Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bed Time

What is bed time? For an adult, bed time is generally considered to be the time when the adult has finished doing whatever that adult is doing and no longer wishes to remain conscious. At that point, the adult will generally find a soft horizontal surface on which to lay and will then be silent and motionless until a state of sleep is achieved. This is how it normally works.

For a child, bed time is the time at which that child's primary authority unit (typically a parent) says that the child should also find a soft horizontal surface on which to lay, be silent, and remain motionless until a state of sleep is achieved. Generally, it is helpful for the child if the place where they lay is quiet, dark, and comfortably warm (or cool, depending on the time of year).

For my three children, bed time has three very different meanings.

For my youngest son, bed time is immediately preceded by a drink of water, a hug from one of his parents, and a story. This child will usually then climb into his bed and will then proceed to chatter for several minutes about very random stuff until his parent eventually makes an excuse to leave ("I really have to go to the bathroom!"), says goodnight for the thirtieth time, and walks away. He will usually be found asleep ten minutes later.

For my daughter, bed time is a process whereby she turns on a lamp that shines a dim rainbow across her walls (and in her face! despite her parents telling her not to do that) and stares at it until it turns off after it's ten minute timer expires. At that point, she will turn it on again and stare at it some more. This sometimes will happen three or four times until she finally drifts off to sleep.

For my oldest son, bed time involves at least one act of dishonesty. Every night at the appointed hour, he is instructed to go to bed, and every night, with a yawn, he agrees that it is time to do so. He will then go to the bathroom (slamming the toilet seat down in the bathroom right next to his sleeping sister's and brother's bedrooms), get a drink from the bathroom sink by noisily turning on and off the sink, and then slamming his door shut as he goes to bed. All this is done without any thought -- any thought -- on his part as to the effect it may have on his siblings.

Last night, he took a book with him into his room as he was closing the door. Knowing my son very well, I told him not to take the book in his room with him, as it was bed time and he needed to sleep. He then told me he wasn't going to read, but wanted to keep it in his room so he knew where it was in the morning. I told him to leave it in the hallway and he could get it from there in the morning. I also reminded him that he typically doesn't have time to read in the morning because he is often slow moving (and grumpy) when getting ready for school. He then assured me again that he wasn't going to stay up and read, and insisted that he would be quick when getting ready for school in the morning. Skeptical, I allowed him to take the book with him.

Half an hour later, my wife and I decided to go to bed, too. As I always do, I checked on the kids before I went to sleep, and sure enough, I found my daughter was still staring at her rainbow, my youngest son (happily) was sound asleep, and my oldest son had his reading lamp on and was reading. I took the book away, told him he was being dumb about this as he knows he needs his sleep, and threatened him that he better be quick to get ready and not give his mother trouble in the morning. His totally lame response? "I wasn't going to read when I went to bed." Uh huh.

This appears to be a regular routine for us for his bed time. Why doesn't he recognize how noisy he is being when he does his final stuff before going to his room? Why doesn't he recognize how hard the next day will be if he doesn't go to bed on time? Why doesn't he comprehend that the process of falling asleep requires that he be inactive, with the lights out and his mind idle? And most importantly of all, why does he insist on breaking his insistent promises to not stay up late reading? Because he's a stupid pre-teen, that's why. Studies have shown that children of that age don't reason properly, logical decision-making is impaired, and selfishness and self-centeredness is common.

I shake my head in bewilderment. I love my son, and I am grateful for him. Even so, I look forward to him getting through this stupid phase. I hear it will take another ten years ... *sigh*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Calling with the Deacons

A few weeks back, I got a call from the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric of our ward. I answered the phone with some trepidation, expecting that I was about to be asked to give a talk during sacrament meeting. Instead and worse, he asked if he could stop by the house to visit with me for a minute. At that moment, I knew with 99% confidence that I was going to receive a new calling.

Judging by the fact that it was the 2nd counselor who was coming to visit with me, I could assume it was going to be a calling in the Primary or something else in the Young Men's organization. I also knew that they were in the process of finding a new Ward Mission Leader, and that was the only reason I could think of for why they would move me out of the Teachers Quorum, where I was finally settled and was planning to re-kickstart the Duty to God program among the boys. Bottom line, I was NOT ready to be moved as I felt my work was not yet done there.

Even so, he showed up and eventually asked me to be the Assistant Scoutmaster and the Assistant Deacons Quorum Advisor. I was stunned, mostly because I had no initial expectation that I'd be moved out of the Teachers Quorum. Frankly, though, I was mostly relieved that I wasn't going to be called as the new Ward Mission Leader.

The other day, my wife suggested that my time with the Teachers Quorum, abbreviated as it was, was really a time for me to get "trained" in the Young Men's program in preparation for this new calling. I can always count on her to think of these things. The Teachers Quorum was a delightful place to be and I felt comfortable there, so it makes perfect sense that I couldn't stay there for long. As it is, I do now feel quite prepared to be with the Deacons Quorum, a feeling I know I wouldn't have if I hadn't first spent a year with the Teachers.

The two men I'm working with, the Scoutmaster (who is mostly responsible for the scouting side of the boy's activities) and the 2nd Counselor to the Young Men's (who is mostly responsible for the Sunday/religious side of the boy's activities), are wonderful men that I consider to be good friends. I'm looking forward to working with them, and I understand very clearly how I can help them: I'm an organizer by nature and can help them plan to get these boys moving forward with their scouting, and, having had experience with the Teachers with regards to the Duty to God program, I can help get that moving, too.

