With my son graduating 8th grade yesterday and my daughter set to graduate from high school this Saturday, I look back with fond memories of them when they were just mere babies to who they are now and what they are becoming. I am literally amazed at what they can do and what they can accomplish. Granted my wife and I gave them the tools to navigate their way through life but they managed perfectly using their own sense and sensibilities. Everything that they’ve achieved so far was due to their unique personality and innate traits; their exterior demeanor belies their true potential. It is because of this that I cherish being a parent. My children’s vim and vigor, no holds barred quest to grab a hold of what the world has to offer and run with it, is truly inspiring. It keeps me on my toes, anxiously waiting to see what unfolds for them and how they’ll astound us. Reflecting on my children’s journey into adulthood overwhelms me with pride and joy and is one of life’s gifts that I am truly honored to accept.
The ABC’s of Living Your Life
When we start out in life, that sense of naivety is truly a blessing. We are born into this world free of judgement. We see others as our equals. We have big dreams. Our imaginations are at its peak. We have no limitations. We don’t know the meaning of quit. We aren’t afraid to take chances and fail. We are curious about the world and seek to learn everything and anything that’s new. We show our appreciation and love openly and abundantly. We say what we feel and then move on with no grudges or hardships toward others. Our honesty leads the way and our good natured spirit keeps us ground. We share our infectious bright beaming smile to everyone we see. And best of all, every hour, every minute, every second is lived to its fullest; we live as if there’s no tomorrow.
Somewhere along the way, as we grew up, we lost some of those shining traits. If we can somehow remember what it felt like to be that child and apply it to our daily routine, then we can say that we are truly living. It’s easy, it doesn’t take much to regain back those redeeming qualities, we just have to be willing to try. So the best way to living our lives is to get back to the fundamentals.
You’re Grounded! Write Me A Story!
The other day as I was walking through the local mall, I saw a mother unabashedly scolding her son. He looked like he was about 9 or 10 years of age and completely embarrassed by the staring eyes of the mall’s patrons.
When the mother’s tirade ended, she forcefully grabbed her son’s arm and stormed away. This scene was reminiscent of my childhood and all I could think of was what was in store for the boy when he gets home.
I remembered whenever I did something bad, my parents would give me a good scolding and ground me. “YOU CAN’T GO OUT AND PLAY AND NO TV FOR A WEEK!” is what my mom usually bellowed. Back in my time, this was painful; I didn’t have the luxuries that the kids have nowadays.
Being “grounded” meant just staying in my room doing nothing. At that time there were no such things as cable TV, cellphones or video games. All that I could do to pass the time away was listen to AM radio stations (because there weren’t any FM at that time).
Now whenever I did something “REALLY” bad, like playing with matches and burning things, I got a healthy dose of spankings. My mother would get “the belt” and teach me an unforgettable lesson.
Please don’t think bad of my mom; she’s the most kindest and caring person in the world. Some of the terrible things I did as a young boy were REALLY BAD…trust me. Remember, I grew up in a time when this was perfectly acceptable or “PC.” Your neighbors and even teachers were allowed to do the same if you got way out of line…boy how times have changed.
As I was growing up, I wondered how I would discipline my children if they ever did something bad. Well, cut to present day…as a parent of two, I decided to go the unconventional route.
When my children were young and did something bad, I made them write me a story and then read it to me and my wife.
“Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just write me a story” is what I would tell them.
“What do you want us to write about?” my children would reply.
My answer, “Anything! Just write me a story!”
For some unknown reason, this punishment really stressed them out. Secretly I think that they would have rather been scolded or grounded.
For the longest time, they would stare at a blank page and wrack their brains to come up with anything. Their stories were simple at first but in time, they got to be more and more creative. Their speaking skills improved as well.
Don’t get me wrong, they still got a good scolding if they did something really bad but I felt that I wanted to try and bring out their creativity at an early age.
This punishment benefitted them during their early school years and were recognized by their teachers whenever we had our annual parent-teacher conference.
Now that my kids are teenagers, this punishment is way too easy for them. I need to come up with a whole new game plan. Maybe I’ll make them come up with a dance choreography…yeah, I’ll do that!
A Bike For All Ages
In the town of Panville, there lived a young boy named Skylar. He was no ordinary boy…he was a PAPERBOY!
You’re thinking, “What’s so great about that?!” Well, it’s not the fact that he was a paperboy that was so amazing, but HOW he delivered the newspapers.
The whole neighborhood would watch and wait for Skylar to ride by on his “Commodore” bike.
