Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bacon and Boys

I stumbled out of bed and headed for the kitchen.

You know how a smell or a general feeling suddenly sparks a memory?  One of those pleasant memories stuck in the back of your head and you protect and cherish for a lifetime?  Something triggered my past visits to my grandparent's house.  I knew what I wanted that morning.


Pulled out the large skillet and started the heat on "high".  Tossed in half the batch and then pulled out the tongs.  The children were starting to stir, and the Mrs. was already on the computer with her own social networking.  The bacon began to splatter onto my hands, so I looked for my work gloves and put them on.  I didn't recall this much mess when Grandma did it.

"You remember what what we talked about last night?" Annie called from the office.

"Clean body, clean mind...take your pick?" I retorted.

"Jim!  You're taking the children to school this morning, remember?"

"Yeah...yeah..." I muttered.  Have to stop quoting The Limeliters so much.  Began to go over my schedule for the morning and work.  Still had to submit the numbers for the upcoming presentation later this afternoon.  Rob, from accounting, had to provide a list of financial sheets from Austin.  I was thinking about lumber costs when my daughter walked in with her stuffed walrus.

"Hi, Dad.  Josie was playing on the bars yesterday and wouldn't get down we kept shouting 'You've been on them for three minutes' but she swung up to the top and started crawling from one end to the other then Bridget got on and began to swing her feet between them so she could walk across like a crab and they both hogged the bars and Mrs. Gray was busy telling the boys to form a line for the tether ball so she wouldn't come over and then Bridget got on top too and they both were going back and forth so none of the rest of us could get on and Josie is SO inconsiderate and..."

"Uh-huh." I said, turning the bacon over and getting splattered in the process.  A spittle of grease hit my forehead.  "Just a minute, darling.  Let me get some goggles.  Don't go near the pan."  I ran to my closet and pulled out my swim goggles, since the yard glasses were broken.  Slipped on some boots to cover my feet and ran back.

"Then we started playing hopscotch and Amy started cutting and I was all 'Amy, it's not your turn' but she kept doing it anyway and Charlotte and I had to stand in the back and Amy just doesn't know how to play fair..."

"Uh-huh." I said, getting the paper towels ready.

"Did you remember that James has that life-growth class today?" Annie called out.

That caught me by surprise.  "That's today?  I thought they covered that in sixth grade."

"Times have changed." she replied.

I was still contemplating that fact when I felt my daughter place her hands on both sides of my cheeks.  While talking to my wife, Tessa went over, retrieved the step-stool, climbed up and was staring into my eyes.

"Dad, listen to me.  I don't think it bothers Charlotte that Amy cut in front of us because she doesn't get bothered by what people do she just stands there and lets people do whatever they want and I know Jesus said to turn the other cheek but why can't other kids play fair and there was a long line at the monkey bars but Bridget got on and didn't even notice the rest of us..."

And I stood there and listened for 15 more minutes about playground etiquette while the bacon got an extra few minutes on the skillet.  I committed in my mind to take Tessa out that night for ice-cream and get the low-down on everything happening in her life.  Eight very crispy pieces of bacon and five broken eggs later, the children were buckled into their seats on their way to school.  I stopped at the traffic light, listening to Three Dog Night on the radio while the children talked about which Magic Tree House book was the best.  A patrol car pulled up next to ours and the officer turned his head to look at me.  He kept staring at me and I started to get nervous.  Did I run through the light?  Was my brake light out?

"Dad, you have your goggles still on." James called from the back.  Great, beetle man driving the kids to school.

"Jeremiah was a bullfrog.  Was a good friend of mine.  I never understood a single word he said, but I helped him to drink his wine..."

We started the turn into the school's parking lot.

"You know I love the ladies.  Love to have my fun.  I'm a high life flyer and a rainbow rider.  A straight shootin' son of a gun..."  I punched the pause button, and found myself looking at my son in the rear-view mirror.  What was my son absorbing?  What was I teaching him?

"Tessa, get out and have a nice day, sweetie.  And stay away from that Tommy kid."  Jessie opened the door and headed to class.  I picked up my cell and called the school.  "Hi.  James has a cold and we don't want him to spread germs."  James' jaw dropped open.  "He won't be in today."

We ended up sitting in the far booth at Denny's with a plate of fries and ranch dressing on the side.

"OK...two things you need to remember.  First, adolescence is pretty exciting.  You're body's going to be changing, and you're going to be feeling a lot of different stuff.  You'll start getting crushes on girls.  And you're gonna get more hair in some places."

"Yeah...on my armpits!"  James laughed and raised his arms up.

"Yeah...there, too."  I was glad it was a little lighthearted.  It made what I was telling him a little easier for him.  And me.  "You'll get some more hair down below, too."  He started cracking up.  "And on your face.  We'll go out and pick out a razor, just like my Dad did for me.  But don't get freaked out.  Everyone goes through it.  And I want you to be able to come to me if you have any questions.  OK?"

He nodded.

"They're going to show you this movie in school.  The boys will go off with the principal, and the girls will go somewhere else.  You'll hear about some things you'll be going through.  I think there's this bouncing private part in the movie, too."  I picked up a french fry and started bouncing it up and down in the air. We both started laughing.  "Adolescence can be exciting.  It can also be a little frustrating, so I want you to talk to me if you don't know what's going on, or if you get frustrated.  OK?"

He nodded again.

"OK...the second thing is this.  You gotta respect other kids and their bodies.  Everyone goes through it, but it might be different for each kid.  Some girls will grow bigger in the chest faster than others, and some boys will have hair on their face sooner than you.  The important thing is that you don't make fun of others.  God has a plan for each of us and you're going to have to trust that His plan is right on target for you.  Remember what the bible said.  He formed you in your mamma's womb, and He's going to grow you into the man He wants you to be.  And you can bet that God has a great plan for you.   Got it?"

James picked up a fry and began making designs in the ranch dressing.  "Yeah.  We learned about how God watches over us night and day.  'He never sleeps.  He never slumbers.'  But I just didn't understand the whole three-in-one thing."

That was a turn, but it provided a little break from the birds and bees talk.  "Oh, well, God is spirit you know.  And we can't think that the way we are is the way God is.  One way to think about it is this."  I reached into James's glass and took out a few ice cubes.  "What do I have in my hand?"

"Ice." he answered.

"Yeah, but it's all water.  Water.  Ice.  Steam.  It's all water, but in different forms.  So the difference is that the Father is God, the Son - Jesus - is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but all at the same time.  And God will never leave you.  The cool think is that God will direct you through His Spirit to face the stuff in adolescence.  When you get upset and want to lash out, or if you start wanting to get closer to girls," James let out a snicker, "then just trust in Him and He'll guide you in the right way.  Got it?"  I was feeling good about somehow tying it all together.

"Yeah.  Hey, Dad...did you know that John Sutter provided the Indians with jobs when all the other businesses in the area turned them away?"

So I got through this session OK.  I gave the Man upstairs a silent 'thank you' and promised that I'd pay a little more attention to what my kids were facing.  The waitress came around again.

"So, are you boys doing OK or can I bring you something more?"

I looked across at James.  "How about a plate of bacon?  Not too crispy?"


  1. What a great reminder to slow down and take time with our kids — and maybe a plate of fries will help the conversation go well! Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Thanks, Courtney at