Throwing Fits

Earlier today, John really wanted a cookie (he calls them cakies). I informed him he needed to eat his food first, and then he could have dessert when we came home. He proceeded to have a pretty good meltdown, complete with a healthy portion of tears and carrying on.

He wanted that cookie right then and was pissed when he didn’t get it.

Around the same time, my older son wanted to go for a bike ride with his grandpa (we were hanging out over there). That didn’t work out, either, and he went into a class III pout/sulk. This is an 8 year-old version of throwing a fit, and not much different from what his little brother was doing.

He wanted to go for that ride, and he was pissed when he didn’t get to.

I was thinking about the whole thing tonight when we got home and it occurred to me how much like that we are with God. We go to him with entreaties for what we think we need to have or want to do and we throw fits if it doesn’t happen on our timetables.

We want our cookies now, and sometimes there are other things we need to do first, or go through first.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. There was a time a few years before I met my wife when I was convinced I’d met the person I was “supposed” to be with. I remember praying that God would help that situation work out in my favor. I was convinced that if it happened with us, every other messed up thing about my life and myself would suddenly make sense.

It did work out, for a time, and I was happy enough. But not really. I knew she was pulling me away from God, but I didn’t care. I told myself I had things under control.

I don’t think it surprised anyone when things imploded in a spectacular fashion that messed me up for years, until a beautiful young woman from Yuma sent me a message on MySpace.

After things ended, I was furious with God. I resolved not to ever share that part of myself with anyone again, even though I desperately wanted to. With that resolution, I was also withholding part of me from God. It wasn’t just the matter of denying my company to the ladies, but also rejecting the part of me God created to know him best.

I was throwing a fit, because I wanted to be with this woman and God knew better than I what I actually needed.

Maybe it’s like that with you, or has been. You want something from God or someone else, and you want it now.

Maybe you won’t get it. I don’t know how you respond to that, but for me it made me want to turn away from God rather than toward him. It made me take my toys and leave the sandbox for a while, metaphorically speaking.

It didn’t help at all.

So how do you handle it when God doesn’t give you what you want? Do you throw a fit? Do you sulk? Do you run toward God or away from him?

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Of Raisin Nut Bran and the Man With No Nose

I suppose I’ll never learn. Today, everything was going smoothly enough. David was ready early, and had already eaten breakfast. John was watching the ambiguously gay dinosaur and minding his own business and I realized I hadn’t yet gone “PeePee.”

It seemed like I had time for a quick standup, so I hurried to the back to take care of my business. I left the door open to listen for screams and was about 5 seconds into things when I heard the pantry door slide open.

“John Ryan, get out of the closet!”

I heard the door slide closed and hurriedly finished up. I had just flushed when I heard “oh, no!” from the living room.

“Aw, crap.”

I rushed toward the living room and was greeted in the hallway by a guilty-looking toddler.

“Daddy, eat food.”

“I’ll get you something to eat, but first I have to clean up whatever you just did.”

“Daddy, hi.”

“Hi, John. Let ‘s go see what happened.”

What happened was that John found big brother’s cereal.

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“Wonderful.”

I figured cleanup would have to wait until we got back from taking David to school, so we all loaded up and got going.

We dropped David off, and headed to Albertsons to pick up a few things. We were in the dairy section when I saw an older gentleman with no nose pushing a shopping cart. He had a bandage taped flatly to his face, without a bulge underneath. John, of course, was kind enough to point him out to me in his absolutely loudest voice.

“Daddy! What’s that?” (which is pronounced, ‘Daddy, zat?’)

“He’s shopping, buddy. Same as us.” I pushed the cart to the veggie section at warp speed.

We finally got home with no more incidents, and John was kind enough to help with the cleanup in the living room.

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I fixed John some “toe” and made myself some eggs and veggie sausage. John took a single bite of toe, and then decided his cleanup efforts had been too exhausting to continue.

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The rest of the day should be interesting.

Of Eggs and Toe

Jen is out of town this week, so I’m flying solo with the boys. I’ve done it before, so there are certain things I should be fully aware of by now. You can’t turn your head for even a second. I should have already known that, but I allowed a few minutes of peace to lull me into complacency.

David was watching some Lego show and John was playing quietly. He was riding his “bike” (a Razor Jr scooter) back and forth behind the couch and it seemed like a good time to check email and social networking.

Suddenly, it got quiet and I could no longer see John riding his bike. My blood ran cold.

“John Ryan!”

I heard something crunch from behind the couch.

Crap.

John came around the corner of the couch with a broken egg shell clutched in his slimy little fist.

$&&&!!@&332!!!$!!!!! “Sit in the chair, John Ryan!!”

