I saw a great video tonight…. and it has me thinking…. First, here’s the video. It’s funny. Watch……
Pretty silly, huh… all those cars, stopping or slowing down, thinking that there was some obstacle ahead of them. All of this based on the actions of two guys standing on the sides of the street.
Time for the deep thoughts. How often do WE do this? We can play all of the roles in this video.
First, how often do we let what other people are doing/saying determine our focus or our actions for the moment/day/week/year/lifetime? The controversy of the moment becomes our focus. I see it happen all the time with things like Facebook and the internet researchers we call the “news”–for example, HOW many people jumped on the “Boycott KFC” bandwagon when we all thought that they had kicked out a poor little girl with horrendous dog-mauling disfiguration. How many of us passed that news along, or shared it on Facebook, only to find out that it was a complete hoax? I know that I have been swept up in controversies from time to time, when my focus would have been better served in just driving along, doing what I need to do for my happiness and that of my family.
I’m not advocating isolationism here–just that sometimes, the only reason WE get caught up in the clamor of the world, is because it is clamoring so loudly–not because we would give it any merit if we were to sit and analyze it, but because, I don’t know, if the guys LOOK like they are pulling a rope across the road, there must be a rope, right?
I know that I sometimes doubt what I am doing, even when I’ve carefully thought about it, analyzed it, prayed about it–just because someone expresses doubt or thinks I’m wrong. I might get defensive because someone has an opinion that I see as an attack on my methods. I see ropes across the road where there are none.
Secondly, how often are WE the rope-pullers? Are we causing people to stop and question themselves, their paths, their actions, when in reality, they don’t need to? This happens a lot with friends and family, or people at church–they are tooling along, doing their thing, and we suddenly see a problem with it. So we point it out. Enough people start pulling that rope, as it were, and now our “driver” is stopping, or slowing, thinking that there must be some issue, simply because WE see one. Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t provide guidance or advice. To keep with the symbolism, of course you want to keep drivers from falling into a ginormous sinkhole just ahead…. but just be careful to not be the guy pulling the invisible ropes.
The one I want to be? The guy on the bike at the end, that doesn’t know what those guys are doing, but has places to be and things to do, so he just avoids the whole mess all together, without missing a beat.
I’ve been going through boxes in my family’s effort to clean and organize our home (a battle that has been going on for six years now). I opened a heavy cardboard box, the musty smell lingering in my nostrils. The box is full of pictures—hundreds, maybe over a thousand–from my Dad’s life. There are an inordinate amount of pictures of me, but also many, many pictures of people I don’t recognize at all. I have my work cut out for me.
Dad passed away when I was thirteen. He was 46 when I was born, and already had adult children, so there was a whole life there that I knew very little about. I won’t bore/sadden you with details of how just about everything pertaining to my Dad disappeared for the rest of my youth, but suffice it to say that this box is essentially all I have of him. It was given to me when I was about 24 years old. Since then, I occasionally pull things out and piece together what his life must have been like, and what HE was like, beyond the few memories I personally have of him.
My dad was many things: Teamster, welder, carpenter, salesman, bartender (I think–judging from pictures), terrible father, awesome father, good friend, genealogist, dutiful son….. and poet. I am going to put up one of his poems for all (my 4 readers) to see:
Restless Soul (by Lee Lay)
Like the winds that blow thru the high skies
and the waves that roll thru the sea
Like the shifting sands of the desert
is this restless soul in me.
Like the birds that fly thru the air so free
and the wild things that roam alone
Is this restless soul inside of me
that won’t let me stay at home.
To have the things that other men have
I know can never be
As long as this restless soul in me
keeps yearning to be free.
I’m like the wind and like the birds
I’m like the waves and the sand
To stay in one place very long
is more than I can stand.
All you happy people have pity upon me
For I can never be like you
My restless soul
Won’t let me free.
To me, Dad was silly, strong, mischievous, and devil-may-care–this poem, and a few others like it, taught me that he had a melancholy inside that most didn’t see. I wish I could have had more of an opportunity to know him.
The good news is that I feel him with me all the time. I also see him in the mirror, and in my children. Lastly, I know that I will be with him again when at last we all meet in heaven.
