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Teaching by Example. A True Story

Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:50 am
by CountryBoy
Teaching by Example. A True Story

Katie was feeling pretty bad on Saturday so we decided that I would stay home from church with her the next day. Cathy had to cook a breakfast casserole for our yearly Sunday school breakfast so she had to take that in. I wanted her to get the credit she deserved for all the hard work she put into that, if it was anything like last year's casserole I didn't want to be seen anywhere near it. OK, I admit it, I told Katie to act like she was gonna throw up because I remembered how bad that casserole was last year. Look, those people have just recently started talking to me again and I'm not sure I can go through that for another year. Plus, I still get a thank you note from that one dude every time he gets diarrhea…hey dude, I didn't cook it!

Today was going to be a day chock full of learning. I think that as parents we should teach our children by example. I've never understood parents who smoke or drink and then tell their kids not to, I just don't think that sends the right message. Yet we also need to be creative in how we teach our children, they don't enjoy learning through lecture format or classroom environments near as much as they do through practical experience. So once in a great while we need to plan a day of teaching out of the box, in my case, way out of the box. Today I decided to let Katie learn some enormous life lessons through mistakes that I purposely made. Of course, being the natural actor I am, she's gonna think she's the teacher today...she'll love it! Yesterday Katie had asked me what an anniversary was...I think there was a mention of it on TV, I can't really remember what prompted the question. But I explained it in terms of Cathy and my wedding anniversary and how we celebrate our marriage every year on the same day. That little conversation comes into play later in the story.

After Cathy left for church, Katie was lying on the couch watching TV and I was outside fiddling around in the back yard, checking on our plants, pulling a few weeds, whatever. Bunny, our fourteen year old cat, was following along and as we got around to the deck she suddenly zoomed ahead through the bushes. I knew what was going to happen next because I've seen her catch many a chipmunk. She eats them whole, the feet, the ears, the tail, every delicious little morsel. She used to bring them to us to get our approval but I always rescued the cute little buggers. I don't want to be the one responsible for Alvin not singing in next year's Christmas special. So when she took off, so did I, yelling and screaming, hoping to distract her. She wasn't listening very well and since I had left the back door open she ran inside the house with the live chipmunk in her mouth. Scary thoughts began to race through my head of how that chipmunk was gonna ruin most everything in our house, thank goodness Bunny let me catch up to her and she actually released Alvin into my hands. As I'm standing there out of breath I calmly explain to Katie about how I accidentally left the door open when I went outside and if I had been a good boy and closed the door, Bunny could not have gotten in the house with the chipmunk. She bought it hook, line and sinker, as if it really were accidental. OK, maybe this one was not a totally planned lesson, but we can still use it. Lesson #1 - Never leave the door open when you go outside! You see, this is how children really learn, this little lesson will stick in her mind a whole lot longer than just telling her to close the door, right!

Naturally Katie saw and heard us come running into the house as I yelled at the top of my lungs, so after giving her the impromptu lesson, I excitedly asked her to find her bug box, which she did. Firmly holding the chipmunk I asked if she wanted to see it up close and personal. Her reply was an emphatic, "No", she was a tad bit frightful of all the noise and commotion. I do tend to stir things up a smidgen when I'm excited about something or other. But after to few seconds she came running over with a wide smile on her face and the bug box in her hand. I needed to see if Bunny had done any major damage to the chipmunk so I made a small crack between my fingers and out jumped Alvin about two feet up into the air. By the sheer grace of God I was able to catch him before he landed...I proudly grinned at Katie, her eyes were as big as saucers, neither of us believing my deftness and agility, that's when he bit the living tar out of my finger with those needle-sharp teeth, drawing blood I might add. So I instinctively loosened my grip a bit and out he jumped again, this time onto the couch. I have no idea how I did it, but I was able to summon the courage to grab him once again, this time I cautiously finagled him into the bug box without further injury. Katie saw the real blood trickling from my finger and I truly doubt that she will ever pick up a chipmunk with her bare hands! Lesson #2 - Never handle wild animals without protective gear and clothing, they may bite or scratch you, and they may have diseases. I am painfully aware that this lesson was an offspring of Lesson #1 so I take credit for neither...but I will still use them to instruct my child!

