Easter is coming soon after Lenten season and celebration of our risen Savior will be at last. It also brings with it plenty of interesting family memories. We have accrued a few that will surely be passed down through the family annals.
The tradition of dying real, hard boiled eggs is a mystery to me. I’ve never escaped the ritual nor come away with anything but discolored fingertips every Easter morning. However, it’s a tradition and the Turners don’t ask questions, we just do. On one Easter eve many years ago, my husband hid all the colored eggs INSIDE our house. There were almost three dozen and I was a bit upset to find dye on way more than the eggs. Plus, someone needs to REMEMBER where they were hidden, right? A belated found egg could result in an unwelcome stench. The following year I begged, pleaded, and nearly cried to have them hidden outside in the childrens’ play-yard instead. Their dad reluctantly agreed and all were hidden safely outside the night before. Unforeseen circumstances had it that a raccoon must have been watching and grinning nearby because on Easter morning, only two eggs could be found and many shells laid scattered. No one sided with mama after that so all future eggs were hidden back INSIDE our house once again.
On another Easter occasion, we had a parent’s nightmare. The family dog, Fluffy, was big, fat and named after the three headed Rottweiler off Harry Potter. He was loving and tolerant of childrens’ antics but a demon when it came to small rodents or cats. So, luck would have it that bright and early on Easter morning, Fluffy had just so happened to chase, catch, and kill a bunny RIGHT OUTSIDE our home. Neither us parents noticed until too late and the boys saw the evidence. One then cried, “Fluffy ate the Easter Bunny!!!” It was a gruesome sight and difficult to explain it wasn’t THE Easter Bunny but just happened to be a rabbit he caught. Those four young, sad, quizzical faces will be imprinted in our minds forever.
Easter morning pictures were somehow mandatory and I want to cold cock whoever said it had to be done. I’d force dress up the boys and our daughter would dutifully don her new Easter outfit. Then I’d attempt to stage a photo before we left for church. This was a necessity because it also became a tradition for our sons to roll down the green knoll outside the church in a pile each Sunday.
Somehow, we got through all the traditions and now we just attempt at dying eggs as there are less takers. I try to avoid the “duty of dye” and have relaxed all my Easter expectations. A little dye, unmatched outfits and the dreaded family pic are all in the past. Now I just wish to have all four home on Easter. A colorful jewel-toned egg would even be a welcome site peeking out behind a pillow.
Young children are blissfully unencumbered by awkward things we adults have to navigate. They tend to take things head on and react exactly how they feel or, ignore them altogether. There are three such instances that make me smile every time.
The first occurred when we took our children on a cruise. Aside from lots of swimming and games, we also took them to an evening show in the ship’s theatre. It was a show featuring lavishly dressed dancers and music. One son, being approximately 6 years old had never seen sparkly, dancer’s costumes before. When the velvet curtains parted, his eyes got wide, he turned around and blurted out, “Daddy, those women forgot their pants!”
Another surprising moment occurred when my husband took one of our 10 year old sons out for wings on a football Saturday. We were out of town and he took him (here it comes) to Hooters. When they returned, he said where they had gone. I was very curious how our impressionable, sheltered son would react to the scantily clad servers. So, I hesitantly asked while fearing the worst but he said he DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE!
Last, but not least, one occurred when our 10 year old went snorkeling with his grandfather in the Caribbean. When rinsing off in outdoor showers, his grandfather told him not react but a nudist couple was walking nearby on the beach. Not only did his face more than give away his feelings on the matter, but he was reportedly more appalled due to their being old……
In 1989, the Replacements released a song with the lyrics, “You be me for a while, and I’ll be you.” Those words got me to ponder what it’d be like to temporarily be someone else? Being Hollywood’s most successful actor sound like a winner? Or how about becoming a gold medaled, Olympic-athlete? Maybe being royal would satisfy a fantastical life experience for some. I’d personally like to experience being Reese Witherspoon for a day due to her accomplishments: actor, author, and producer. She’s got a book tour, she’s beautiful and rich, however, I digress.
Contrarily, what if you were to swap lives with someone of a different gender, religion, or ethnicity? What about being a kid again and letting your kid be the grownup like in the movie “Freaky Friday?” Not quite as enticing is it? But it seems we may need to do just that to entertain being empathetic and potentially budge from our own rigid opinions.
It dawned on me this morning when I was getting ready for work the shirt I put on was a jewel-toned blue. I had scored a silk shirt of a favorite designer with tags on (!) from eBay. Strangely, the seller advertised it as purple. I realized the metaphor in that moment that each person sees things differently.
