Decency

Decency: (adj) conformity to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc.

A young man who I sheltered and loved in my household when he was abandoned by his father asked me a question.

“What was your upbringing like?”

Well, candidly, I have written so much on that issue over the years—and you dear souls who have read me could probably write my biography without too much difficulty—that I wouldn’t know exactly how to direct a simple answer toward this beloved human of my acquaintance.

But I do think it revolves around the word “decency.”

I think my parents, for the era in which they operated, were average, except they had too many kids. If they had stayed with two or maybe three, they might have had the stamina to remain involved and finish the race with a bit of flair.

But my parents had five sons.

My dad was fifty-eight years old when I turned ten.

And I’m not talking about a young, vibrant, television-star fifty-eight. I’m speaking of a cigarette-smoking-never-getting-enough-exercise, wouldn’t-eat-a-vegetable-if-you-shoved-it-down-his-throat and somewhat cranky fifty-eight-year-old.

I was son number four, and by the time I arrived my parents were just exhausted with the fruit coming out of their relationship, which they were finding difficult to bear.

So not knowing what to do, they did exactly what human beings pursue: the wrong thing.

Sometimes it was just too much.

Most times it was absent.

And then suddenly it would appear out of nowhere and seem phony.

Decency is difficult because it requires our full attention. The first time we do something indecent, we need to quickly confess and repent—or our hypocrisy will sully all future events.

So here’s what I would tell the dear fellow who asked me about my upbringing:

It was decent, considering the fact that it possessed neither passion nor decency.

 

Dasher

Dasher: (n) one of Santa Claus’s reindeer.

What’s the story behind the story?

Maybe that’s something that qualifies you to be a writer—or at least gets you considered:  being inquisitive.

Of course, there is such a thing as being nosy. I guess the difference is whether other people end up being interested in what you’re curious about, or everyone involved just found you intrusive.

Have you ever wondered what the story is behind Dasher and Dancer?

I assume they were related.

  • Two brothers?
  • Two sisters?
  • Brother and sister?

If I were a female reindeer, would I mind being named Dasher? And if I were a male, could I live with Dancer?

I’m guessing two sisters.

And sometime after their birth, Mama Reindeer noticed that one of the little girls was really coordinated and appeared to be a great dancer. It was obvious that this young reindeer had a future.

She could move her paws without pause.

Mama Reindeer (and probably Papa, too) praised her for her ability—which left her sister without a true identity.

Because I am sure that Dancer is not actually the reindeer’s name. Probably Henrietta. Dancer is what she could do and therefore, who she became.

And her sister—shall we guess Beatrice?—did not want them to be known forever as “Beatrice along with Dancer”. You see the problem.

Beatrice tried to be open-minded, kind and unaffected about all the attention that Dancer was getting, but there was no doubt.

She was jealous.

This is the problem with having two daughters and one is able to dance and the other…well, she could probably end up just being a choreographer.

So Mother and Father Reindeer got together and mulled over what they should do. They did not want to take away the name Dancer from their young hoofer, but Beatrice certainly needed a more common name. Something to grab on to. A promotion-handle, as it were.

One day, they were watching their young deer at play and Papa Reindeer said:

“She runs real good.”

“Who?” asked Mama.

“Beatrice,” replied Papa.

Mama Reindeer watched for a spell. She wasn’t positive that her young daughter was actually speedy. But it sure would be convenient to convince her she was.

“I think I’ve got it!” said Papa Reindeer.

“We shall call her Dasher.”

Beatrice immediately loved the name. Fortunately, her sister, Dancer, was not envious. So Dasher and Dancer began their careers—one fast, one coordinated.

It also made for a great pairing, to begin a famous song.

Unfortunately for Dasher and Dancer, the tune ended up being about Rudolph–whose red nose was just too amazing not to advertise.

 

Crib

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crib: (n) a child’s bed with enclosed sides.

For those aggravated souls who believe that life has no sensibility or purpose, I would have to offer the example of babies.

Just simply consider what it would be like if newborns came out talking.

As horrible as it may be to hear them cry, their needs are so easily achieved that the possibility of going back to sleep actually exists.

On the other hand, if you were walking up to the crib and hearing your new son or daughter explain to you in vivid detail their level of discomfort, along with a lamentation about how little you care because of how long it took for you to get there—well, that would be absolutely insane.

Certainly there would be more crib death.

Fortunately, they learn to poop, eat, crawl, stand, walk—and then talk.

