Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Littlest Actor

Every family has a story that keeps on giving, one that will be retold for the rest of their days. This is ours. And while I have run it on previous Christmases, I hope you won't mind if I run it again. It occurred a few years ago, when we lived in Oregon. May you Christmas worship time be memorable to you.

Every Christmas Eve, my wife and I take our sons to the children’s service at our church. The service includes a kids’ pageant and our boys seem to pay closer attention than they do during the typical church service. Also, we feel that attending Mass on Christmas Eve provides a wonderful way to begin the holiday. After the service is over, we go out to dinner to the one place open on Christmas Eve, a Chinese restaurant.

While my wife and I believe every family Christmas is special, we cannot conceive that any will be more memorable than this one. It was to be a big night as our older son, Andrew, was finally old enough to participate in the Christmas pageant. He enjoyed two rehearsals and getting into costume, admirably playing the role of a shepherd.

Because church seating at Christmas is limited and we wanted to take pictures, we arrived almost an hour early to get a seat up front.We knew it would be difficult to keep our pre-school age son, Christopher, seated for the long service and the time before it. Therefore, my wife saved our seats while I played with Christopher and kept him entertained. When it was close to time, I corralled him and took him to our seats; he sat on my wife’s lap and anxiously looked for his older brother and the start of the show.

Just before the beginning of the pageant, the stuffy air in the crowded church became a little more unbearable than usual. As there were several babies in the immediate vicinity, my wife and I both thought one of them must have needed changing. Catching the odor, Christopher said aloud, “What’s that smell?” He turned around, looked at his Mom, and said, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!”

We did our best to quiet him down, while the people around us were suppressing their laughter. He continued on, repeating the words, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” Eventually, Christopher quieted down and the pageant began.

After Mass ended, we walked to the car, buckled the kids in, and drove away. On the way to the Chinese restaurant, my wife and I discussed the incident. She realized that the words Christopher used in church were the same ones she had used with him during his potty training. Also, we were convinced one of the babies close to us during the service must have had a poopy diaper or probably just passed gas. We chuckled about it.

However, our little guy provided the last laugh. Overhearing the discussion, Christopher, with the smile that only a young child can produce, piped up with one more comment, “Oh, in church? That was me.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One More Christmas to Believe

Two years ago, my wife and I were convinced it would be the last Christmas for our younger son to believe in Santa Claus. (Our older son had known for years. However, under penalty of lack of presents, he hadn’t spilled anything to his younger brother.)

We had an established pattern of activities for the big day. My younger son and I would begin Christmas Eve by following Santa on the NoradSanta website, tracking Santa through Asia. We played games, went to early church services, dinner (Chinese, since they’re open), and then I would read The Night Before Christmas to him. Then we would check the Norad Santa tracker again as proof of why he should go to bed. After he went to bed, my wife and I would wait about an hour, and then set out the presents.

The trickiest part was that we’d always set one present next to his bed. In his excitement, my younger son has always been a particularly light sleeper on Christmas Eve. Getting in and out of his room was always a challenge.

Then there was the Christmas Eve from two years ago. We kept up pretenses as best we could that Christmas, dodging questions as they arose. We got him off to bed and then waited an hour. I brought the gift upstairs.

Then he woke up and caught me.

He immediately headed back into his bedroom crying. I followed him in and asked him what was wrong. He said he’d seen me and knew that Santa Claus didn’t exist. Like any parent, I couldn’t give up yet and tried to lie my way out of it. “I was just moving the gift,” I told him. “Santa was in a hurry and left it at the bottom of the stairs and I was helping Santa out,” I added.

He didn’t believe me.

I told him I’d prove it to him. I knew my computer was still up, though I hadn’t looked at the Norad Tracker since my son had gone to bed an hour prior. I flipped to the website.

Per the Norad website, Santa was in “Atlanta, Georgia.”

I couldn’t believe it. The website updates around every five minutes or so with a new city, and I’d opened it up when it said Santa was in Atlanta. My son cheered up, convinced that Santa had just been there. He went back to bed, content as could be. After the next Christmas, his questions arose again and he eventually figured it out. But that was one more year of believing. One more year of dreaming.

One more year of childhood.

Did you have any close calls with your kids and what did you do?

Clip art from free-clip-art-images.net

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Gift Not Given

My wife, along with my two sisters, braved the stores on Thanksgiving night, fighting with other shoppers for bargain supremacy. My two brothers-in-law and I volunteered to watch the kids while they were gone (Actually, we watched football, but the kids were there with us.)

When my wife had returned and our kids had gone to bed, my wife pulled out her loot. It had been a fight to get what she'd obtained, sometimes just grabbing at available video games and DVDs, hoping to obtain what was on the boys' lists and then putting back what didn't match. One game, however, had a rating of "M" for Mature and also had an "R' on the side. We'd heard of the game, The game had been heavily advertised and commercials promised the best adventure yet. However, the ratings gave us pause.

We looked up the game on the internet, saw that it was action-filled, exciting, and worth the money for those into gaming. However, then we saw the reason for the warnings. One section of the game required the gamer to torture someone. If the gamer couldn't do it, then one of the characters in the game would. Still, it required torture to progress. Other sections talked about the game’s treatment of women, saying they were seen as sluts and prostitutes and treated with disdain.

There was no question for my wife and me. We took the game back to the store.

I know my 11-yr old will be a little disappointed when he doesn’t get the game on Christmas day. At some point we’ll tell him why. He’s a good kid, but he’s a bit young for a game like this. Too young to separate fantasy and reality. Too young to see such actions.

Too young to play the game.

Have you ever purchased something your kids wanted, then taken it back after realizing it was inappropriate for your child?

Clip are from kamogatanishi-e.ed.jp