The Music of My People, Children

When I get old and my grandkids are in their early teens visiting as I sit in my chair staring off into space, I’m going to just start randomly mumbling Kid Rock and Korn lyrics to make them think I’ve lost my mind.

“Bawitdaba, da bang, da bang diggy diggy, diggy, said the boogie, said up jump the boogie.”

“Boom na da noom na na nema, Da boom na da noom na namena, Da boom na ba noom na namena, Da boom na da noom na namena…”

I can only pray that it happens at a family gathering with my cousins and brothers who would hopefully join in to make the kids think we all lost it at once.

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It’s A Boy!

On June 22nd at 10:34 PM, David Maxwell Grierson was born. In a previous blog post, I mentioned that on the day my daughter was born, I read to her Genesis 1 and I had yet to decide what I would read to my next child. Up until he was born, I still had no idea. After a few hours of sleep, I held my son in my arms and I knew.

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Genesis 2 on what was technically the day after he was born, but seriously, it wasn’t even 10 hours later. It may have been even less than 9 hours later.

Genesis 2 was what I read to him hours after he was born. It seemed appropriate. Second child, second chapter. First son, first man. Somehow, nothing could be more appropriate. And so I held him and I read.

It’s been an adjustment. My daughter tries to be helpful, but she’s not old enough to understand how her “helpfulness” is actually problematic. My poor wife only gets an hour to three hours of sleep a night. I started a new job so I need to make sure I get my sleep so I can perform to support my family. We’re breastfeeding (well, she is…it’d be kinda weird if I was breastfeeding) so it’s not like I would be much help when he wakes up hungry anyways. I try to help out in other ways though. My new job has much better hours, so I’m actually home for more hours than when I’m just sleeping so I pick up slack in the areas of laundry, dishes, and helping with the toddler. Trust me, trying to teach a two year old proper toy organization is hard when they don’t grasp that the toy hot dog does not go with the toy dairy; it goes with the toy fish and toy hamburger.

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Seriously, three year olds back in the day were expected to sort berries. Why can’t my near two year old separate fish and milk on the toy shelf? I swear, if she’s not programming a VCR by the time she’s five, it’s back to the womb with her.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-DIG-nclc-00791

Kidding aside, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I wouldn’t change a thing. My wife may wish I produced milk, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

What’s the Real Story?

A few days ago as I stood in line at the grocery store, I glanced over at the rack of magazines and saw something hilarious. There was a picture of Jared from Subway looking sad and underneath it said in plain black letters, “Jared beaten up in prison.” But then, right below it in larger bright pink letters, “PLUS: HE’S GAINED 30 LBS!” You can tell where the media feels our priorities lie. On one hand, you have the spokesman for a healthier society who was shown to be an active pedophile and now he’s getting beaten up for it in prison. A stark warning to anybody who considers committing the unspeakable crimes. On the other hand, you have the story about how the guy who lost all the weight at Subway is getting fat again. What’s the bigger story?

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“Holy shit! The Subway guy gained 30 lbs. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!”

I looked at some of the articles online and many of them talked about how he eats cakes for breakfast and the other junk he’s consuming with only brief mention of the assault. The story that’s being reported is less about a pedophile getting his ass kicked and more about a pedophile on his way to diabetes. The reporting that’s been done (from what I’ve seen) has clearly been less on the actual news and more about making people feel better about themselves. I can imagine some poor obese person whom Jared once gave hope but could never achieve the weight loss saying aloud, “HA! That’s what you get for making me feel fat. Now who’s the fatty!?”

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It’s still you.

And that’s how I realized why magazines are still around this in this day and age. Bullshit headlines for bullshit stories to makes us feel better for few minutes as we laugh at someone else’s expense, even when the actual story is almost totally ignored. You might point out that it’s typical for tabloids and celebrity magazines to have headlines along the lines of, “Look who got fat!” and you would be right, but the difference here is that there is an actual big story and it all gets glossed over. If there is a silver lining to all of this it is this; if you’re famous and you commit some horrible crime, just get fat and it may overshadow every terrible thing you’ve ever done.