My son is a genius. He’s always been ahead of the curve. He walked early, talked young (and hasn’t stopped), he could kick a ball and throw with accuracy as a toddler. So when he, as a fourteen-month-old, started wanting to sit on his little Froggy potty, and even pooped in it once, I was secretly fist pumping and practicing my sympathetic looks for all the mommies of the boys his age in our playgroup.
Then it stopped. With his sudden halt in toilet interest, came a corresponding spike in my desperation. Meanwhile, one mom I ran into at Target (buying new underwear for her boy), told me all about how she had trained him at not-quite-eighteen-months, by filling him with water and juice and letting him run around the house naked all day with multiple potties set up in different areas of the house. That seemed pretty crazy. I wasn’t quite there at that point. My little monkey was only eighteen months old. There was no reason to panic, yet.
Months passed. He turned two. I started suggesting he use the potty. At first it was just a quick, “Hey, ya wanna try the potty?” every once in a while. He never wanted to. When he turned three, it turned into “WHY don’t you want to go in the potty?” His answer, “I just want to go in my diaper, Mom.” Well, never let it be said that he doesn’t know what he wants.
I started trying to bribe him. I got him a packet of cool underwear. He agreed we should try wearing them. I didn’t even have pants on him, and he went in the potty! Once. Then he discovered that 1) peeing out your underwear feels funny enough to stand there and laugh hysterically while you do it, and 2) Mom freaking out only lasts for thirty seconds until she realizes that she doesn’t want this to be a fight, or about control, or a negative experience, and gets a hold of herself enough to just put a diaper on you and clean up the puddle. In. The. Carpet. Back to the status quo.
Three and a half years old. My sweet boy has had sensitive skin in his nether regions for his whole life. What changed is that he became extremely articulate in describing just how bad his diaper rashes hurt. At the same time, he started thinking it was funny to lie about if he had a wet diaper. At first, I was hypervigilant, making him come get a change even if he said he wasn’t wet. Then, something snapped, and I told him, “Fine. Don’t get changed, but you’ll get a rash because you’re lying.” I choked down my tears at his terrible, sometimes bleeding, rashes, hoping he would learn to either let me change him, or just GO TO THE POTTY! Nope. He won. I went back to changing him at the slightest hint of poo or pee, because I couldn’t handle seeing his pain. Our whole family learned the chant, “You wouldn’t get a rash if you’d go in the potty,” whenever his sensitive skin presented him with diaper rash despite our best efforts.
I kept hearing from people who wanted to give me potty-training advice. All the nifty methods just seemed either silly, or cruel, or somewhere between. The one thing that stuck with me was the statement my sister-in-law said made about “forcing it” with her children, and how sometimes her children still wet. She suspects it’s in response to the way they were potty trained. I just wanted my boy to learn to go in the potty. I was okay with waiting for him to want it, as long as he wanted it before preschool started, because I didn’t want diapers to hold him back. I started pointing out his friends in underwear. We went on a field trip with the preschool his older best friend attended, and I made sure to remind my guy that he couldn’t go to preschool like his buddy without being potty trained. He said, “Well, I guess I can’t go, because I don’t want to go in the potty.” Again, he knew the consequences, and just didn’t want to make that leap.
Then, one magical day, my husband just randomly asked our almost-four-year-old, “Hey buddy, do you wanna wear underwear today?” and he said, “Yes! I would like to!” He wore cool Spiderman underwear, and had one small accident. I put him in little tightie-whities for the rest of the day (so cute, by the way). The next day, I pulled out one pair of Superman underwear, and a huge pile of white briefs. “You can wear the cool ones until you have an accident. Then it’s the white ones.” He agreed, and to my surprise, he hasn’t had to wear white underwear in the month since we made that arrangement.
Angels singing, sun shining in magical rays around our home, it’s a miracle! Once my sweet, smart boy decided it was time for the underpants, he took care of business. We’ve since been on short outings to the store, and recently, a long outing to the zoo. The two accidents he’s had have been the result of either a bad tummy from medicine, or a locked gate blocking the bathroom. We spent the month keeping him in diapers for sleeping, but he never wet the diapers. He climbs in bed with us sometimes, and I haven’t been ready to risk being peed on during the night—but that’s all changing. We told him if he had a month of dry diapers in the morning, he would get to wear underwear at night. Tonight will be his first night in Superman underwear. My fingers will be crossed all night long.