You could tell the bike was old. Rust spots here and there, chipped paint, dings and dents were the things that gave Commodore character. And when Skylar rode it, they moved as one. It was pure magic.
Skylar could do things on his bike that others only dreamed of. He was able to jump over tall fences, spin in mid-air and move around obstacles with ease. When delivering newspapers, people would watch and be amazed at his spectacular riding performance.
The people on his route would always marvel at his feats.
Mrs. Smith enjoyed when Skylar hopped on one wheel over her rose garden and throw the paper right on her doorstep.
Mr. Payne clapped loudly whenever Skylar did a somersault over his fish pond and handed him the paper.
Little Suzie would cheer every time Skylar soared over her like a bird.
There was nothing that Skylar and his Commodore bike couldn’t do.
One day while on his route, he noticed a new family moving into his neighborhood. As the people unloaded their things, he saw a boy off to the side unpacking a long rectangular box with the name Quicksilver on it.
This caught Skylar’s attention, so he continued to watch the boy.
Out of the box came a shiny silver bike. The boy hopped on it and took off down the street. He whizzed by Skylar so fast that he was almost a blur. Skylar was truly impressed.
A few seconds later, the boy returned and skidded to a stop next to Skylar.
“Hi, I’m Frankie. What’s yours?” said the new boy.
Skylar stared at Frankie’s Quicksilver and then looked at his Commodore bike; he felt embarrassed.
Frankie asked “Hey, wanna race?”
Knowing how fast Frankie could ride, Skylar declined.
“Then how’s about we play follow the leader?” said Frankie.
Skylar thought that was something he could easily do. “Sure why not” he replied.
“Great, I’ll go first. Follow me” said Frankie.
The two boys took off with Frankie in the lead.
Up one street, down another. Around one block, then another and another. Skylar pedaled hard and fast but was not able to keep up with Frankie’s Quicksilver.
Frankie was so far ahead that Skylar simply gave up.
Skylar looked at his Commodore, “Why can’t you be fast like that! You’re old, I need a new bike. Maybe a new one like Quicksilver.” With that, he rode home.
Bright and early the next morning, Skylar leaped out of bed and made dash for his piggy bank. Just then, Skylar’s mom popped her head into his room, “What’re you doing?”
“I’m going to buy a new bike.”
“What’s wrong with the one you have now?” asked his mom.
Skylar answered firmly, “It’s not a Quicksilver.”
“Do you have enough saved up?” asked his mom.
“YES!” Skylar exclaimed.
“Okay then, I’ll take you down to the bike shop.”
“Thanks” said Skylar who was busy counting his money.
A few hours later, Skylar came down the street on his brand new Quicksilver. He saw Frankie and rode up to him.
“Hey, you got a bike just like mine” said Frankie.
“Yeah, isn’t that great! Now I can go just as fast as you. Wanna play follow the leader?” Skylar said in eagerness.
“Sure” responded Frankie.
“Okay, but this time…I’ll lead” Skylar extolled.
The two boys took off down the street and up another. Around one block, then another and another.
Skylar could not believe the speed of Quicksilver. He was truly excited. After a fun-filled day of follow the leader, Skylar went home.
He pulled into his garage and parked Quicksilver next to Commodore. He patted Quicksilver’s seat and said, “Boy, I’m glad I got you. You’re fast, can’t wait to use you on my route tomorrow.”
As night fell, the two bikes came alive.
Commodore moved closer to Quicksilver. “Hi I’m Commodore, what’s your name?”
Quicksilver moved away and answered in a fast paced tone. “Be careful…vroom, vroom, vroom…I don’t want any dirt on my new paint.”
“You sure move fast” Commodore noted.
“You bet…vroom, vroom, vroom.”
“Guess that’s why Skylar likes you. Can you do any tricks?” inquired Commodore.
“Who needs to do trick when you can move like me…vroom, vroom, vroom” said Quicksilver.
“I guess you’ll be able to help Skylar finish his paper route in no time. No wonder he wanted you” Commodore said in a sad tone.
“Yep…vroom, vroom, vroom…I was built for speed. Now if you don’t mind I need my rest so I can have energy to go fast tomorrow.”
“Oh okay. Good night” and with that a depressed Commodore moved back to his spot.
The next day came and Skylar burst into the garage with a bag full of newspapers. He carefully got onto Quicksilver, making sure not to scratch the paint.
“All right, I’ll finish my route in no time. This’ll be great!”
With that, off he went. VROOM, VROOM, VROOM, SWOOSH. Wind blowing in his face, hair flapping wildly about. Skylar liked the feeling of going fast.