We just sat there looking at Alvin through the screened sides of the bug box as he frantically ran around trying to find a place to hide. His heart had to be pumping four or five times faster than the normal chipmunk heart, with all that he had just been through. I'm guessing that little Alvin had probably narrowly escaped those kitty jaws on a few other occasions...but his luck had run out today. Can you imagine being carried away in the mouth of your mortal enemy and knowing that you will soon be eaten alive as lunch bunch? Bunny just licked her lips as Katie tried to comfort Alvin. She really wanted to keep that chipmunk but I convinced her that we needed to release him back into the wild where he belongs...which we did. Wow, was that exciting or what? Lesson #3 - Wild animals should remain in the wild. Some lessons are just as hard to teach and as they are to learn...I really wanted a pet chipmunk too, but this wasn't about me, it was about teaching Katie some real life lessons. Although I've still not gotten to anything on the lesson plan, I'm on a roll just the same!

We made sure Bunny was locked inside the house when we released Alvin. We sat the bug box on the porch and opened the door to watch him dart out...but he didn't! We gave him verbal commands in chipmunk-eze, we tapped on the screen, we did everything to let him know that he was free and we were not gonna devour him, but he wouldn't take the hint. I tentatively put my hand in the box, not the one he bit earlier, and prodded to try and get him to turn around and see his freedom but even that didn't work, he seemed to want to stay in the bug box. Then, because I have the IQ of a four year old, I decided to hold the cage up to head level with my face right in front of the door and talk him out, like I'm some sort of hostage negotiator or something, I still can't believe I did that! Of course a face like mine is all it takes to scare any living thing back to reality. He jumped squarely on my face, we stared in each other's eyes for a tiny fraction of a second, I knew he wouldn't be taken alive again, and then he ran over my bald head to his freedom, I've got the claw prints to prove it. Granted, that wasn't as scary as being carried away in the mouth of your mortal enemy, but my heart was pounding none the less! Lesson #4 - Never handle wild animals without protective gear and clothing, they may bite or scratch you, and they may have diseases. Yes, some lessons are worth repeating!

I decide to use this opportunity to teach Katie a small lesson about separation, Lesson #5. We talked about how Alvin's family reacted to him, and he to them, when they reunited, and how important it is to let those you love know how you feel about them often. That's so important, especially in the event that they don't return, like what almost happened to Alvin. I purposely left out the part about how they smelled the predator on him and ostracized him from the chipmunk borough for all eternity. He's probably sleeping in some abandoned rat hole as I type.
Oh well, on to the more mundane tasks of life. I guess I was getting hungry, because seeing Bunny lick her chops made me feel like grilling some meat, so Katie and I decided to go to the grocery store to pick up a couple of roasters...may as well cook two birds at once and freeze some for later. When we walked past the balloons and cards at the Fresh Market, Katie said, "You need to get mommy a balloon for her marriage anniversary." I just looked at her in amazement and thanked God for her, because I had completed forgotten that today was our fourteenth (or was it fifteenth) wedding anniversary. As I began to read the cards to pick out 'the perfect card” for my darling Cathy, it hit me! This was not our anniversary at all, Katie just said that because of our discussion yesterday...and because she saw the balloons hanging all over the place. Man, I almost messed up royally, the "wrong month" anniversary gift could be as calamitous as the "forgotten" gift. So, feeling like a complete idiot for letting a four year old manipulate me so thoroughly, I lowered my IQ to that of a three year old and started to head back to the meat department to get the chickens. That's when I had the real revelation...I realized what today really was...September 29th, Cathy's birthday, equal in importance only to the anniversary date! So Katie really had saved the day, inadvertently, by mentioning the anniversary thing. This was a huge lesson to be learned, but not for Katie so it goes unnumbered. Have September 29th and January 30th tattooed on a part of your body that you look at on a daily basis. So, being the loving, observant husband I am, I get two cards for Cathy's birthday, one from me and one from Katie...and a balloon! This could have been a very dismal day indeed! We sing happy birthday in homage to mommy all the way home, for the near fatal error I came so close to making. Oh well, I try to shake off the guilt and get back to my happy place.
When Cathy got home from church we told her a little about our day, omitting only what we thought would hurt her feelings...we talked mostly about the chipmunk. She saw the balloon and opened the cards, she loved them, life is good, I'm back in my happy place!

