Heading North

My family and I are heading for the high country next weekend (also known as Northern Michigan).  We will be hauling our pop-up camper on this vacation trip to “God’s country”.  Of course, just mentioning our camper brings to mind some other camping stories that you really should catch up on (just type “camping” in the Search box and you’ll find them).

Those memories aside, this trip will be really unique.  We’ll be camping at a campground just outside of Mackinaw City–where the Mackinac Bridge is–on the Lake Huron side of the Straits with our campsite being in the midst of some trees right on the shoreline!  (To catch up on the importance of this, read my other entries about Mackinaw City–especially regarding fireworks!)

This kind of a trip also reminds me of the many trips my family would make to our family cabin up that way (again, great stories to read if you type “Paradise Lake”, “Carp Lake” or “cabin” in the Search box).  That’s really where it all started for me, and it helps to explain why Northern Michigan plays such an important role in my life.

So read up on some of these, my friend, and join me next time as I report “live” from the beautiful Straits area of Mackinac in Northern Michigan!

To Spank Or Not To Spank

The second spanking recollection I have is actually two different occurrences, both having the same behavior on my part but resulting in two very different outcomes.

Once again, both of us were in trouble for some heinous crime we had conspired and embarked upon together (what exactly that was is beyond my ability to remember, probably due to parent-induced trauma).  As was Mom’s practice at the time, she would send us to our rooms (in this case, both of us in just one of the bedrooms) to “think about what we had done” and await our just punishment. Now, for some kids, that is nothing but a joke (“Sure, Mom, I’ll think about what I’ve done” [That was awesome!].  “I feel horrible about that” [I can’t wait to try that again!!].)  For me, however, that was pure torture.  Sometimes it was five to ten minutes before we would see her, and that was plenty of time for me to cave from the pressure building due to the apprehension of what degree of pain to my rear was imminently in my very near future.  Now, it should be stated here that what she was doing was wise on her part.  It gave her time to cool down and respond to our so-called “bad behavior” correctly.  For us, however, it was like being put in a straight jacket while waiting for our execution.

So, there we were, waiting it out in one of our bedrooms while Mom got a chance to compose herself for who-knows-how-long.  When she finally came into the bedroom, she sat in a chair across the room from the bed we were both sitting on.  She calmly stated that when we were ready, we could walk over to where she was sitting, bend over and receive the two swats to the butt that we had been sentenced to.  I was the first to move (being the older and more responsible sibling, of course) and stopped about halfway across the room.  I stood there looking at her with my big brown puppy-dog eyes and asked in a cute little eight-year-old voice, “Is this going to hurt??”  She couldn’t help but break out in a heart-felt laugh and opened her arms wide for both of us to come over for a big hug.  We both ran into her arms and laughed, probably more out of relief than seeing any humor in it ourselves.  No pain was to be felt that day!

Well, some time later, we were in trouble again.  Same scenario:  We’re biding our time, sitting on the same bed; an empty chair sits across the room, waiting for The Executioner to show up (that chair may as well have been a guillotine with a glistening, razor-sharp blade hanging in the air above it).  Mom walked in the room and once again calmly sat in the chair, waiting for one of us to move.  I moved first (again) and got up from the bed, started across the room and stopped half way–just like I did before.  I looked at her with my puppy-dog eyes and once again repeated the question that worked so well last time (in the same cute voice as before, too), “Is this going to hurt??”

I was met with an icy stare.  Suddenly, that guillotine looked as big as ever.  I instantly knew that whatever pain I didn’t get last time would be more than made up for this time around.  My insides were already  telling me to make a run for it, but I knew that that would be a useless act of escape that would only serve to doom my rear to even more pain and suffering.

As you can see, I endured what I had coming to me that day.  And it taught me a valuable lesson:  never use the same ruse twice in a row.  It’ll backfire every time.

The Hazards Of Construction Work

My brother and I grew up in a household where my parents spanked us when we deserved it.  Now, I realize that spanking can be a touchy subject in some circles [Do you see it?  Read that again.], but for my brother and I, gettin’ a whoopin’ when we had one comin’ was one of the best things that could have happened to us as kids.  And it made for some interesting memories–two in particular.

The first occurred when we both decided to play “construction worker” and play with the cage door of the morning doves that my parents had in the house.  It was a pretty big cage for two morning doves and the door to it was actually the whole top of the cage.  It was hinged on the backside of the cage with a lockable latch on the front (no lock was on it, so who’s fault was it really??).  The cage was probably a good five feet high, so we got us a chair and our plastic hats–I think I even had some plastic tools and a tool belt that I wore–and we went to “work”.  It was amazing how fast that cage door had hydraulics installed and was operational within minutes.  It even opened all the way up!  How amazing is that?!  You could tell heavy-duty materials had been used in the impressively quick installation of this much-needed accessory to the door by how loud the sound effects were when the cage door raised and lowered itself.  It was so impressive that the two morning doves could only sit inside the cage on their perch in total astonishment and wrapt attention as the new hydraulic lift opened and closed their door….repeatedly.  Even though we had both been told never to play with the cage, we–and especially I–thought the improvements were very noteworthy.

My Dad did not.  Our rears attested to that fact.  But what makes this memory so memorable is that after we received the said disciplinary action from the foreman on the construction site (a.k.a. our Dad and a paddle in the living room), our parents took us both to go see the movie “Grease” at the drive-in, complete with popcorn from home!  Does that seem odd to you too?  Uh-huh…me, too.

I’ll tell you about the other one next time……

What The Bleep

Do you sometimes wonder how we as parents draw the line in what we allow our kids to say?  When you don’t use bad language and you don’t want your kids using it either, what should you allow?

Obviously, there are “safe” words that border on being downright stupid–the hyper-religious response to counteracting bad words that are used every day by many around us.  And then there are the slang words that have been used to substitute the “real thing” so often that you can now find them in the dictionary–words like “gosh”, “jeez” and “cripes”,  just to name a few (and I’m sure you can figure out what each one of those words really mean).

So at what point should this whole topic be categorized as “no big deal” in a parent’s mind?  And when does it become a big deal?  For the areas of this that are a concern, to what degree do you go?  When does it become a situation where you’ve begun to split hairs? All very good questions with no easy answers.  I mean, I love Jesus with all my heart; yet I find that there are still times that my kids do things that bring Bill Cosby’s response to mind.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about…..the situation where you mentally stop yourself from finishing the outburst:  “What the—-!!  Get your—-!!  I oughtta—!!  Get outta my face!!”  It doesn’t get that far with me, but sometimes it’s tempting….

I can tell you this much:  I definitely see the benefit of talking it out with others, especially your spouse.  We don’t necessarily agree on everything concerning the whole topic, but I’ve already seen it help tremendously just talking it out and walking through that process together.  We still don’t have all the answers to those questions, but even that’s part of the adventure, isn’t it?  Eventually, the answers will surface.  And with God’s help through it all anyway, we’ll definitely get the answers we need.

In the meantime, what do you think about calling someone a fartknocker?