His camera bag full of miniature superheroes securely stowed on his shoulder, my son marched up to me in the kitchen and proclaimed: “Daddy, I’m going to college now. Bye!”
“College, huh?” I replied. “Okay, Buddy. Have fun!”
He gave me a nod and strode into the other room, college bound.
I’m not sure where he got this from–perhaps his Nina (my sister-in-law) who just started her second semester as an undergrad. Whatever the source, it was both hilarious and adorable at first. But then a poignant new layer seeped in.
I was reminded that this stage doesn’t last forever–that someday he actually will be leaving for college. In fact, because our family embarks on all great milestones in twos, my wife and I have been quietly dreading the emotional double-whammy of his sister and him both graduating high school, moving out, and starting college at the same time.
13 My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home;
16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
–From Proverbs 24
Sometimes I wonder why I stumble so hard in times of calamity. Sometimes I wonder why I stumble in times of peace.
When he has a blup in is hand, he wields it with deadly force.
This is perhaps my newest favorite of my son’s phraseology. It means golf clubs (or flip flops, or bathtub, depending on the context.)
For a long time now, I have been writing down all of his verbiage to develop a personal lexicon for those who wish to speak with him. It’s helpful for family and babysitters, but mostly, I just treasure it. I love adding everything I hear to it and it’s getting quite impressive. By my count my son regularly uses at least 175 words/phrases. I don’t know where that is on the bell-curve, but people are often impressed how well he uses language and expresses things. He conveys emotions and ideas well, even at two years of age and without the articulation.
In my experience, a lot of parents are hyper-concerned about the language and cognitive abilities of their toddlers. Especially with boys.
He’s struggling with language so we’re putting him in speech therapy. Me: How old is he? Sixteen months. Me: [Pause] Give him time.
I tell all of them pretty much the same thing: don’t worry. I’ve worked with children with officially diagnosed delays, like autism; that’s a different situation, and there’s a lot of hope with those. But every child is different, and the most important thing is guarding their environment (which parents CAN do something about) and giving them a place to learn well, rather than directing their language (which parents really CAN’T do much about.)
For example, challenge them to speak so that they really get what they want. When my son just whines for something, I tell him clearly, “I don’t know what you want. Tell me. Try to use words.” He virtually always makes a go for it.
Maybe I’ll share more of his words as time goes along.
Sometimes you read something that hits your Truth button like a savage blow to the solar plexus. This is one of those things. (Thank you to my wife for sharing it on her timeline. ;-) )
I wish that I could energize and focus myself by thinking and (relatedly) by reading. I wish I could set my mind to something and just GO but I find that focus and a state of wakefulness are kind of like trying to keep a spinning top from falling off the sides of a coffee table. You have to herd that mess.
(See what I mean?!?! I’m writing late at night and while thinking about the impact of this last statement, I nodded off, fingers barely poised above the home row—except for the heavy ‘d’ finger.
I really did write this segment late at night, really was exhausted, and really did fall asleep in the process. But before I banished it to my Ridiculous bin, I wanted to share some good news with you. The good news is that working WITH the human brain and our physiology, instead of against it, is really worthwhile and will help us focus and reach our goals.
Here are some scientifically backed tips for getting more of your potential loosed.
Eliminate distractions. Our brain wants to follow distractions. Studies show that a distraction happens every 11 minutes throughout one’s day, while it takes one’s brain 25 minutes to ‘get over it’ and move on. Therefore, cutting ourselves off from certain distractions will pull out stops towards accomplishing our goal(s).
Limit work sessions, especially creative ones. With very few exceptions, brainstorming sessions, creative writing workshops, and other productive increments should be limited to an hour. Beyond that, everyone keeps looking like adults but inside we start to naturally resemble pent up children that need to go run around the playground for a while. Therefore, build in mandatory breaks for yourself. If you need more time for a project/task, or if it just isn’t done yet, break it up into sections–taking advantage of…
Chunks. I’m not kidding here–chunking–is a psychological term for how our brain groups things together in order to efficiently keep track of information. This is why we remember things better if grouped into threes. (E.g. phone numbers (555) 555-, “they always come in threes, don’t they?”) This is also useful for planning how to teach and share information: combine it with the fact that in a list of things people will remember the first and last items best, and you can greatly increase the chances they’ll retain some of it.
Git ‘er dun. Okay, so this one isn’t scientifically steeped here. But it’s right up there with “Just Do It.” Simply finishingsomething–even if it is only one item out of many you want to complete, or if it is something very small–will give you an emotional and cognitive pat on the back. I saw this in action the most working with special-needs children and those with learning disabilities. When these kids are just floundering and on the brink of total shutdown, we quickly bring the finish line to them so that they are guaranteed to at least cross it. (We would try again later.)
Tutor: “Okay, Johnny, what’s 3 + 4?” Johnny: “AAAAHHHHH!!!!!”–while flailing and writhing in pain. Tutor: “Okay, Johnny, touch the circle. Good job! Go play!”
These little tips are sufficient to lighten up on yourself and get tough with yourself simultaneously. Work with your biological inclinations, get serious about building and guarding an environment you’re most likely to succeed in, and then go for it.
I snapped this driving the other day, as I had a strange moment. In the words of Scooby, “RRUUGH?!?”
As I pulled up behind it, I squinted and thought, “What is that word where it should say ‘Volvo’?”
Yes, it says Ferrari there under the rear wiper. It even had the iconic horse emblem on the front grill, and matching crests on the hubs of the wheels. Very interesting sense of humor here in HB.
Pastor Jay got me thinking the other day. He made a great point.
God always uses small numbers to work with. Not large numbers. He uses a baby in a stable, the runt of the litter, the shepherd, the little old lady…
If large numbers are used, God doesn’t get the credit; people will tend to believe that if a big campaign succeeded, it was due to a show of human force. An individual or a small group of people bringing down huge walls or parting seas DEMANDS that God receive the credit.
This is extremely encouraging to me because it reminds me that starting small, having small odds, or having big obstacles, are not really signs of trouble. They are not signs that I am way in over my head. (Or maybe, even still, being in over my head is a good place to be sometimes, especially when it comes to my dreams.)
In his great book that I’m reading, JOLT!, Phil Cooke talked about his brother-in-law (I think it was) who was an oil tanker captain. These massive ships are so big and heavily weighed down, and have such a small rudder, that they have to start turning 20 miles ahead of time in order to turn and change course!
Massive ships take a long time to turn, but it is worth it.
Sometimes I see myself as a massive object: emotionally, physically, I can take a while to get going, but then when I do I can get momentum that is hard to stop. Maybe I can use this as more of an asset than I thought.
More importantly, my efforts to change my life and take on new challenges and change course is going to take a big push, but it is well worth the suspense.