Children

Children: (n) plural form of child.

Four sons were brought into this world by my sexual cooperation. In other words, I’m their dad.

Three other young gentlemen arrived on my doorstep because they were no longer safe and sound in their home environment.

As I look back on it, I must be truthful–because I’m a writer, a vagabond, a searcher and a proclaimer, I may not have been the best choice of a man to have
children. Fortunately for me, my offspring generally disagree.

My approach with children was really simple: I have a life. It is my time to have a life. You are welcome to come along if you don’t complain too much.

They quickly became convinced that their dad was cool, because he wasn’t like other dads. Of course, when they came into their teen years, they became critical of me not being like other dads. The charm of my uniqueness had worn off.

Children exist for two reasons:

  1. To remind us how bratty human beings really are.
  2. To give us a chance through instruction, love and tenderness to make a better generation.

I cuddled with my children but I never coddled them.

I loved them but I avoided getting lovey-dovey.

I gave to them, but never gave into their demands.

I respected them as long as they respected themselves.

I laughed with them as long as they realized there was a season to weep.

And when it was time for them to move on, I granted them the autonomy to be themselves without feeling loaded down with ancient family history.

The Good Book says we are the children of God. It’s very true–because after all, we are a bratty group which needs discipline, but still possesses the potential of bringing new hope for a new generation.

 

 

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Childlike

Childlike: (adj) of an adult, having good qualities associated with a child.

After avoiding it for decades, I finally went to one of my high school reunion luncheons, to meet up with the old gang, whom I had not seen since I held diploma in my hand and dreams fluttered in my brain like butterflies.

We were older.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that deems aging as either a crime or a disease rather than a natural situation which is meant to garner advantage.

What is the advantage of being older? You have sorted through the younger things to do and eliminated the ones that cause humiliation and disease.

That’s pretty powerful.

But what I discovered when I sat down to eat my lunch was that my classmates from a former time were very concerned about their health–cholesterol, salt intake, circulatory system and bladder. I probably should also throw in a few mentions of bowel movements.

It started off well, but when I ended up being glib and funny instead of decrepit and dying, a resentment settled into the room.

I think my friends found me childish. “That guy never grew up. Doesn’t he know there’s a certain protocol for being our age?”

I kept talking about the things I was still doing, the places I wanted to go, the things I was seeing, the passages I was writing and the songs being composed. I was not bragging. I was thrilled to be alive, to share with these old haunts.

Try as I would, the conversation was incapable of reaching the level of being childlike. I brought up some of our former escapades, only to discover that rather than giggling over the incidents, heads were dipped in shame.

I don’t know much about heaven. Nobody does. It is an advertised hot spot without an adequate brochure.

But from what I have learned, it will be a mind trip into discovering the joys of being childlike, simple, joyous, playful and jubilant.

I sure hope we’re up for it.

 

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Chilblain

Chilblain: (n) a painful, itching swelling on the skin, typically on a hand or foot, caused by poor circulation in the skin when exposed to cold.

A series of the number 24:

I was 24 years old.

It was 24 miles.

It was 24 degrees.

And I had been up for 24 hours.

I was desperately trying to start a music group that possessed enough solvency that the aggravated adults around me would stop bitching about my lack of a job.

I was failing.

Every time I got twelve dollars at a coffeehouse gig, I had fifteen dollars of bills.

I also had begun a family–mainly because my wife and I had not yet figured out the intricacies of birth control. Delaying this education led to two very quick
pregnancies.

I had not been home for five days, and even though there was a blizzard going on, I decided to take my old beat-up 1958 Chevy, with bald tires, and drive the 24 miles from Westerville, Ohio, to Centerburg, my home.

As I drove north, the weather got worse and I couldn’t see the road, which had disappeared under a blanket of white-carpeting ice.

Suddenly I felt a pain in my chest, then in my head, an itching in my leg (could have been a chilblain, right?) and the deep abiding notion that I was in trouble. Yes, I was only 24 years old, but thought I was having a heart attack, a stroke and a physical collapse, all at the same moment.

There was no place to stop, no houses to drive up to, seeking help–just more road and more and more snow bullets bouncing off my windshield.

I was scared.

I didn’t want to die.

I felt I was conjuring many of the symptoms due to my fatigue, loneliness and apprehension. Still, that didn’t make them go away.

As if on cue, the heater in my car, which had been offering some comfort, stopped working. Now all it was doing was blowing cold air on my frigid body.

Was I going to succumb on the 3-C Highway somewhere between Westerville and Centerburg, to be discovered tomorrow by a snow plow driver?

At that point, I did something I have done thousands of time since. I talked to myself.

“Buck up. If you’re gonna die, make it overtake you. Don’t give into it. Keep your eyes on the road. Be grateful that nobody else is traveling, so you can swerve around a little bit. And get yourself home.”

When I finished my little speech–my soliloquy, if you will–I immediately felt better.

I had calmed the storm in my own soul.

I had rested my own anxieties by admitting I was scared shitless.

A half hour later I pulled up in front of our old apartment, cautiously inched my way up the stairs, took off my clothes and climbed into bed with my wife, who had not seem me for some time.

I was so grateful.

Even my chilblain was gone.

I was humbled.

I never want to forget that sensation.

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Chihuahua

Chihuahua: (n) a small dog of a smooth-haired, large-eyed breed originating in Mexico

I will not bore you with the standard patter about how tiny and stupid looking Chihuahuas are. This has been long established by many writers preceding me.

The creature is obviously a rat that was exposed to radiation–perhaps near Los Alamos–grew in size and lost its hair. I am completely
satisfied with this explanation.

