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    July 2017
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Perspective

When I was about three years old, we lived in a great, big house with a huge backyard that had about a 100-foot long slope on it, perfect for sledding, although it was steep. A ski lift would have been helpful in getting up that hill. Or that’s what I thought. When I visited there as an adult, I discovered a small, cottage-type house, with a small backyard that had a small, maybe eight-foot-long slope and a bit of a yard beyond. Really, it was just a berm. I was shocked. If you had asked me before I visited there to describe the place, I would have told you about the great big house with the huge yard and steep hill.

This experience was an object lesson for me. I try to remember it when dealing with little ones, because I remember being scared one winter day when my Dad offered to throw me down the hill in the snow—for fun. Fun! HA! He had already pitched my big sister Kathy and my cousins Marlene and Delma down the hill. I couldn’t understand how they enjoyed the experience of rolling down that huge, extremely steep hill! They were so brave!

I also remember an incident in the ballroom-sized room on the second floor of our house when my cousins Wilma and Peggy were spending the night. Peggy and I begged and begged Wilma to read us a story before we went to sleep. After all, she was a grown-up (probably nine or ten years old.) She finally gave in, I realize now, to shut us up, and began reading the story of The Three Bears at high speed.

Wilma stood there, across the room from our bed, with Peggy and me clustered around her to see the pictures, her hand twitching on the light switch as she read at triple-fast speed: “Someone’s-been-eating-my-porridge,”-growled-the-Papa-bear.-“Someone’s-been-eating-my-porridge,”-said-the-Mama-bear.-“Someone’s-been-eating-my-porridge-and-they-ate-it-all-up!”-cried-the-Baby-bear.

We asked her, politely I’m certain, to slow down, but only got a “Do you want me to finish this or not?” in response. Wilma continued: “Someone’s-been-sleeping-in-my-bed-and-she’s-still-there!”-exclaimed-Baby-bear.-Just-then,-Goldilocks-woke-up-and-saw-the-three-bears.-She-screamed,-“Help!” (Big gulp of air) And-she-jumped-up-and-ran-out-of-the-room.-Goldilocks-ran-down-the-stairs,-opened-the-door,-and-ran-away-into-the-forest.-And-she-never-returned-to-the-home-of-the-three-bears.-The-End. CLICK!

Instantly, there was pitch black darkness, punctuated with the cries of frightened three-year-old pests. I couldn’t walk the vast expanse of that room (which of course you realize, was actually a small, dormer room) in the dark! Knowing Wilma now, I would say she turned the light back on as we trekked to the bed. But, knowing her then, I wouldn’t bet that big house on it.

All this to say, we really should be able to extend grace and understanding to each other, since everyone’s perspective on life is so different. We can’t accurately judge the magnitude of anyone’s problems, including our own, because problems grow and shrink with our ability to deal with them from day to day. So I invite you, just take a deep breath, look up, and give all your problems to the God who loves you and sees everything from an eternal perspective.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers.

Raising Readers

In earlier days, around the room,

the children would draw near

as Mother read a poem to them.

Such memories, so dear!

The above poem describes a favorite scene at my house growing up. Sometimes my Mom would read poems from The Best Loved Poems of the American People. One of my favorite poems was “Sleepin’ at the Foot O’ the Bed” because I remember doing that myself if we had a lot of family over. Another poem I liked was a rant against “Dried Apple Pies.” It started out: “I loathe, abhor, detest, despise, abominate dried apple pies.” Sometimes Mom would mix things up and “write” a letter to Aunt Goldie, then let us fill in the blanks she had left. It was our version of Mad Libs, and I remember a lot of laughter.

Mom and Dad made certain there was a lot of reading material in our house. We had a set of books of Illustrated U.S. History, and another set called Step-Up Books with titles like The Adventures of Lewis and Clark and Meet Theodore Roosevelt. There were science books in the series, like Animals Do the Strangest Things and Fish Do the Strangest Things. I still remember being fascinated reading about bower birds and angler fish.

We also had a Bible story book with pictures and questions. Kathy, Wayne, and I would take turns each night reading one of the stories from it before bed. We read through it so many times, we memorized all the answers to the questions.

I didn’t realize at the time that all this was a deep-dyed plot by our parents to rear up life-long readers. But it worked.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers.