We each “see” based on our DNA, personal history, value system, and circumstances. Each of our views is limited in scope based on our location, both physically and mentally. It’s one of the reasons there are many referees on the field in college football. There is so much to see that it is impossible to assess from only one viewpoint. Watching games, we think we know what’s happened but after review, the head ref might change the call. It’s because he gets additional input from others on the field (and a camera or two). In that same vein, what if we attempted to understand others by taking in many different viewpoints before coming to our own opinions? Maybe we’d recognize we all want the same things and aren’t so different regardless our ethnicity, political beliefs, gender, or religion? Perhaps there would be less distrust and anger between us? It seems like a possible solution to all the polarization worldwide and even in my own home.
It has been a highly contentious week or so for government in America. Since we seem to have devolved to bickering, ranting, name-calling and blame gaming, the thought struck me that maybe we should let kindergarteners make decisions instead. Jesus said to come to Him as little children, not as multi-degreed, life experienced, accolade- laden adults.
Children give transparent, literal, and quite honest opinions. For instance, when our daughter was in preschool, she saw a woman with a large belly and said out loud, “Look mommy, she has a baby in her tummy!” Nope, she DID NOT have a baby in her tummy, she said, she just “looked like it.” (Face palm inserted here.) Another example was when our son was in second grade and he got in trouble by his music teacher for blurting out during music class. When his regular teacher heard about his infraction, she asked him why he did that because she just knew he would not do that in her class. He said, “Yes, ma’am, I would blurt out in your class too…..you said to be honest.” So there we go. Honest to the point of fault. Can we even fathom our leaders being honest to a fault?
Lenny Kravitz sings to “Let Love Rule” in a popular ’90s era song. Children seem so much more open to it than we “life experienced” adults are. At a small group meeting at the local retirement home, one woman remarked how it made her so bothered that people don’t “see” her anymore now that she is older. When I asked her what she meant by being seen, she said just acknowledged when she is passed by. It got me to ponder my neglect to acknowledge others in my flurry of activities. Being too busy to be nice is not a good thing. With that in mind, I have decided to simply “see” people I encounter from now on. I was taught by an Indian friend that to say, “Namaste” basically means, “I see you.” It is time to up the Namaste, both in my own sphere and in government. Maybe then I won’t have to convince my coworker’s grandson to go ahead and run for Congress.
Does anyone else have a junk drawer that is basically a black hole? It’s full, but of who knows what? Recently, I spent hours going through one of these looking for something. Of course, it never appeared but some other really cool stuff did. I ended up reminiscing through pictures, children’s art, cards and very old documents from my grandparents. I highly recommend doing it sometime. Just sit down and take an inventory of your past years. Updated perspective is truly remarkable.
Some of the amazing items found were over a hundred years old. I happened upon my grandfather’s 1926 certificate of initiation into the Alpha chapter of Pi Kappa Phi at College of Charleston. I also found a tenant farmer deed that was originally signed in 1884. It was glued to the new one signed and notarized in 1909. I have no idea what to do with it but just touching the papered history of my family felt special. The children’s art is way too numerous to detail, but I loved the preschool mom letters. Ridiculously cute, they described me as 45 pounds and basically perfect (where did that opinion go?). A prized find was a tiny journal I had jotted some hilarious encounters with my children in. If any of you still have small children around, it is so worth it.
One entry in the journal had me at dinner with two of them. Apparently, one son wanted to say the Lord’s Prayer since he recently learned it. He began and then I noticed he said, “And lead us into temptation…” Upon finishing, I corrected him that it was actually, “And lead us NOT into temptation.” He shrugged and said, “What’s the big deal? It’s only ONE word!” Another was driving home from school, our daughter was reading about the Holocaust. She shared a very tragic story of a woman whose husband was shot in front of her and she delivered a stillborn days later. It was a very somber, quiet moment until my son said to me, “And you think YOU have stress!” (He had a very good point.)
As funny as the stories were, the art sweet, and the old pictures meaningful, I was amazed at the feeling of positivity that came from reminiscing. It was like looking back through a filtered, edited frame that provided good light and a beautiful landscape of my life. Sometimes, saved clutter can be good thing (sorry, Martha).
There have rarely been times when I have been totally and completely blindsided by my offspring. Since I had become so conditioned to strategize, I always felt the best possible outcome would ensue with the least amount of negativity. I became so accustomed to this mindset, I literally divided my day into quadrants- morning, afternoon, evening, and night. I micro -managed each detail so I might feel the tiniest bit in control.
It was farcical to be so type “A” when I lived a perpetual play date (triplet boys) that could go wrong at any second. Sure, I could plan but something was always bound to pop up.
One such afternoon, the children were all together at a friends’ house. They were having a fun time playing and there were about 5 of them. Our girls were in charge since they had reached babysitting age and could easily access us moms who were two blocks away.
It was a welcome break to see friends myself and get to visit. We were at a local tapas and wine store sipping and chatting when our cell phones began blowing up. Apparently, one son had gone upstairs to hang out and decided it would be fun to play on the phone. This resulted in cop cars WITH BLUE LIGHTS FLASHING to dash to their house assuming there was an emergency. One son had curiously pushed “911-111-1111” on the phone just to see what would happen. The cops asked where the parents were and they told them, “At the wine store drinking wine.”
