Monday, April 11, 2005

Odds and Ends: Children Remind You What's Important

Well, first, hi speed went down for four unforgiving days. It sucked major pond scum. There are very few pages that load via dial up these days, particularly when the local access will only bring you 26k. Couldn't even read a site, much less post to it.

So, I'm back to continue on with the struggle against ennui and jaded punditry.

One thing about not having connection, it certainly made me change a few things. I did ALL my laundry, even the stuff I'd thrown downstairs and hadn't used in awhile. I've come to realize I still have too many clothes and need to go see some charitable insitute about donating.

Plus, packing on a few pounds requires some of the old clothes to be less than useful. Why do women keep clothes a size or two too small in their closet? We like to fool ourselves into thinking we will get back there again. Since I can't afford a personal trainer, they have to go (lest I fall into a deep depression when I see them).

I also spent the weekend watching movies (Dodge Ball: stupidest funny movie in awhile; Elektra: dark and brooking heroine, not bad, but glad I didn't pay to see it at the movies)and went to celebrate my brother's birthday. We played miniature golf and rode the go-karts. As we are a competitive family, it was quite interesting. My sister in law isn't quite as competitve so that's a good match for my brother. However, I keep him in shape and he barely won by a stroke on the golf course. If he hadn't spun me out on the race track, he would still have been eating my exhaust. We were so entertaining the go-kart operater asked us if we wanted to go a second time, for free. Unfortunately, it was beginning to rain and I was starving so we declined with a "than you anway".

When I got to their house, the kids all ran out and gave me a hug as if they hadn't seen me in a month even though I'd been there the weekend before. The youngest wrapped her arms around my legs and nearly made me fall over. They come out yelling, "Aunt Katty, Aunt Katty! Will you play with me?" or "You came over! Yeah!" as if it was a miracle that I made it.

It's great to see somebody is excited to see me.

We sat down to have dinner, we were all chatting when the food came out, loading up the plates and getting drinks, we started to dig in. Then one of the boys spoke up, "We forgot to say prayers."

Oops! "Yes, we did," I replied, "Who's going to say prayers this time?"

The youngest raised his hand, "Me, me, me!"

We all bowed our heads and he said a nice little prayer, thankful for the food and drink, help daddy get better (he had foot surgery), thankful to be together. Amen.

We started to dig in. The oldest, who is 12, sat there a minute and didn't raise his fork, I looked up to say something to him about eating, but he caught me off guard before I could admonish him, "Wait!"

Several people had mouthfuls or forks raised midway to their faces. Everybody paused in mid chew and lift, eyebrows raised.

"I was going to say the prayer."

He was a little frustrated, but I couldn't tell if it was just the sibling competition thing, so I replied, "That's okay. You're brother did a good job. You can say it next time."

"But," he sounded even more exasperated, "we forgot something."

"We did?" Food, prayer's for the injured and being together. I couldn't think what it was. "What did we forget?"

"I was going to say a prayer for the soldiers."

"Oh. You're right. Good catch. We can still say it." Everyone put down their forks, swallowed their food and bowed their heads. "Go ahead, bud."

He bowed his head and said, "Dear God, please take care of the soldiers, don't let them get hurt. Please take care of uncle L... and don't let him get hurt either. Amen."


Uncle L. is in the National Guard. We are still waiting to see if the rotation includes his unit any time soon. The boys have been very concerned about it and they see the news. They're old enough to understand a little of what's going on.

We also spend some time talking about the soldiers. Two weekends ago I had my computer over and was reading Black Five concerning an after action report. The boys wanted to know what I was reading, especially the oldest. He is fascinated by the computer and soldiers. I read him some of the report and explained what the terminology meant. I had him read a few sentences, helping him with the words.

Then we read an article about the humanitarian things our soldiers were doing, builing schools, giving medicine, etc.

The oldest wanted to know what being a soldier was about. Never being a soldier, I tried to explain that they didn't go around shooting people all the time, though that was sometimes part of the job, taking care of the bad guys. It did mean doing good things for people who were in trouble some times. And, some times, it was just about drilling and being ready just in case they had to do one of those things.

This didn't seem to satisfy him. What was being a soldier really about?

Well, he's twelve and I'm not in the military, so I thought for a few moments about what I could tell him that he could relate to and would, in short order, explain about soldiers. Times like this, I wish my other brother lived closer and could take up the slack.