A Bargain at Any Price

When my niece, Karen, was four years old, and her sister, Ashley about two, they took a trip with their mom to visit their Aunt Kathy and family. Mama Susie was driving and Aunt Kathy was occupying the front passenger seat. The two girls were in the back seat, doing what many siblings do on long car trips—fighting and quarreling. Then the antics began escalating to smacking each other.

Finally, Mama had enough. She glanced (glared, maybe?) back at her daughters and delivered that Classic Mom Line, “Am I going to have to pull this car over? Because if I do, I’m going to paddle you both!”

Instant silence from the Peanut Gallery.

Then, a small, still four-year-old voice came from the back seat, saying, “Mama, I give you a quarter, you not give us a spanking.”

Of course during this mother/daughter exchange, Aunt Kathy was doing her best to keep from laughing. You may remember, Kathy was sent to her room once for threatening the efficacy of character training with her laughter and now she was risking a paddling at the side of the road. After shushing her sister, Susie responded to her daughter’s negotiations for a quarter, “Well, I’m sorry, Karen. That’s just not enough!”

Instant silence, again. The next thing they hear is Karen’s small, plaintive voice saying, “I’ll give you a dollar.”

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers

The Clown Car

You may be surprised to learn that my family was part of a circus act. We performed every Wednesday evening and twice on Sunday for a least a year back in 1973, then expanded our act in 1974.

This was the gig the congregation at our church would gather to watch after every service ended: My family of six people would all pile into the family car, a 1973 Ford Pinto (You see, it was a clown car before the act even got started.)

To begin, Wayne would get in and sit on the hump in the back. Kathy and I would fold ourselves in on either side of him, where I would balance Dad’s guitar case. The members of the Back Seat Crew weren’t little either. We were aged sixteen, twelve, and ten years old at the time. After the BSC were settled, the FSC would perform. Susie would climb in the front of the car and perch prettily on the console, and Dad and Mom would swoop gracefully in to take the spacious driver and passenger seats, respectively.

The bonus for the congregation was if they were outside to see the front end of our performance when we burst out of the car after arriving at church. I think some people came to church just to watch our performance, but it is not an evangelizing tool I would recommend.

And the expansion of our act? Mary Ellen was born. She, of course, immediately snagged a coveted spot with the FSC on Mom’s lap. The BSC, of course, was taxed with the responsibility for keeping up with her carry-on luggage filled with clothing, food, and burp cloths which the little princess demanded as her due. Such a prima donna!

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers.

Kathy Con-“fronts” the Bully

One day when my sister, Kathy, was around four-years-old, she came running to Mom with a sad, sad tale.

It seems there was a pint-sized bully causing problems for the neighborhood children. He had actually hit Kathy, which was what sent her running.

Mom, recognizing an opportunity to instill some assertiveness and self-reliance in her daughter told her, “You get right back out there and you hit him back.” (Hey, people from the eastern Kentucky hills, even those transplanted to Ohio, don’t back down!)

A little later, Kathy came into the house, still upset. “What happened?” my Mom asked. “Did you hit him back?”

My sister started crying. “I couldn’t hit his back,” she wailed. . .

“So, I hit his front!”

Kathy, circa 1960. Isn't she a cutie?

Kathy, circa bully-thumpin’

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers. Hey, it’s not too late for you to join us!

My Looney Tunes Family

Perhaps every close knit family has its own language–music, sports jargon, whatever. My family speaks Looney Tunes. Fluently. No joke. Seriously, would I make up something like that? (“You might, Rabbit. You might.”

It’s nearly impossible to go to a restaurant and order a meal. For instance:

Server: Are you ready to order?

Me:  I would like…

Any sibling: “I would like? I would like a trip to Europe!”

That’s just the beginning. The reason my brother calls me Ijitt?

Why did this inspire my brother to call me Ijitt? No clue. I promise you, I have never sneezed fire out of my snout and set anything on fire. (I really hope I don’t need to tell you that I don’t even have a snout.)

Still, it’s OK. Most of the time. We have a lot of fun. Or maybe I should say they have a lot fun. . . . .no, it’s “we.” (“Aha! Pronoun trouble!”)

You’ll have to look that last one up yourself  😉

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers. Hey, it’s not too late for you to join us!