Tackling Laziness (September 4th, 1965) … March 22, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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(Transcript)

Starting the seventh grade scared the crap out of me.

Actually, that particular cliché doesn’t fit very well because when you’re entering junior high school in a new building, the idea of any sound or bodily fluid coming out of your being is completely terrifying.

You want to simultaneously be invisible and also appreciated, which of course, is not only socially impossible, but scientifically implausible.

I had spent the week before school began begging my mother to allow me to go out for the football team. She was afraid I would get injured. This was a maternal prophetic sensation, long before the recent onslaught of concussions and head injuries. What was comical, though, about this assertion on her part was that I was nearly six feet tall and weighed three hundred pounds. The coach joked with her, when trying to solicit her support, that it would be more likely that I would hurt other children.

I whined, cajoled, pleaded, promised, praised, complimented and cleaned my room up enough to get her to agree to allow me to try out for the team.

So September 4th, 1965, was not just the first day of horror in the new junior high school. It was also my first day to go out after school and practice with the football team.

The trials continued when they were unable to find a pair of football pants to fit me.  (This was the era when men’s sizes stopped at extra-large, and anyone who needed anything bigger must order it from the sheep herders of Tibet.) So I wore a pair of tennis shoes and blue Dickey work pants to work out with the other guys, who were in suitable apparel. (They did find a helmet that fit my head, since the term fat-head is merely an urban legend.)

It became obvious to me immediately, on that small practice field, what I liked and what I didn’t.

  • I loved the game.
  • I loved tackling.
  • I loved thinking about what was going to happen next.

On the other hand, I hated exercise in all of its contorted, convoluted and fastidiously constructed forms. After all, every exercise program is really geared to skinny people–even the ones which insist they are trying to appeal to the obese. Their speculations always exceed our limitations.

I hated sprints, calisthenics, too much running of any type, and all the drills which they insisted were essential for becoming a great football player.

I endured the sport for three years, but finally my laziness regarding exercise overtook my love of the gridiron.

Maybe if I’d had the right kick in the pants from an authority figure, or perhaps mercy at the right moments and toughness at others, I might have continued playing the game. I don’t know.

But because I didn’t tackle laziness on the football field, it took me too many years to overcome that gooey, drippy vice that drags one down, draining off potential.

So the next time you run across a kid who has ability, but not much drive, please don’t assume that you should leave him alone.

I was left alone. And fascinatingly enough–it was just lonely.

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