The neighborhood knew it was time and waited anxiously for Skylar’s arrival.
SWOOSH! Skylar came charging down the street and readied the papers for his neighbors. Along the way, he noticed something different but couldn’t quite figure out what it was.
As he approached Mrs. Smith’s house, he tried to leap over her rose garden but Quicksilver would not budge.
CRUNCH! Quicksilver travelled so fast that it flattened Mrs. Smith’s rose garden and caused Skylar to send her newspaper crashing through her window.
Mrs. Smith was shocked, “OH NO! MY PRECIOUS FLOWERS!”
Skylar was moving so fast that he could not stop to apologize.
He sped onto his next destination: Mr. Payne.
“Vroom, vroom, vroom” was the only sound coming from Quicksilver.
“Something’s wrong” noted Skylar as he drew closer to Mr. Payne’s fish pond.
“Time to do our somersault over the fish pond” thought Skylar, “Don’t mess up.”
No good. SPLASH! Skylar and Quicksilver went through the fish pond, dowsing Mr. Payne with water and hitting him in the head with the paper in the process.
Mr. Payne rubbed his bruised head and in shock ran towards his pond, “OH NO! MY POOR FISH!”
Skylar was too far away and moving way too fast to say sorry.
Skylar soon thought to himself, “This is not going well. I’d better stop and walk the rest of my route before I wreck something else.”
He applied the brakes but Quicksilver would not stop. He tried again and again and again but nothing happened. It’s as if Quicksilver had a mind of its own.
“Why won’t you stop?!” wondered Skylar.
The only sound coming from Quicksilver was “Vroom, vroom, vroom!”
Skylar and Quicksilver sped down the street and was soon coming upon little Suzie’s house.
Suzie was waving at Skylar in total excitement, “Yea, Skylar’s coming! Yea!”
“Holy cow!” exclaimed a worried Skylar. He frantically pressed on the brake REAL HARD but nothing happened.
Quicksilver raced towards little Suzie.
“Vroom, vroom, vroom!”
He motioned to Suzie and yelled “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” but she was too busy cheering to hear. She was in real danger.
As he fast approached little Suzie, Skylar needed to take action. His eyes scanned the area for an answer to his problem.
“THAT’S IT!” Skylar barely managed to avoid hitting little Suzie by veering into a small stone wall.
“VROOM, VROOM, VROOM!”
As the wall fast approached, Skylar held onto the bike’s handle bars and propped his on the seat. He readied himself for impact.
“Get ready, five…four…three…two…one…” he leaped off. KA-BLAM! Quicksilver crashed into the wall as Skylar soared into the air like a bird.
KER-PLASH! He landed square into a neighbor’s swimming pool.
Little Suzie ran and peered over the wall, “WOW, THAT WAS NEAT! DO IT AGAIN! DO IT AGAIN!”
“No thanks, once was enough for me” sighed a drenched Skylar. He hopped over the wall and took in the sight of his once brand new Quicksilver bike.
Pieces of it lay all over. One tire here, another tire there, handle bar bent, pedals broken off, bike chain lodged in crack of the wall and seat hanging on a nearby shrub.
In the middle of all this mess, lay a scratched up and warped frame.
Skylar shakes his head and gathers up what was once Quicksilver. He trudges back home.
“What a day, I’m beat.” Tired from a long day of chaos, Skylar tosses Quicksilver’s parts into the garage next to Commodore and goes into the house.
Commodore beheld this sight “OH NO, WHAT HAPPENED?!”
“I just wanted to go fast but Skylar wanted me to do things that I didn’t want to do. Like hop over a garden or somersault in the air or even jump high up” said a weary Quicksilver.
“I wasn’t meant to do that” Quicksilver said.
“But those are some of the best things and most exciting things to do” replied Commodore.
“Not for me it isn’t” said Quicksilver, “my biking days are through, I had enough excitement for one day.”
The next day came and Skylar appeared in the garage with his sack of newspapers. He took a moment to look at what was left of Quicksilver.
“Man, I only had you for a day and now you’re all busted and broken. I could go fast with you but I don’t know why I couldn’t do anything else. Where’s the fun in that?!”
Skylar then took a long hard look at Commodore. “I had you for years and years and was able to do a lot of tricks. You made my paper route fun. I knew what I could do with you, guess I should’ve stuck with you all along. I’ll never make that same mistake again.”
And with that, Skylar and Commodore ventured out of the garage ready to perform their acrobatic routine for the neighbors once again.