Repentless Child

Last evening as I sat down at the computer to do a few things before playing Yahtzee with my wife, my two and a half year old daughter ran up to me exclaiming, “Daddy, daddy! Play some music.” Being the totally responsible parent that I am, I obliged and put on some Judas Priest. I was initially disappointed when she told me “Daddy, I don’t like this one,” as Judas Priest is my favorite band. Worried, that I was going to have to disown her, she surprised me when she pointed at my screen and said, “Daddy, I want to play that one.” She was too far away for me to see exactly what she was pointing at so I picked her up and brought her close enough to point directly to it. When I asked her what one she wanted again, she placed her finger on the screen and said that one. It was Slayer’s newest album.

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You can really see the childlike appeal.

“Slayer?” I asked.

“Yeah! I love Slayer!” she exclaimed with great delight.

Despite having never used the Amazon music player before nor ever seen me use it, my daughter deftly grabbed the mouse that was on the desk, moved the curser over the album cover to reveal the PLAY button and pressed it. Immediately, the soothing tones of Slayer’s Implode came bursting out of my computer’s speakers. With a squeal of glee, my daughter got down on the floor and began thrashing about like a true metal head. Normally, I wouldn’t allow her to listen to Slayer, but the sheer hilarity of it all coupled with the fact that my daughter picked and seemed to genuinely enjoy good music, I decided to allow her in this instance. Following with the song Repentless, she ran back and forth screaming with a psychotic giddiness as her arms flailed in the air. Truly this was my child.

This morning as we got ready for church, my daughter politely informed me, “I want some Slayer, Dada.” Sorry Olive, but I’m not turning the computer on as I get us ready for Church just so you can listen to Slayer. In the car, my wife decided to put on some Gangnam Style to make the ride more enjoyable. Olive was whole unimpressed and appeared to be quite disappointed in us. I feigned mild disappointment but deep down, I was proud of my little girl.

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Too imature for a two year old, yet adults everywhere were mesmerized for a year straight.

After Church, we visited some of my wife’s good friends. My daughter somehow managed to quickly find the CDs in their house which is amusing because we almost never use CDs, so I’m not fully sure where she picked on the fact that these discs play music. Kids will always manage to surprise you, I suppose. When one of the girls of the house asked what she was doing, my daughter politely responded with, “I want to listen to Slayer.”

The poor girl was taken aback, as if she didn’t know what to say. “Slayer?” she managed to get out.

“Yeah!” said my child. “I love Slayer!”

Now, I don’t believe this family had any Slayer. They seemed like an earthy bunch and earthy people can’t stand Slayer. Not really sure why, but I suspect that when the sky rains blood, it isn’t very good for the plants. Anyhow, Olive kept asking this poor family to play Slayer for some time. Eventually, they were able to get her off the subject and have a delightful afternoon with the lass.

I still have much work to do in teaching my child of good music, but the Slayer incident has given me hope. There is a ray of sunshine that says I may not have to put up with the latest boy band or vapid pop singer in twelve or so years, but may instead be treated to the classics of my own youth, or at the very least, bands that don’t suck.

G.I. Joe Made Me Afraid of Refrigerators

Growing up in the eighties, we had access to some of the best cartoons ever. G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so on. On most of the programs I watched, there was a public service announcement (or PSA) at the end of every episode. These usually involved things like, “Stealing is wrong,” “Don’t do drugs,” or “Playing with matches is dangerous.” To me, most of these seemed quite obvious, but there was one that made me terrified of refrigerators for years. Basically, a group of kids were trying to find their friend, John. A G.I. Joe named Recondo just happens to be walking through and asks what’s going on. The children explain the situation and Recondo looks over to see an old refrigerator, and immediately assumes he’s in there (and he was right). Opening the door, Recondo finds John suffocating. The PSA never explains why John was in the fridge; we’re simply left to make our own assumptions about what led to this event.

