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A Parental Guide to Morning Smiles

3024 4032 Austin Barrow

A Parental Guide to Morning Smiles

Every morning it’s a battle. What’ll we listen to for the ten minutes it takes me to drive these two little monkeys to school? There’s not much time in the drive, so the decision must be concise.

The battle lines are typically drawn early in the morning over oatmeal. There are few decisions as important as this one before 8AM, with the exception of who will sit in the front seat. Dibs is the current working model of front seat assignments and has worked thus far. My fingers are crossed that this lasts until they begin to drive their own cars, at which time I will just become a complete basket case of nerves I’m sure.

This morning I threw a wrench into the works … Daddy picked the music. I have been attempting to slowly introduce what I believe to be good music to my children. In today’s download culture, there are WAAAAY too many songs that are inappropriate for teenage or younger ears, and many not appropriate at all. I’m no prude, but DAMN.

My guess on the wave of explicit new work is that in an era where radio play is secondary to downloads, you get to say whatever you feel like. In general, this sounds like a great idea, but when looking for my new music addiction, it leaves me with little to be shared on a car ride with the kids.

The debate began this morning while I was filling up my coffee roadie. My daughter (the youngest) swinging in her new swing begging her brother to push her higher and higher was already determined the music selection was hers to be had because he had claimed the front seat. Little did they know, I had already made a selection for them.

For the morning’s education, I picked Counting Crows. I’m not sure what spawned the idea, perhaps a sense of melancholy was on the docket for the day, and I just didn’t realize it yet. We started with the ever-popular and upbeat Mr. Jones, but it was the second song that really sealed the deal. Getting two songs in before I get my little girl to school is a bit difficult as we live very close, but as soon as Colorblind came on, I knew I had them.

The doors off of the Jeep, the wind blowing through their hair, and the morning sun shining through the thin strands as they fluttered … it was one of those moments. You know the moments where you just want to hit pause for a second and take it all in so you don’t forget it ever. I seem to have more an more of these since I have passed the threshold of forty, and it makes me wish I had paid closer attention when I was younger.

People have told me my kids are at the “Magic Age.” Both recently had birthdays and are thirteen and eight. One is just a moment before entering high school and the other beginning to realize that the world is a big wonderous place full of possibility. They put up with their old man pretty well, but I know this patience is fleeting.

A couple hundred feet from the drop-off and the little lady demands a change in mood. We make a shift to The Black Eyed Peas (what can I say … I try) for a more upbeat finish before she hops out and walks/dances into school for the day with a face full of excitement and anticipation.

It doesn’t always work, but the rest of the day seems like it’s full of positivity and potential when I can successfully start their day off with a little joy. There’s something special in finding a way to put a smile on another person’s face, not to mention the face of a child. And the fact that they are mine, and they look at you with those big eyes and smile … wow, how can that not make your day better?

Coming Home

3024 4032 Austin Barrow

Coming Home

For some reason, the holiday season always reminds me of coming home. It’s likely because for most of my adult life I lived somewhere that required me to travel home to see family for Christmas. I remember spending more than half of my holiday budget on flights for my wife and I then another third to ship any gifts we may give or receive to and from each respective location.

Should we travel, stay home or sit and question in atrophy?

I remember one Christmas in particular flying from Los Angeles to Little Rock on standby with Southwest Airlines. For anyone unfamiliar, standby is where you wait for open seats to come available on a flight, and then you get to hop on at the last minute. That long list of passengers they call on right before the plane takes off? Those are your standby flyers.

Usually, this is pretty easy to do, especially if you are not headed to a favorite location or are willing to fly at an unpopular time slot, but this was Christmas. It was not the smartest idea, and we only made it to Dallas before we finally gave up. I think we spent as much money on hotels over three days as we would have, had we just bought a ticket outright.

This seems poignant this year, as so many of my holiday traditions have been tossed amuck. Having lost our family’s matriarch and patriarch in the past year, a lot of the running around has ceased, and the stillness in its place is deafening.

It’s not as if other holiday traditions do not still go on, or new ones will pop up in their place, but what will they be and who gets to decide? For the first time, I feel the pressure of deciding how I’m going to spend my holiday season. Should we travel, stay home or sit and question in atrophy?

Unfortunately, it is the later. As much as I am an advocate for change, the idea of change during this time of year makes me weary. It seems simpler to put on a cozy pair of socks, watch a couple of lousy holiday movies and each too much divinity.

We’re Not Always Meant to Understand

4032 3024 Austin Barrow

We're Not Always Meant to Understand

A large red arch hovers over the Amphitheater construction site this morning pumping concrete into several future foundation locations. It causes one to ponder why concrete must move up forty feet to fall forty feet before dropping six feet into the ground. It would seem like going directly into the hole might be a more efficient and economical way of delivering the product needed for the solution. However, there are obviously properties at play here that we do not understand.

 

Sometimes we must simply have faith that there are answers we are not always meant to understand.

I find this to be true in many instances in life. You are presented with an interesting or unexpected condition where the solution seems to be a simple and obvious one upon first glance, but upon further investigation you learn that you might not know as much as you think you know. A law of physics, man or God gives you reason to pause.

It turns out that it’s actually faster, and more economical to use the large articulating boom arm of a concrete pump than a traditional on site mix station or mixing transport truck. With the boom they can reach any specific point within a radius of the arm, which looks to be in excess of one hundred feet long from where I’m sitting. On a site like ours, where there are multiple trades, multiple contractors and several different individual projects all working at the same time, the best solution is the one that at first seems unconventional, but is actually the industry standard.

Orthodoxy is an interesting phenomenon in our daily experience. A pastor of mine once told a story of a mother that sliced the ends off of a ham before she cooked it for a family holiday. When questioned by her young daughter why she did it, she answered, “Because that was the way I was taught!” This question rolled over to an aunt, up to a grandmother and finally landed in the great-grandmother’s lap. Each answer had been the same until that final ask, where the young girl’s great-grandmother responded, “So it would fit in the pan.”

I was hit again on Monday with another instance of misunderstanding when I lost one of my grandfathers. He was a humble and hardworking man that always took on problems with his head up and a look of curiosity in his eye. The moment after he left us we all looked around the room at one another in silence, and you could see the question of “why” floating in the air. Sometimes we must simply have faith that there are answers we are not always meant to understand.

So, no matter the oddity, irregularity or unfamiliar let’s all face the unusual with our head up, a smile on our face and curious spirit because however obvious the answer might be, you might not know what you think you know.