“Don’t Eat My Family”

Here is Ikash, who was a teenager when he was the protagonist of my novel The Strange Land. Now he is a husband and father, and he is doing what husbands and fathers do … trying to protect his family from the scary things in the world. (Of course Hyuna could help with this too, but as you can see, she recently had a baby, so she needs him to do the heavy lifting.)

This exact scene does not happen in my third book (at least not yet!), but it does illustrate his basic stance throughout that novel.

The black and white drawing did not scan great … a lot of detail was lost … but I needed something to post.

Are you perhaps feeling like this right now?

Raised by the Dictionary

[Five-year-old] Thomas sat on the dusty brown carpet between his two brothers with a well-worn dictionary in his lap. He kept it with him when he watched TV in case he came across a new word.

“What is it Mom and Dad do with these people?” he asked.

[Thomas’s brother] Henry stared at the TV and pushed the buttons on the remote. “Exorcisms,” he said.

“Exorcisms,” Thomas thought out loud as he flipped through his dictionary. “How do you spell that?”

Henry smiled derisively. “X-O-R-S-I-S-U-M-S.”

Thomas raised a skeptical eyebrow and flipped to the “E” section.

The next half hour passed quickly as he read about existence, existentialism, exit permits, exorcism, exoskeletons, and exotic dancers.

–The Resolve of Immortal Flesh, by Rich Colburn, p. 13

Dad of the Year

“Mississippi family of four miraculously survive tornado inside concrete room”

This man, his wife, their 2-year-old and their 6-month-old baby survived a tornado that took their entire house … except the concrete room where they were sheltering … which room they had recently bought the house for.

They had been in the house with the safe room mere weeks.

The dad had been in the safe room 20 seconds before the tornado hit.

“I’m just going to let the insurance handle it and trust in the good Lord,” says Andrew Philips.

You may be a prepper, but you’ll never be a prepper like this guy.

“Book, Don’t Fail Me Now”

The following is a poem by Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet. Bradstreet was a poet and a mom. This poem compares publishing a book to sending your child out into the world: you dress the kid as best you can, attempt to wipe his or her face, and just pray that he or she doesn’t embarrass you out there.

I was introduced to this poem in an American Lit class in college, and even then I thought it was clever. At the time, of course, I had no children and had not published anything.

In the years since, I’ve thought of this poem once or twice whenever I do manage to publish something and find that it can look very different staring up at you from a newspaper than it looked on my laptop. Truly, works of literature, like children, when we turn them loose on the world do not always behave the way we hoped they would.

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,

Who after birth didst by my side remain,

Till snatched from thence by friends less wise than true,

Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view,

Made thee in raggs, halting to th’press to trudge,

Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).

At thy return my blushing was not small,

My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,

I cast thee by as one unfit for light,

Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;

Yet being mine own, at length affection would

Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:

I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,

And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.

I stretched thy joynts to make thee even feet,

Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;

In better dress to trim thee was my mind,

But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’ th’ house I find.

In this array ‘mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.

In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;

And take thy way where yet thou art not known,

If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none:

And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,

Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

The Author to Her Book, by Anne Bradstreet, via poetryfoundation.org

Precious Ramotswe … Eats Her Children’s Food

… food prepared for children was almost always tastier than the food cooked for oneself. It simply was. How many parents, then, found themselves hovering over their children’s plates, ready to swoop on any surplus or rejected morsel or, worse still, ready to sneak something off the plate while the child was looking in the other direction, or arguing with a brother or sister, or possibly having a tantrum. The closing of the eyes that went with a tantrum could be especially useful in this respect; when the child came to his or her senses, the quantity on the plate may have been significantly reduced, thus providing the child who noticed it with a sharp lesson in the consequences of bad behaviour. Make a fuss, and your food will be eaten by somebody else: a sound proposition that Mma Ramotswe believed could be applied with equal force to many other situations.

To the Land of Long Lost Friends, by Alexander McCall Smith, p. 137

Quote from the book How to Really Love Your Child

Photo by Hannah Nelson on Pexels.com

Believe it or not, many children are congenitally resistant to the natural ways of giving affection and love. They resist eye contact, they do not want to be touched, and they do not care for focused attention. … Many parents eventually resign themselves to what they conclude is “what the child wants.” This is a disastrous mistake. Even the extremely resistant child needs everything we have talked about concerning unconditional love. However, since he is uncomfortable accepting it, we parents must gradually teach this child to receive love comfortably.