I fell back on the few things that I know:

Duty: Doing what you're supposed to do, even when it's hard and you don't want to because it might mean that you have to go away from your family for awhile, not have free or fun time or have to do something you wouldn't normally do except it needs to be done.

Honor: Doing what's right even when it's hard. Doing what you promise to do. Never lie or run away. The most important thing is your honor, what you think of yourself, first. Without it you have nothing. Without it, people will not believe in you.

Country: We live in a great country where we get to do things many people don't get to do. We are free. We can say what we want. We have plenty of food and we get to see our family. It's all because many people have done their best to protect what we have. If we want to keep it, we have to protect our country.

That's what soldiers do.

We had few more moments of discussion where he gave me examples from his daily life of how these apply and I told him, "yes, no, maybe, but..." explaining how each of them does or doesn't fit in.

Finally, he had enough to chew on and decided to go out and play. I was hoping I'd said the right things and it helped him understand.

This weekend, while I was over, they were supposed to clean up the downstairs play area. They ran downstairs and came back in about 10 minutes, saying they were done. They weren't, of course, and my brother told them they had to go back and finish it up. The boys didn't want to, "We wanted to play with aunt Kat."

I could see it was heading into an argument where they'd end up getting grounded and no playing would happen so I jumped in (probably to the annoyance of my brother), "But, boys, you have to do this first. Remember when we were talking about the soldiers? Sometimes you have to do things even when they are hard."

"Because it's our duty?" the oldest asked, knowing the answer.

"That's right. We can play afterwards." I replied.

The younger took up a little chant, "I'm going to do it even though it's hard. I'm going to do it even though it's hard." He likes to repeat things in case you didn't hear him the first time.

They both marched off to the play room while I sounded off, "Hup, two, three, four. Hup, two, three, four. Hurry up so we can play."

They went down to clean the room. My niece, who is three, ran up to me, "Me, too? I clean, too."

"Yep. You, too, young lady." She turned around and ran down stairs to "help". You know the kind of "help" that three year olds can be.

In the end, the room was cleaned and we played a game of "Aggravation" where I trounced them soundly one game and was soundly trounced the next, then we watched "Gladiator" while the niece went into the other room and watched "Fairy-topia" a Barbie cartoon she got for Christmas. She is all things "Barbie" these days, in between bouts of playing in the dirt, jumping on the trampoline or playing baseball with me and the boys. A good mix, if I say so myself. Not too sissy and not too tom boy, though she doesn have a tendency to haul off and slug the boys when they are being a pain.

Then it was time for bed. The boys came over one by one and kissed me on the cheek saying "good-night". I gave them a kiss and a hug. Then the niece ran over and jumped squarely in my lap (knee to the solar plexus; she's learning early) giving me a big hug and a kiss.

She had chocolate/spaghetti face. Yum.

All I have to say is, thank God for little children who remind you what's important and thank God for the soldiers who set a fine example.



Ed - Dallas said...

Sometimes we do things for those 3 youngins' to have the opportunity of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"

....and hopefully they will grow up to write a story of their motorcyle trip with Aunt Katty who has to be in the lead!

Barb said...

Sounds to me like you did a great job of 'splaining, Kat.

Oh - and I know 'zactly what you mean about the closet overload!! LOL

riceburner147 said...

I will have you know i gave ALa her first ride on a motorcycle. (It still didnt stop her from liking yukky Hardly Dangerouses) :).....I wasnt as good an uncle as it sounds like you are an aunt, but i tried.

Kat said...

Ed...that would be a very scary story. Motorcycling with aunt Kat. I can see the headlines now.

Barb, now if they only remember half the things I taught them and forget the other half.

Now I am beyond "closet" overload and they have drifted to a giant pile in my bedroom wing chair waiting for me to get up the gumption to "sort" and I know it will be painful.

Ricey...there is no telling some people's taste!

I'm not always a good aunt. I forget birthdays and things come up that keep me from following through on my promises to go somewhere or come over to play. But they do remember the good things more than not. They love to go to the book store. Reading is fun at least. We look for hours and hours and they are always good when they get their books and sit down to read near the book stacks where I am trying to select mine.

But, I could be better at remembering my promises. I always worry about setting that one bad example (or the other 20 including cursing and smoking).

They do make you think.