I recently learned something about my childhood that I have no memories of. I don’t doubt it–it rings true. It’s regarding me, my dad, and playing ball. I’m told I was about three at the time, and my dad wanted to teach me how to play catch.

The catch is that he was an accomplished athlete, and I was a gangly toddler. And each time he threw–I’m guessing it was a football–and I didn’t catch, he would throw harder.

At my stomach.

As I said, I don’t remember this, but my mom does. (She saw this transpire, and by her recollection, did nothing insofar as I know, at the time). He got angrier and angrier, and threw harder and harder, until I was reduced to tears.

I can only surmise that in his mind he thought he was trying to to toughen me up. But let’s call it what it was: bullying. A grown man, and skilled athlete, making a toddler cry? That’s not power–because anyone could do that–that’s just sheer meanness.

What keeps me up at night is that, despite his not being a regular part of my life since I was about thirteen, is that I can be just as mean. In trying to prepare my own son for the adult world, there are times I’ve gone overboard with the whole “trying to toughen him up” routine. For that, I’m truly sorry.

With regards to my dad: it’s hard to say, and not something I want to see–but the things I hate about him, are the things I hate about me.

God help me: I am my father’s son.

Please note: I’m not sharing this here to impugn my dad’s character, as he stands, or falls, by his own actions. Just as I stand, or fall, by mine. Bringing this to light here, and now, stems from the notion that I’m not alone. And if I’m not alone, neither are you. It’s my hope that by sharing some my story, you will be encouraged to share yours, or see something of yours in mine.

Which brings me to: can you relate?

It’s Not My Blog

randomlychad  —  January 3, 2012 — 12 Comments

Recently, I took time off from blogging. Life had gotten loud, and I’d lost my way. I forgot one of the cardinal rules of blogging: it’s not about me. It’s about you–the readers.

What do I mean?

Here are three things I learned during my time away:

1) “It’s not my blog.” Sure, my name is on it, and I produce the content, but if it’s going to have any appreciable readership it can’t be all about me. You have to see yourself in the mirror I’m holding up to you.

2) “No dirty laundry” I learned the hard way that a blog is not the place to air one’s dirty laundry. Yes, it can be a place to get personal–to be real–but not at the expense of common sense and discretion. There are some things that need to be kept sacred. A blog, as tempting as it might be, is not a place for self-therapy (that is what a journal is for). A little self-deprecation goes a long way, but mockery never wins the day.

3) “Be yourself” What this means is: your writing gains resonance via “relatability.” And we can only be relatable when we’re being ourselves. In other words, don’t pander–don’t try to be someone other than you. You couldn’t if you tried–so stop. Besides your audience is quite adept at sniffing out phonies–they know when you’re “selling out.” They know the difference between trying to be viral, versus writing that’s vital.

This is what I’ve learned during my break, and indeed it’s what I plan on applying as I return to posting regularly here.

How about you? What rules do you write by?

I like to think that I’m a fairly sensitive guy. I may not always pick up after myself, but after twenty-one years I still get the door for my wife. I bring home flowers for her from time to time. I try to be attuned to her needs, listening to her heart (and not just her words).

I try.

Sometimes I succeed.

And other times…

You might think I have just half a brain.

What do I mean?

The other week, I had a cold. We’re not talking just the sniffles here, folks. It was a full-on headful of nasties that migrated south. And I don’t mean Florida.

So, I had congestion. That came out in a most disconcerting way. (I’ll leave the details to your imagination). That particular feeling, as it is wont to do, seared itself–in its choking uncomfortableness–in my memory.

That being said, as the cold was winding down, my wife and I decided to go out to dinner.

To Red Lobster (yes, it’s well-nigh impossible to get great seafood in Phoenix–so the Lobster has to do).

I guess that was my first mistake: going to Red Lobster.

My second was asking our waiter if there was anything on the menu he didn’t like. Quite surprisingly, he indicated he wasn’t a fan of seafood! He was either gaming me, or he was being refreshingly honest (I’ll take the latter, Alex, for $500, please)–as events will show.