I took the broken shell out of his hand and put his toddler butt in our current timeout chair. With a sigh and a muttered curse I headed over to assess the damage:

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I got the Spic N Span and a handful of paper towels and got to work. After John served his two minutes, he came over to supervise.

“Daddy, hi.”

“You’re in trouble, Mr.”

“Hi!”

“Hi, John.”

John gave a little parade wave. “Daddy. Hi.”

“Daddy is busy right now. Cleaning. Up. Egg. Slime.”

“Sorry, Daddy. Sorry.”

“It’s ok, buddy.”

“Daddy, toast (he calls it TOE).”

“In a minute.”

I finished cleaning up the egg mess and sat down for a minute to catch my breath and pray for a little patience.

“Daddy, book!”

“OK.”

Just then, the corner of this:

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Slammed me right in the beanbag.

“Get in the chair, John.”

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“I’ll make you some toe, but first you have to tell Daddy sorry for hitting him in the nuts.”

A full minute of silence.

“Sorry.”

“You have to eat your yogurt before you get toe.”

“Yoyurt.”

“Yes.”

Several minutes and many tears later, a carton of Yoyurt was consumed.

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That all happened between 6 and 7. Time to make some toe.

Assassination

I wrote a little bit about the first theater I worked for, and some of the hilarity that ensued when we got bored, or had new people to…break in.

I’m not sure why, but today I thought of something some of the guys used to do at the other theater I worked for.

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As you can see, it was a much larger theater. 18 theaters in all, on two levels. I was mainly a projectionist, but would occasionally go down on the floor to help out. One time I saw a few of the floor managers and employees standing around in a circle talking.

I walked over and hung out for a little. They were just talking trash like young people do when one of the floor staff leaned down and punched another guy right in the basket. Hard. Then he ran off into a theater. All the other guys just stood around laughing while the unfortunate victim kind of bent over with his hands on his knees, contemplating his shoelaces.

“What the hell was that?” I asked.

“They’re playing this game,” one of the managers explained. “They call it ‘assassination.’ You basically wait until a guy isn’t paying attention and then you hit him in the junk.”

“And this is fun.”

“Dude, it’s hilarious. Matt put a red solo cup over his stuff.”

“You need to make a little more constructive use of their time.”

“What? Like…clean something?”

“Sometimes I worry about the future of mankind.”

“What…?”

“Nothing. But the first guy that hits me in the sack is getting thrown over the wall into the lobby. I’m too old for that crap.”

No one ever tried to assassinate me. I had a bit of a reputation for being a little cranky with the youngsters. I could tell you some stories about the things that went on in that building…

*******

That was a fun place to work, and I met a great many life changing people there as well. Some for the better, and some not so much. I wouldn’t change any of it. It got me here.

From There to Here

I’ve been trying to organize a bunch of my thoughts over the past year or so into something a little more cohesive. I wanted to share with people a bit more about where I was, and how I got here from there. My final result ended up looking like this. For better or worse, it’s done. Check it out if you have a chance. You can post your comments here if you want to let me know what you think.

Get Off The Couch!

Carlos Whittaker Tweeted a great link today to one of his blog posts, and it made me think again about how important it is to be part of your kids’ world.

It’s something that’s been more than a little difficult for me, and I’ve got lots of excuses for not doing it.

I’m too tired.

I just got home from work.

Daddy has schoolwork to do.

Daddy has to do this, or that, or the other. Then he’ll play.

Lately I’ve been thinking of that Cat’s In The Cradle song, and that one day it will be too late to play. John is two now, and David is 8.

So what I’ve been trying to do lately is say screw my tiredness. If the baby hands me a toy or dead phone, I answer it. If he holds it up to his ear, I talk to him.

This past weekend, I joined an epic sword fight in the courtyard.

I plan to do the Baby Bop Hop with John when it comes on, and I usually sing the Kung Fu panda theme song when David watches it (he likes the part where Jack Black sings about Legends of awesomeness) because it makes the baby laugh and David squirm a little. I am also not above joining a Kinect dance party to try and make my sons laugh.

My point is that I don’t want my kids to remember me sitting on the couch and falling asleep. I don’t want them to think about Dad being Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. I want them to remember me clowning with them, and laughing with them, and rolling around on the floor ‘rassling.’

So even though I often (usually, even) don’t feel like doing anything but sitting on the couch until bedtime, it’s not OK to do that anymore.

I need to get off my butt and clown with my kids. Parenting is not about me, it’s about them. I need to do better.

What’s becoming more and more clear to me is how important it is to laugh with your kids. They’ll remember it.

If you don’t know the words to the songs they listen to, or what the shows they like are about, find out. You won’t regret it. To that end…