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What the hell was he even doing in there? The world will never know.

You see, growing up when I did, I had no concept of a latching refrigerator. Every refrigerator I had ever seen and used worked the same way we do today. Open the door, get what you need, and when you close it the suction keeps it closed. Simple as that. I had no knowledge that a few decades prior, refrigerators were held closed by a latch that was released when you pulled the handle. When the door was closed, the latch simply fell back into place. And the time when I was growing up was when it more and more common for these refrigerators to be discarded.

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Beware! It’s lust for blood holds no boundries.

Once I saw that PSA, I knew that every time I went for food, I was playing a dangerous game, risking my life for a glass of milk or a delicious strawberry. I would swing the door open as wide as I could, grab what I needed, and leap out of the way before it would close. It wasn’t until sometime later that I decided to get over my fears once and for all. One day when my friend Rob was over and my mother hadn’t done the grocery shopping yet, I decided to take out the shelves and get in the fridge. I told him if I started banging on the door to open it up. So I got and he closed the door. Once sealed inside, I pushed the door back open with ease. I was elated. Refrigerators weren’t dangerous at all. Those guys on G.I. Joe were so stupid. What else were they wrong about? Downed power cables? Swimming in lightning storms? Surely if they had the refrigerator thing wrong, they must be wrong about other things too. Or maybe, they had teamed up with parents for some scare tactics. Contacting childrens cartoons to make kids obey sounds just like the sort of thing parents would do.

It was a few years later when I actually learned about latching refrigerators. Suddenly the PSA made a lot more sense to me. Thankfully, I never did get injured pushing againts the warnings of other PSAs, though I think I did go swimming in a lightning storm. That is until I saw a tree nearby. As we all know, lightnight loves trees and trees love water.

 

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Look at it there, waiting to kill.

I Fancied a Barbie Once

I had a Barbie doll once. I’d actually asked my mother for one. I wasn’t queer or effeminate or anything. The other side just had something that I didn’t and I wanted to know what the deal was. All the girls had them and seemed to love them, so clearly there was something cool about them and I was determined to find out what it was.

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It’s gotta be the shopping for accessories. Look at those pants!

So when I got one, I took it with me totally unashamed. In a time when being either a nerd or having a Barbie doll would get your ass kicked, I incredibly made it through unscathed as I was both was a nerd and carried a Barbie. Perhaps it was my gaze that kept people from taunting and dolling out endless wedgies. As I combed her hair and changed her outfits, my look was not one of joy and amusement but one of science and determination.

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FOR SCIENCE!

Alas, through all my study, I never discovered the joy that could be had in Barbies or dolls in general. Disinterested and unamused, the doll went to the wayside. I honestly don’t recall doing anything else with it, though I feel as though I would’ve had much more joy with it had I decapitated the damn thing. In fact, I hope I did, though I cannot say for certain whether I did or not.

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And totally would’ve been at the hands of Storm Shadow.

With a second child on the way, if it turns out to be a boy whom I shall teach manly things, I worry about the time when he too yearns to decapitate Barbie dolls. For my daughter loves dolls and even has a Barbie. How shall I react when the time comes to wrestle with my desire to defend my daughter from terror and horror and my delight in destruction of all things not manly. Oh, the struggles we must face as parents.

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Like “Should I put that money towards my child’s education or build that life size replica of Abe Lincoln out of ravioli.” What would make Jesus more proud? Does he even like ravioli or does he prefer tuna?

Oh God!

A week or so ago, we as a family were sitting down to a dinner. As it was, we happened to be consuming pizza. As we were eating, my wife and I were discussing our day as our daughter sat in her high chair eating her portion. As my wife conversed, we suddenly heard loudly from the direction of our child, “Oh God!”

We stopped suddenly and looked at each other, eyes wide with shock. I could tell by looking at my wife that she was thinking the same thing as I was. Our thoughts were, “Oh no! Our daughter must have heard one of us in some moment of frustration saying something we ought not say.” It was a perfectly reasonable thought. Everyone says things they wish they didn’t when they’re mad or frustrated and I don’t exactly have the most delicate tongue when I am such a state. This isn’t an excuse for any sinful actions I may incur; I’m merely just pointing out how sometimes our sin gets the better of us and sometimes we show more than we desire to.

