Monday, March 26, 2007

Family and truthfulness

The end of the semester is in sight so if I don't post it's because my teachers think that I rather write 5 page papers that only one person will ever read. I missed my Sunday family post again, so I'll do it now instead.

I want to start with a little story of Dad (me) watching the boys while Mom was out doing something. My task seemed simple, give the kids a bath, put them to bed and then clean up after dinner. I'm a doctoral student, this should be a piece of cake.

The bath went well. I got both of the boys nice and clean and they enjoyed playing in the bath. When bath time was over I took the younger one (Six-pence) out of the bath, wrapped him in his towel and took him to put his pajamas on. I left a towel on the toilet so the Mugwump could dry himself off and join us when I was ready. Really it was a fool-proof plan.

I finished getting Six-pence in his pajamas and I called for the Mugwump to come join us. He didn't. No big deal, I could go dry him myself and Six-pence would just wait for us. When I went into the bathroom I found that the Mugwump was trying to dry himself off, but was unwilling to get out of the bath first. That made for a soaked towel that I needed to deal with and I needed to find a dry one so I could dry the kid. I was able to accomplish all of those tasks without any difficulty.

I got the Mugwump dried off and was taking him out to get his pajamas on when I saw Six-pence in the kitchen. When did he learn to climb? So Six-pence was standing on a chair, digging the serving spoon into the rice from dinner and flinging it around the kitchen. I sent the Mugwump into the living room and grabbed Six-pence and took him into the living room as well. The two boys were laughing hysterically, I think they had planned it. I had no more incidents that evening (because the "incidents" were asleep), but had the opportunity to spend some quality time cleaning the kitchen before my wife got home.

Over the weekend we finished rototilling the front yard. We've got strawberries and onions planted in a little corner of the yard, but we're waiting to plant most of the garden until the next freeze (which will hopefully be the last for the year). While we were out working in the yard we had a neighbor stop by and loan us a movie ("Summer of the Monkeys") and talk about gardening. He told me that I would have to really stay on top of spraying my fruit trees and that I would need to use "the good stuff". He also asked when I was going to rototil the garden plot.

You see, I rototilled the lawn because it was mostly weeds. I felt that I needed to destroy the weeds in order for the grass seed to have a fighting chance at surviving, so I rototilled it. The garden, on the other hand, I rototilled last fall and then covered with compost, cardboard and another layer of compost. The neighbors seem to think that I need to rototil the garden again, but I think it's ready to go. I have never seen a rototilled forest, yet those are the most fertile grounds around. I think it's fertile because of the layer of leaves that allow composting. I'm following mother nature rather than tradition, but I feel like I may be flogged by the neighbors for not conforming to traditional gardening strategies.

Social pressures are a weird thing. I have a lot of respect for my neighbors and recognize that they have a lot more gardening experience than I do. They have given me a lot of advice on gardening (because I spend a lot of time in the yard preparing a garden). I generally just smile and nod as I have floods of thoughts going through my mind of how differently I'm going to do things. I like to avoid confrontation and I know that the advice is a nice thought, but that is NOT how I want to do things. Should I have said something? Would that have been the truthful thing to do?

The man who lent us the movie goes to church with us. When we showed up at church he asked the Mugwump what he thought if it (it had scared him, he's a pretty sensitive 3 year old). The Mugwump told him, "I didn't like it, it scared me". That was not the socially acceptable way of demonstrating gratitude, but I liked it. He just said it how it was. As a parent I thought about discouraging that kind of comment, but then I thought about it and really I'm proud that he spoke his mind (our neighbor didn't hear him, so it was sort of a non-issue). I often times find myself more interested in the "socially acceptable" than speaking my mind. I'm trying to get over that because if you don't value me for what I really believe, then you really don't value me. That doesn't mean we have to agree on everything, but don't expect me to conform just to make you happy. And if I don't conform to your thoughts it's not because I don't like you it's because living with integrity is more important to me that pleasing everyone with whom I cross paths.

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