It is so beautiful—because by the time they talk and start becoming demanding, you can look at them and say:

“Go get it yourself.”

 


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Clampdown

Clampdown: (n) a severe or concerted attempt to suppress something.

I was a parent to six sons.

Three of them were my biological offspring, and for the other three, I was more or less a godfather (minus kissing the ring and slaughtering
my enemies).

Different experiences bring different quality. As a parent, you would love to pass on that sage wisdom to your children. It’s not really an issue of morality–it’s just that certain activities suck up more time, energy, heart and soul.

In other words, in the long run, they’re just not worth the payoff. For that reason, they’re rather obvious–but not to a fifteen year old kid.

  • Smoking looks cool until you start coughing.
  • Drinking may seem sophisticated until you vomit on your favorite pants.
  • Multiple sex partners almost seem ordained until your crotch starts to itch and you need a shot of penicillin.

So how is it possible to pass on to the growing organisms in your household how to avoid the stupidity of certain activities which not only fail to deliver in ultimate satisfaction, but certainly can be dangerous?

After conversations, pleadings and reasoning comes the possibility of clamping down.

Since your children will not remove themselves from temptation, you make a vain effort to take temptation far away from them. Of course, historically this only increases the fervent interest of the hapless adolescent.

I never drank, I never smoked, I never looked at a snapshot of porn–but all of my children, to some degree, have investigated these vices as if communing with a vicar.

I wish I could tell you that clamping down is an effective means of eliminating foolishness. But since being a fool is in the storehouse of every human being, whether we like it or not, he or she will probably pull it out at one time or another–and give it a spin.

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Chock-full

Chock-full: (adj) filled to overflowing

I ended up being a father to many sons. This doesn’t qualify me as an expert, but eventually it rescued me from the dangerous status of novice.

You can always pick out a newbie in the realm of parenting. Mother and father are always overly concerned about how the little one is
thinking or feeling.

Realize this: they haven’t lived long enough to create stable emotions. They drift from one shoreline of expression to another without any sense of meaning, trying to convince you that they are permanently scarred by the most recent disciplinary action.

Often, it was my job to take these children on trips–long ones, at that.

After surviving one car tour from hell, I realized that the key to a pleasant experience with children in a car is to either drug them with cough syrup, so they sleep (which I unfortunately found out was illegal) or chock-full the trip with a whole series of activities which wear them out, causing them to beg for a nap.

Once asleep, children in a car are unlikely to awaken for many hours. Matter of fact, you probably will have arrived at your motel, unpacked your suitcase, turned on the television set before it becomes necessary to carry them in.

If you wait too long, children will tell you they’re bored. At that point, you are at the mercy of their mood.

But if you plan activities, games, music, a stop at a rest area to investigate the squirrel in the tree on the left, creating an agenda chock-full of exhausting possibilities, you will be able to enjoy at least half of your journey with them lying in the back seat–nearly comatose.

 

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Brat

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brat: (n) a child, typically a badly behaved one

A brat is a child who has lazy parents.

There may be physiological or psychological reasons which cause a young person to be socially unacceptable, but those are rare.Dictionary B

A brat is just a child who has found out how far his parents will go before they surrender.

First of all you have to understand parenting. It is the narrow isthmus of thought existing between the mindset of Mother Theresa and the Marquis de Sade.

For if you’re too generous, your children will hug you–but then strangle you with their aberrant behavior.

If you’re too mean, they will end up in therapy, describing your atrocities to a roomful of astonished therapists.

It is truly a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario–where sometimes you must play the bad guy to actually be the good guy.

For a necessary “no” that slip-slides away into a greasy “yes” is what causes little ones to believe the world was created for their whim.

It is time for all good parents to be willing to be considered temporarily insane by their grumbling offspring so that these children can emerge from their “salad days” to be something better than our politicians.

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Bothersome

Bothersome: (adj) troublesome

When I was eighteen years old, I got my girlfriend pregnant. So by the time I was nineteen, I was a daddy. Perhaps better stated, a father in name only.Dictionary B

Being unprepared, unaware and barely beyond the scope of a child myself, I had no idea what to do. Matter of fact, from the time I was nineteen until I turned fifty-six, I parented seven young men–four of my own and three I adopted.

Can I tell you how I would describe the experience?

Bothersome.

Why?

Because children do not come into the world to confirm our intelligence and prowess, but rather, to challenge it.