Today I would like to focus on the bark. Pardon me. It is not worthy of being called a “bark.”

  • It is a yap.
  • A yippity.
  • A yonk-yonk.
  • A vocal snap.
  • A sound conceived in the depths of hell by a satanic cherub who was trying to get people to hate dogs.

I don’t know if there’s anything more aggravating than walking through a store and coming upon some hapless soul holding one of these creatures, and being yapped at for fifteen or twenty seconds, as the owner pretends he or she has control.

Comical as it may seem–the dog thinking it has any dominion–it is still annoying that such a pretentious piece of animal flesh thinks it has any purpose or right to spark out its opinions.

If they were pleasant dogs, you could associate the word “cute” with them. When you came upon their tiny frames, you could say, “Isn’t it cute?” and it would look up at you with its little doggy mouth and oversized eyes, moist with affection.

But not the chihuahua.

It literally is a large rat on speed.

It has a bad attitude, it tries to overcompensate for its size by being obnoxious, and if I lived in Mexico in the State of Chihuahua, I would demand that they rename the dog.

As you can probably tell, I have never owned a Chihuahua.

But I will confess that I have considered accidentally letting a few of them out in traffic.

 

 

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Chief

Chief: (n) a leader or ruler of a people or clan.

I’m about to date myself. (I sure hope I bring me flowers…)

What I mean is, I’m going to make reference to something–and anyone born after the millennium will have no idea what I’m talking about.

Long, long ago on a planet not so far away, there was a T.V. show called Superman. Yes, the Superman we’re all familiar with.

But this was low-budget, shot in black and white, with a Superman who had to hold his stomach in a lot.

The editor of the newspaper, you may remember, was Perry White. He was constantly plagued by a young cub reporter named Jimmy Olson. (Now, if you remember any of this, you’re either a big superhero geek, or you’ve just been dated, too.)

Jimmy Olson aggravated Perry White by calling him “Chief.” Perry White would bark at him, “Don’t call me Chief!”

It was a bit of comic relief in a show that needed some relief from somewhere.

But as I think about it today, we may desperately be in need of people who don’t want to be called “chief.” We come up with all sorts of synonyms and titles for jobs that make individuals feel they are important and powerful. We seem obsessed with the notion that even though we’re human, somehow or another–at least occasionally–we’re omnipotent.

We want to dominate. We want to control. We want to be respected, revered and maybe even feared.

We’ve lost the awareness that power merely brings responsibility. Somehow or another, we think being called “chief” requires less of us instead of more. I don’t know how we arrived at this–I guess it’s the notion that if we can order underlings around, we need never do anything ourselves, because even if they fail, we have someone to blame.

In the process, we’ve lost a valuable piece of humanity: the desire to serve.

You see, if we serve, that would make us “servers,” which means we’re hustling for tips instead of owning the restaurant.

Somewhere along the line, we need to sprout a new crop of leaders who have gained their prowess by learning how to be of service to others.

Otherwise we will continue to have ignorant chiefs who don’t understand the product, but are in charge of the board meeting.

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Chide

Chide: (v) to scold or rebuke

Some of the more painful moments in life are when we experience disappointment or defeat–and after the sting of the failure is dying down–the chiders show up.

They have three distinct approaches that really do stink:

  1. “I had a feeling this wouldn’t work.”

It’s usually not a feeling they shared with you–and certainly not based on any sentiments they previously expressed. No, after the fact they create new facts.

  1. “I’m disappointed in you.”

Oh, I see. It’s not enough that life has slapped me in the face. You have brought fresh salt for the wound. It doesn’t even matter if I’m impressed enough by you to be hurt by your disappointment. Disappointment is often the straw that kills many a camel.

  1. “If it were me…”

Yes, folks who have all the facts available to them have now seen the outcome and understand the complete situation, but relentlessly explain how they would have done things just right.

We talk about love all the time. It’s a good thing.

We talk about kindness. Certainly valuable.

But the greatest gift a human being can offer is mercy.

Since life has kicked you in the teeth, I promise not to remind you of the high cost of dental bills.

A great man once said that merciful people are happy because they have the confidence that the mercy they express will be given back to them.

Because most certainly, each one of us takes our turn at being the fool.

So to withhold chiding is opening the door to grace–which can cover a multitude of our deluded efforts.

 

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Chickpea

Chickpea: (n) a round yellowish seed, used widely as food.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that garbanzo beans were also known as chickpeas.

For years, when I traveled with my friends, had brief attempts at weight loss and hovered over salad bars, I wondered if the garbanzo beans
were calorically low enough to be included in my pile of greenery and anemic salad dressing.

One day I asked the waitress at the local Ruby Tuesday’s in Alabama if they had garbanzo beans. She stared at me as if I were a Yankee who had come to ransack her plantation.

“What’s that?” she said in utter disgust.

So I described it, as much as one can manage wording to verbally recreate a non-descript object.

She replied, “You mean chickpeas?”

At this point, I was trying to be patient. I am fully aware that people from the Southern part of our great nation often have different names for things–usually with a country tinge to them.

“Chickpeas?” I questioned. “I’ve never heard them called that.”

As we were conversing, a lovely woman, gracious and well-spoken, came up and added, “Both names are correct.”

She had an English accent.

I was aggravated. I thought I had a young southern girl trapped in a language faux pas–and then this agent straight from the throne of the King’s English steps over to thwart my enthusiasm.

“See, I told ya’,” drawled the girl, strolling away.

I glanced over at the dignified Englishwoman and said, with great conviction, “I will always be a garbanzo man.”

 

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