Not only did our friends get highly embarrassed that cop cars pulled into their Main Street house for the world’s speculation, but we moms felt no parenting awards were coming our way either.
The first time I heard the term “PLU” was when I described a crowd. My sis-in-law said, “You mean PLUs.” I asked what that meant and she said, “People Like Us.” She nailed it. She wasn’t referring to people like her, but rather a group of similar people. The homogenous crowd I described WAS so alike I could have easily described one individual or the collective group and they seemed the exact same.
Recall being pigeon-holed by people as a prep, jock, or geek in high school? It was how kids identified themselves and each other. It was major effort to get to know someone outside your bubble. And more often than not, that cross- pollination didn’t happen that much.
Calling a crowd a “PLU” is not necessarily a compliment. When people only associate with like minded, like-appearing and like-interested groups, not a whole lot of influence or change occurs. It’s like we sometimes cocoon ourselves in familiarity, therefore protecting ourselves from appearing different from our perceived assigned group.
Growing up, our children were very open to a vast array of friends. Some were foreign exchange students from Germany, China, Roatán, and Poland that would visit. One of our sons called his friends “the misfits” in middle school. It wasn’t negative, just a description of his “Non-PLUs.” He already got how it was cool to get to know and get along with a myriad of people.
I used to be concerned with being in a PLU crowd. It was exhaustive trying to maintain the associations, relationships, activities and enrollments I self imposed on myself. Once I got over my petty insecurities, I realized I identified with all ages of people. I met some of the coolest people in non-PLU territory. They are 81-94 years and I love them! Had I not looked outside my PLU, I’d have missed that HUGE blessing!
Before anyone calls the cops (or DHR for that matter), please read the rest of the story. When our daughter was about two years old, she had a really hard time verbalizing syllables. Her brother’s name, Jordan, was especially hard for her to pronounce. She ended up spontaneously calling him “Weedo.” We all ended up calling him that for nearly 15 years until he finally (exasperatedly) expressed his true feelings about his nickname. And they were not pleasant!
The term of endearment did, however, apply until high school. Since we typically made his lunch on school days, one morning I absentmindedly wrote “Weed” on his lunch bag. He either didn’t notice or didn’t care. When he went to lunch, his friends died laughing over the fact he was carrying his bag of “Weed.”
It started 21 years ago when I was Orca the Whale. I was already on “bed arrest” for a high risk pregnancy but then had to be admitted to a teaching hospital with a neonatal unit. This aged facility was where my Cornish hen-sized babies would enter the world too early at 30 weeks. I recall there being lots of preterm, laboring moms that night and no room for admittance. So I got to lie on a gurney for a bed with a curtain as a partition. I recall garish, exposed, fluorescent bulbs, and the view of a mega dust bunny gliding back and forth over my head. To keep the babies baking longer, I was given a med that caused vomiting. Not just a little either. So, in my 1/2 star accommodations, I thought to myself, “This can’t be happening.” But it did. And it kept happening for 6 more weeks….
The next time it happened I was outnumbered and carting all my brood to a public library. It was one of the very few places I could go with 4 preschoolers without doing a perpetual head count. Since we were potty training, I was relieved there was a potty right there too. We go in the library and one of my guys is so engrossed in his trains that he goes #2 right there by the train table, completely unnoticed. (As you know, children run around and around and back and forth A LOT when playing at a train table.) To add insult to injury, my sons also had on deep-trekked shoes and were innocently “painting” the carpet with the “accident.” I got a sudden whiff and the panic set in. My 911 button was pushed and I went into damage control. Mortified, I take the culprit to get cleaned up. Then, the perturbed librarian comes at me with carpet cleaner. I thought to myself, “This can’t be happening!” But as sure as stink it did! I got to clean carpet, clean children, clean shoes and accept the fact we couldn’t go there ever, ever again.
Looking back, those minor horrors were “Boot Camp” to prepare me for a whole lot to come. I can take a whole lot more stress now than I could back then. I am not as fazed at shattered windows, fender benders, and escaped pet snakes. Maybe God knew I needed to be pushed. Maybe He knew what would get through to me. I really don’t know, but I can definitely say I got the message.
Human condition can be measured without scientific, in-depth studies. It can easily be assessed when three, preteen boys have too much time on their hands.
Not realizing their idea was of the psycho-sociological nature, they took several rolls of plastic wrap and attached their willing brother to a pole on our road purely for reaction. He willingly complied since he had watched one too many episodes of Impractical Jokers. (Thoughtful as the perpetrators were, they left plenty of room for him to breathe.) The other two hid nearby in anticipation of stranger’s reactions.
Apparently, they had only two passersby and only one vehicle slowed down long enough to check he was actually breathing.
From a scientist’s perspective, the study was a bust. Not enough participants and the results were skewed. But to the boys, at least two hours had gone by and they got what they wanted- their own laughs.