My oldest son will be joining the quorum very soon, and it will be good to have a direct hand in what he does once he gets there. I also look forward to the regular campouts that we will be having; camping is something I greatly enjoy and I know the boys love it, too.

It was very strange, though, on Sunday, when I went to the Deacons Quorum for the first time. I was struck by just how little the boys are compared to the Teachers. Most of the Teachers in my old quorum are taller than me, so looking down to these boys was just plain weird. My wife reminded me that most of the boys just turned 12 and will likely sprout up in the next few years while under my care. Even so, it was still very strange to me.

It was also very strange to stand in front of them and attempt to have a serious discussion. They are prone to interrupting, silliness, and random expressions of thought, and few, if any, of them have filters between their brains and their tongues. I was able to find out where they are in scouting, and I'd consider most of them to be "behind", and, as far as I can tell, none of them have done anything with Duty to God.

*sigh* There's a lot of work to do ...

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Birthday!

Today is my birthday and I have now officially entered my early late thirties! It's a terrible thing, I know, but, despite my best wishes, I can't seem to slow time down. Even so, I'm grateful to still be marking the passage of time.

I also happened to have the day off from work, as it is my regular Friday off. It's been a good day, and I had a decent list of things I wanted to do. For the run-down, this is what we've done:
  • Woke up late (well, all the way until 8:15!).
  • Went to Chick-Fil-A for a free breakfast sausage biscuit for breakfast (a few shopping errands followed).
  • Opened presents (a few great movies, a book from my parents, and a bag of peanut butter M&Ms -- awesome!)
  • Played Super Mario Brothers 3 on the Wii while the kids watched the old-school game play and proclaimed they could do SO much better than me (as if).
  • Had delicious homemade hamburgers (thanks, wife!) for lunch, with an amazing Asian cole slaw (double thanks, wife!) and some melon.
  • Went to Captain America with the wife (I quite enjoyed it, but felt the ending was a little soft).
  • Played Jungle Uno and Sorry Spin with the kids.
  • Went to Claim Jumper for an amazing dinner (the Grilled Cob Sandwich with the Spicy Peanut Thai Slaw on the side - wow!).
  • Had cake at home with the family.
  • Watched the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with the two older kids.
So, it's been a strange day full of food, media, and family. It's been very restful, and I feel very blessed! Happy birthday to me!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Movie Smackdowns

So in this past week, I've managed to watch most of four movies, an unprecedented feat that is even more astonishing given the craziness of my family's summer so far. The movies were each pretty good in their own way, but I had thoughts about which were the better movies in the two pairs I watched. One pair was a set of "kids" shows. The other was more PG-13 fare. So, a quick rundown, then the smackdown.
  • The Lion King: Yeah, I know it's an old movie (we have it on VHS!), but my kids hadn't seen it in a very long time and most certainly didn't remember it. This is still one of Disney's finest cartoons of that era, and the children were entranced. I put it on just to listen to the opening sequence to test the surround sound connection to our VCR. One by one, the kids came over and sat down and didn't move. This, of course, had a stellar message about taking responsibility.
  • Rango: Okay, this one was a PG movie that had a lot of buzz. I'd been told it was weird, but, wow, was it weird. I wouldn't have actually rated this as PG, either, because of all the swearing that's in the movie, all of which could have been left out. Clearly in PG-13 territory, the kids were complaining about the swearing and it frightened my youngest son in all the wrong places. Yeah, it was weird. I did appreciate the messages it was conveying, especially the one about how you are what you choose to be.
Smackdown result between these two movies? Clearly, The Lion King wins. Rango was too inappropriate for very young children.

Okay, so the next set:
  • Source Code: I had heard lots of great things about this movie, so we got it from Netflix and watched it in one sitting (that's a feat for my wife and I). We enjoyed piecing the puzzle together through to the very end. I won't spoil it here, but I thought the ending was satisfying.
  • The Adjustment Bureau: I hadn't heard very much about this movie, but Netflix suggested it as a good choice. After reading about it and watching a little video online that showed how they constructed one of the "doors" scenes, I was intrigued. My wife was completely clueless about the movie, but we were enthralled from the first scene. It was a great movie, with interesting theological suggestions, and had a satisfying ending.
Smackdown results? I think The Adjustment Bureau wins. While Source Code had a stronger and more emotionally fulfilling ending, I have to fault that movie for being derivative. My wife and I are well-schooled in alternate realities and diverging timelines thanks to our passion for nearly all things Star Trek, so we weren't wowed by the big reveal at the end. The Adjustment Bureau, on the other hand, posed some very fascinating questions about the nature of free will, God's (oh, excuse me, The Chairman's) divine plan for humanity, and how unrestrained freedom can run amok to cause so much trouble. Wrap this up with a solid romantic plotline and both my wife and I were satisfied with the results.

Okay, so, with this smackdown, a few recommendations:
  • Re-watch The Lion King. It's just good-hearted fun.
  • Watch Rango ... once. But only if you have nothing else to do.
  • Watch Source Code.
  • Definitely watch The Adjustment Bureau.
Ah, summertime ... Who knew I'd have time to actually watch these many movies, let alone construct this blog post about them? (And, please, please, don't remind me of any of the million other things I should have been doing instead ...)

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