[W]hen a child finds something to be quite humorous … parents have the opportunity to make eye contact, physical contact, and focused attention while commenting on the humorous subject. Parents must usually be quick in doing this because the defenses of a truly resistant child are down only briefly. We’ve got to “get in and get out” or a child may defend against similar tactics in the future.

[W]hen a child has accomplished something for which he is justifiably proud … parents can make eye and physical contact (and focused attention if appropriate) while praising a child. Again, we must be careful not to overdo it, especially by prolonging it; “get in and get out.”

Dr. Ross Campbell, How to Really Love Your Child, 1977, pp. 119 – 120

Still Chewing on This One

So I watched this on Netflix a few weeks ago.

It’s a critically acclaimed, independent film, but that’s not why I watched it.

I watched it because I “ought” to, because it has so much in common with my second book. Rugged landscapes, desperate situations, father-son relationships, snow. Even bears.

It’s sort of in the survival genre (if that’s a genre?). You know, as in To Build a Fire, where the story shows just how quickly things can go wrong when you’re out in the wilderness.

And did I mention the sound track is amazing?

Anyway, it’s very well done, and I highly recommend it.

Quote About Love

Photo by Bruno Bueno on Pexels.com

Over the years I have asked audiences for a show of hands if they thought their parents loved them. Over 95 percent of the hands went up. It was never 100 percent but it was always a high percentage. Then I asked this question of those who had raised their hands — “Do you think that your parents expressed this love to you adequately?” Only half of the hands remained up. The third question was: “Of those of you who think your parents expressed their love for you adequately, could you have used an even greater expression of love?” All of the hands remained up.

Jim Wilson, How to be Free from Bitterness and Other Essays on Christian Relationships, Canon Press, 2007, p. 76

Being a Parent is All About Being Blamed …

… for things you can and can’t control.

Flu leaves a 4-year-old girl blind in Iowa”

What stands out to me in this article is the way the article will begin to approach blaming Jade’s mother for what happened, and then back away.

This little girl didn’t get the flu shot this year!

… But the family is not an anti-vaccination family.

But the flu shot can prevent complications like this from happening!

… But it’s only 40 – 60% effective at preventing the flu.

But you should always get flu shots for your kids!

… But this mother did get her kids flu shots, last March, and mistakenly believed they “were good for a whole year.”

But the flu changes every year!

… And this year was a very bad year for flu for kids, and the complication that happened to this little girl is vanishingly rare.

I understand that they are trying to make this article into a sort of public service announcement reminding parents to get flu shots and other vaccinations for their kids. And that kind of announcement is good. What’s not good is the implication that if you do everything right, you can prevent freak bad things from happening to your child. This is a very rare complication. It didn’t happen because this mom failed to get her kid a flu shot. It happened because we live in a fallen world. In this fallen world, freak bad things happen. People get sick. This is the definition of an imperfect world. This incident is more analogous to a plane falling on your head, than to failing adequately to provide for your child.

Every mom does this to herself, too, by the way. Jade’s mom says of the early days when her daughter had a mild fever,

“She was running around, having fun, eating normally, asking for snacks,” her mother remembers. “It was just — it’s a little bug, she’ll get over it.”

Phillips thinks back to those four days, December 19 through December 23, and wracks her brain for something that might have told her what was about to happen.”There wasn’t any sign that would’ve told me that something was seriously wrong with her,” she said.

Ibid

I once had a similar experience. My then 2-year-old got a fever. All he wanted to do was rest on me. I thought about taking him to the pediatrician, but I knew exactly what they would say. “If the fever hasn’t gone away in three days, call us again.”

On day 3, we had difficulty waking him. It was a Sunday (of course), so instead of the pediatrician, we took him to an urgent care clinic. The clinic said to take him to the ER.

He turned out to have a fairly advanced case of bacterial pneumonia.

He hadn’t even been coughing.

We ended up with a 2-day stay in the hospital and he was fine. But what if he hadn’t been? I’m sure I (and lots of other people) would have been asking, “How could I not have caught this?” But there was no way I could have. It just seemed like a normal fever.