My third, when my wife asked if she could order raw oysters on the half-shell, was answering in the affirmative. (I guess it technically wasn’t a mistake, as I know she–having grown up in New Jersey–is quite fond of “frutti di mare;” thus I wanted to bless her).

By this time things are going well, we’ve had some delicious, decadent Cheddar Bay biscuits (I swear Red Lobster must put some crack in them–they’re that addictive), our salads, we’ve talked, etc.

Then our non-seafood-liking waiter returns. With my wife’s oysters. In the immortal words of Austin Powers, they (oysters) “are not my bag, baby.” So, as he’s preparing to set down what is to my wife a plate of marine deliciousness, I say (remembering he’s not a seafood guy):

“Oysters, she loves ’em. But they’re not really my thing. Suppose it’s textural.”

Seafood-hating waiter says “I know what you mean.”

“Yeah, you know, I’ve had this cold, and oysters remind me of that sliding feeling in the back of my throat.”

Oops!

Waiter guy laughs, and goes on about his business. While my poor wife is left there staring at what now appears to be nothing so much as plate of chilled gray boogers!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, score one for Mr. Sensitive!

Those husband points I thought I was earning by taking my sweetie out to dinner, by saving her from having to cook that night? Gone at the speed of sound.

Oops!

Men, fess up: have you ever done anything like that?

Ladies, how have you reacted in similar situations?

Last night was an interesting one. My five year-old–hereinafter Princess–had great difficulty going to sleep. Not because we’d deviated from the routine–we hadn’t–but due to the fact that someone (who shall remain nameless: mom) allowed her take a very late, long nap.

So, yes, Virginia, we had family devotions, cleaned up after dinner, etc. And tried to get Princess to go to sleep.

She of course would have none of it.

“I can’t sleep.”

“It’s 10:00–please play quietly in your room.”

“No, I can’t sleep.”

“Please count sheep, or Rapunzels, or something, ok?”

“Ok, Poppy, I’ll try.”

“Thanks, Princess.”

Thirty minutes later (or so I’m told, because we the parents were quite done by that time):

“I can’t sleep. Brother, will you play with me?”

“Princess, I’m tired. If you be quiet and go to sleep, I’ll give you a dollar.”

“Ok, brother.”

This morning:

As I’m getting ready to leave for work, I see my son–Brother Bearish–heading downstairs. I ask “Hey, are you gonna let the dogs out?”

“Not yet, dad–first I gotta get a dollar for Princess. I told her last night if she’d just go to sleep that I’d pay her.”

Knowing that he, being thirteen, keeps everything important to him (including his wallet) in his room, my Spider-sense was tingling.

“Isn’t your wallet in your room? Where are you getting that dollar from?”

With a sheepish look and impish grin, he said “From her purse.” Clever boy, I thought. She would never know.

But I would. And being as I’m not down with bribes anyhow, I said, “No, sir! That may be a creative solution to a problem you created for yourself, but your first mistake was bribing your sister. But since you’ve given your word, you go get a buck from your wallet and give it to her. You promised, and now you gotta follow through.”

“But dad…”

“No, son, that’s not how we roll. If you give your word, even if costs you, you follow through.”

Of course, behind closed doors, my wife and I laughed uproariously. Kids!

Prior to my hiatus, I committed to writing something up regarding peace during Advent for Adam McHugh; however, due to my tardiness in getting it to him his calendar filled up, and he was unable to use my post. He indicated that it was good, and I should try to have it posted elsewhere.

So I did. I sent it out via bcc: to a number of bloggers I respect. I was pleasantly surprised to hear quickly back from Tamara Outloud (she was the first of many) that not only would she run it, but she would run it this Friday!

I took this to be a “God thing.”

So rather than sit on it for a year, I’m breaking “radio silence” to bring you What Is Peace? hosted by Tamara Outloud.

This will be my last post until sometime in the new year. Thank-you for reading, for your encouragement, and your prayers! I appreciate all of you more than words can convey.

Chad