Anyhow, when we turned and looked to our daughter, we were pleasantly surprised. There she was with her head down, eyes closed, and hands clasped, continuing her prayer. After the forcefully loud words of, “Oh God!,” we here the much softer words of, “Mama and dada,” and then a few seconds of silence. Before we could get an “Awww,” in, however, there was another boisterous, “Oh God!” followed a more normal toned, “the pizza. Amen.”

It was sweet, really it was. Though I realize I need to take better mind of my own tongue. Considering how loud the, “Oh God!” was compared to everything else in the prayer, I’ve little doubt that she must heard me exclaim it in frustration at some point. However, considering her use, I must presume that she saw it as some form of prayer.

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A very powerful prayer…

It reminds me of that certain amount of innocence in a child. There’s something really special about that. I’ve always stated I wanted to raise my children to be better than myself. This is a good reminder that although I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve at least got them started on the right path and that I need to make sure I don’t wander too much myself lest I lead them astray.

Picking Scripture

When my daughter was born, I held her in my arms and read chapter one of Genesis to her. It was a touching moment and something I had pledged to do long before she was born. It just somehow seemed appropriate.

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Genesis 1 on the day she was born.

Yet now with a second child a mere six or seven months away, I want to do the same thing but I have yet to figure out what I shall chose for him or her.

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Really hoping I don’t find some years down the road that the appropriate scripture should’ve been Revelation 13.

I suppose this presents me with a good opportunity to buckle down on scripture, something I’ve been neglecting a bit lately. It’s interesting to see how these little nudges come when they’re needed. Now, I’m not saying it’s some cosmic force that’s pushing me into immersing myself into the scriptures when I really need it. It could be mere coincidence. I’m not willing to assign happenings to God based on a feeling. That would put me in dangerously close proximity to the false prophets camp.

Anyhow, any suggestions would be great. This being my second child, I would like to pick something that would be appropriate. With my first, I started with the beginning and since I don’t think this will be my last, I don’t think I should pick something near the end. I’ve always been quite partial to the story of Joseph in Genesis and the book of Mark if you’re looking for an idea of my tastes.

I’m Drinkin’ Beer

My little brother was only a few months old, so that means I was eight and in the second grade. Mary, my babysitter and best friend’s mom had a film crew over that day to film a commercial for her daycare. They were recording us throughout the day to get good shots for the commercial. Mary had the incredible task of caring for a large group of children while carrying my little brother around and filming a commercial all at the same time. I got special mention in the commercial as I was the first kid she took care of which started the whole daycare thing. If you think I didn’t use that special mention to my fullest potential, then you’ve got another thing coming.

Mary had a small bar in the kitchen surrounded by stools. It was snack time and kids were running round with their sugar biscuits having the fun that only small children can have with a sugar biscuit. Me, I was just calmly sitting at the bar drinking my cup of apple juice and minding my own business. This being a fairly quiet part of the room, Mary had brought the camera crew over do some talking about the daycare. She was holding my little brother and said something to the effect of, “This is Brad’s little brother. Now Brad was the first child I took care of.” Those weren’t the exact words, but that was the basic gist of it.

Anyhow, as the camera panned down to me, I turned and looked right into the camera. With a big confident smile, I raised my clear plastic cup full of a golden-yellow apple juice high above my head and proudly proclaimed, “I’m drinkin’ Beer!”

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Beer, apparently.

I believe Mary choked on the air. Incredibly, she did not drop my little brother.

Anyhow, the rest of the commercial was filmed throughout the day and I believe they wisely kept me away from the camera if I recall correctly. My grand scene did not make the final cut that aired on TV, but I do believe that Mary does have an unedited copy of it somewhere. I should see if I can get a hold of that.