I spent a little time preparing the chickens for the grill, put a generous amount of savory dry-rub on them, butterflied them and cut out the breast bone, and a little later in the afternoon I began to get ready for cooking them up. After getting the grill up to about 300 degrees, I went over to put the rack on and put the birds inside. I casually opened the grill and out shot this huge ball of fire that singed most of the hair off of the right side of my body...what a smell. I look pretty cool though, with one eyebrow and one eyelash, and I'll definitely need to trim the left side of my beard to match the new length of the right side. I've actually found out that there are times when it's advantageous to be bald! It's weird how when I blink my eyes I feel like the right eye blinks much faster...I guess there's not much drag with the eyelash gone. Lesson #6 - Use extreme caution when opening the grill, flashbacks may be very very dangerous. Let's face it, you can talk about fire and heat until you are blue in the face, but let your kid see the fire-ball engulf you and consider the lesson learned! Sometimes you have to suffer for your kids, and most parents would rather go through the pain than see their kids go through it, I'm certainly no exception to that rule, hey, I do what I gotta do! Please, do not attempt this at home, I'm a trained professional, it took careful planning by a team of experts to set this stunt up. Allright already, I almost burnt my head off, like you've never had an accident before! The smell of burnt hair is all consuming, off to the showers I go, tail between my legs!

Of course I clean up my messes, so after getting the two birds ready and on the grill I loaded the dish washer with every dish we own...because when I cook something I mess up every dish we own. Of course the dishwasher can't possibly hold them all unless you do some creative cramming, which is what I was doing when I sliced my finger on the meat cleaver. It was a decent little cut, not stitch-worthy because my goal was to teach Katie a lesson about sharp objects, not to cut off anymore of my fingers, whataya think, I'm crazy? And to let you know how carefully orchestrated it was, it was not even on the same hand that Alvin bit! So now I have a band aide on each hand and may soon need to wrap gauze around the arm with the salve on's very red...and as smooth as a baby's behind. Lesson #7 - Let mommy load the dishwasher.
There, a full day of learning. After a brief visit to the emergency room, we'll start the next session with Lesson #8 — Do not stand on fire-ant mounds, the ants will repeatedly bite you. I think I may be up for the teacher of the year award pretty soon with my creative new teaching style…if I'm still around.
Katie girl, I really hope you're getting all this stuff? Ohhhh, don't worry, I'll probably do a refresher on most of that stuff in the next few months anyway. I'll do whatever it takes to make your life easier.
Love Dad.

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2005 5:00 am
by Battlehelmet
Well nice joke country boy, I didn't quite get it...

I have a comment about this in the story.
I lowered my IQ to that of a three year old and started to head back to the meat department to get the chickens. That's when I had the real revelation...I realized what today really was...September 29th, Cathy's birthday, equal in importance only to the anniversary date! So Katie really had saved the day, inadvertently, by mentioning the anniversary thing.

Err.. You cannot actually lower your intelligence quota by logic in the story. Is was vague enough for me but this statement stood out. It is not very logical to say " I lowered my IQ" then...

If you want I can start half-stories and you complete the other half to help you become a better writer or storyteller. Which is something I am always eager and willing to do.


Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2005 12:48 pm
by kateliz
It wasn't supposed to be taken literally, Helmet. He just meant that he was being extra stupid. I got the story. It was interesting and amusing, but I'm not one to laugh at those things. And I think that the story was done pretty well overall, just maybe needs a little touching up to make it flow smoother.

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 6:01 am
by CountryBoy
What was I thinking when I posted a little humorous story I wrote for my 6 yr old daughter here. I lower my I.Q. to 2.

BH, first tell me what UNirrefutable means and I'll take your writing lessons. :lol:

Kateliz, I never intended to submit it to Readers' Digest, it was just a break from some of the mind numbing posts on this debating site. :?

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 9:42 pm
by AttentionKMartShoppers
Don't be offended by helmet hair....


Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:44 am
by CountryBoy
There ya go brother kmart. That's what we need more of around here. We need to love on each other. Ain't that how the world is supposed to recognize us, by our love for one another? :D

Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 6:26 pm
by AttentionKMartShoppers
Whether you're being sarcastic or not-yes.

Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 6:34 pm
by CountryBoy
No sarcasm there brother, you tried to lift up my spirits, that's loving on me. I'm gonna give you a big hug in heaven, we'll sit down and talk for a billion years or so and still not be late for anything. I can't hardly wait to get there.

Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 10:08 pm
by Battlehelmet
:lol: See? told you.

Battlehelmet is a Mad Hatter

Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:46 pm
by kateliz
I don't get it BH. Are you being mean just like CountryBoy said you were? What did you tell us?

Posted: Tue May 10, 2005 5:30 pm
by Battlehelmet
What threw me off was the statement of lowering the IQ.I wasn't being mean but skeptical when the sarcasm was brought up.

It's a nice story after I read the whole thing in-depth.

I was wrong.