Yet anyone who questions my personal authority and space is annoying. If they happen to live in my house, eat the food I provide and nag me for money, it is even more treacherous.

But in the process of realizing that parenting is bothersome, you come to an understanding that living is not about finding a sense of well-being, but instead, taking the chaos, calming yourself and stilling the storm.

In doing this, you find your sense of satisfaction, purpose and achievement.

Life always arrives at eighty-five miles an hour.

It is up to you to be the traffic cop to slow it down.

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Bite

Bite: (v) to use the teeth to cut into something

For the solace, comfort and sanity of all humankind, it is very important that we understand that no one is naturally good at parenting.Dictionary B

There are no books you can read which will add any permanent sense of well-being to the practice, but instead, offer divergent theories which may work for a time, and then fall into piles of ridiculous.

I had children. (I still have them–they’re just not quite as childish as they used to be.)

I remember when my two oldest were at their youngest, and only a year-and-a-half apart. The older one decided he liked to bite his little brother.

We explained to him that this was not good etiquette.

We shared how much his bites were painful to his little brother.

With his four-year-old face, he listened intently, only to turn around ten minutes later and go on a “chomp fit.”

I was at a loss.

Finally one day, immediately after he had inflicted a fresh wound on his sibling, I leaned over, grabbed his chubby leg, and bit into his fatty tissue.

He screamed out in pain and continued to holler for about ten more minutes.

After he calmed down, I came very close to his face with mine, and said, “That’s what it feels like when you bite someone.”

Even though for a season he was a little afraid to be around me for fear that I had taken up full-fledged cannibalism, he never bit his brother again.

You see, there was a time in our country when we evaluated the power of a solution by whether it worked. Now we consider if such actions are proper, appropriate, bullying or will leave a lasting neurosis.

Too bad.

Because my solution for having a son who liked to bite was convincing him, through my actions, that he had bitten off more than he could chew.

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Bishop

Bishop: (n) a senior member of the Christian clergy

Dictionary B Fathering six sons, I was always torn, trying to discover what profile was best for their well-being.

After all, being a parent is not strutting your stuff in front of fellow-parents, but instead, doing as little as possible to gain as much as possible, while allowing your children the freedom to experiment without killing themselves.

As awkward as the previous sentence may seem, the process has an even greater clumsiness.

Three words:

  • Guide
  • Lead
  • Control

In many ways, the same thing is true in discovering the purpose of leadership in a church–taking the title of Bishop and finding the correct balance for “bishoping.”

After all, guiding is setting a course for your own life and allowing the sweet aura of joy and peace that surrounds your efforts to draw others in the direction of your belief and pursuit.

Leading is when you motion to them to follow your aspirations and adhere to your principles.

Controlling is when you remove part of their freewill because you fear that their choices will lead them astray.

If the wrong decision is made, you can translate what was meant to be holy into something that is wholly unacceptable.

We guide by doing more than by talking.

We lead by talking without demanding.

And we control by demanding and enforcing.

Sooner or later, the bishops of the church will have to trust the congregation to pursue the path of goodness by choice instead of intimidation.

It will be a frightening process, speckled with error from misguided trial, but still will end up producing the true fruit of the spirit instead of forced compliance to the rigid law.

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Beyond

Beyond: (prep) to the further side of.

Dictionary B

I find myself taking some time off from touring to visit family.

I am told that this is meant to be a pleasant excursion, and there are pleasurable interludes within the available experience.

But I think America’s obsession with family is a ploy to avoid dealing with the world as our brothers and sisters, attempting to limit life to a much smaller Christmas list.

When I arrived in town, I curtailed my expectation–knowing that my children are all grown, have lives of their own, and are not constantly wondering what I might be feeling or thinking about any given situation.

I used to be Lord of the Manor, and now I am basically the gardener.

It’s not really a demotion–just an honorary position given to the retiring parent who is still permitted to be the groundskeeper.

So I’ve spent the week thinking about the word “beyond.”

  • What is beyond my scope?
  • What is beyond my ability?
  • What is beyond my interest?
  • What is beyond my business?

It is a fascinating series of questions which avail me of great understanding–as long as I don’t accidentally become too introspective or trip over my pouty lip.

The best thing to do as you get older is focus on your own life and let your children do the same. Every once in a while, they’ll pull out a photo album, remember a former time, become nostalgic and call you on the phone.

The key is to make sure you’re available.

Beyond that is beyond reason.

 

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