Monday, May 25, 2015

Bad parenting



Dinner with friends

“Where are we going?”

“What time?”

“You’re allergic to seafood?  I didn’t know that”

“Okay, let’s do the seafood place; they also have chicken and steak”

And off we go

With the early half of us waiting in the bar for the late half to arrive

So we can get a table and

Settle in

To talk about work and home improvements and finally

Kids

The conversation always seems to turn to kids

“How are they?”

“What are they doing this summer?”

And then one woman speaks up

And says—not joking

“Okay, tell about a time when you were a bad parent”

And we look at each other and someone goes

“Well that’s easy”

And the stories begin to flow …

I was with my son in a food court—not really paying attention—when I noticed one of the tines had broken off his plastic fork.  He’d swallowed it

I pushed my daughter’s swing too hard and off to one side, and she hit the support post of the swing set

A good number of tales—cringe-worthy; more than you might expect

We laugh; it’s easy to laugh about these things now

They happened so long ago

But with each story, there’s a trace of guilt; you can see it

Feel it

There’s clear evidence we’ve been bad parents …


And then after dinner

Standing off in the corner with another dad

He looks at me and says, “You know, I’ve got a lot of bad-parent stories, but I’ve also got a lot of good ones”

I smile and say, “Me too”

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The classroom at the end of the hall



45 minutes before the funeral, I decided to go for a walk

Down the first-floor hallway, past bulletin boards and classrooms and turning left to see an old familiar stairway

With gray steps

And a solid railing

Something good to hold on to on a day like today

And making my way up two half-flights

And realizing I used to be quicker than this, much quicker

And coming out into another hallway that felt as familiar as any room in my childhood home

A place frozen in time from all those Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights of long ago

And knowing now why my feet had taken this path …


Moving toward the last classroom at the end of the hall

Except it wasn’t a classroom anymore

It was a storage area for AV equipment

And pausing at the doorway before going in, before placing a hand on the TV stand at the front of the room

In this hallowed space

In this space where Mom had stood and talked about Noah and the Judges and the 12 Apostles

And of Jesus

And I, and who knows how many other kids, had sat right there

Learning about God, learning to love Him

And here I was again, feeling like I was back in third grade

Weeping

Because my teacher was gone, and I missed her

And for just a few minutes, holding tightly to the memories before heading back down to the place where everybody was waiting

Feeling sad, very sad

But also grateful for the woman, and the church, who raised me.

Marilyn Jean McCluggage Allen