Monday, September 17, 2012

Game over, I think not...

The reason why I have been so long in writing is the very subject I am writing about today.

It has been said, "Kids say the darndest things."  Teaching sixth graders has taught me that that saying is very much true.  Today, out of the blue a kid at the front of the class raised his hand in the middle of my lecture.  I of course called on him because I knew he was going to ask me to expound on some brilliant thing had I said or help guide him to the promised land of education bliss...I was wrong.

"Mr. Wood," the student said.  "Yes," I unwittingly replied.  "I bet I know what you said when you got married," he strangely asked.  "What's that?" I said.  "Game over," he said with a smile.

I then went into an almost frustration laced rant about how marriage is not like that.  At least it's not supposed to be like that.  Mine isn't.  To stick with the gaming analogy, I got a "one up" when I married Karen.  I can honestly say that my life is better for Karen.  Let's go back in time, and you don't even have to get up to 88 miles an hour.

Before Karen and I had started dating, I had grown tired of the dating game.  I mean, from a guy's point of view, it is a lot of money, effort and time.  So, I did what so many guys should have done, I swore off dating.  I didn't go on any dates for about a year and then a friend of mine set up a group date or outing, whatever you want to call it.  I didn't want to go, told him I didn't want to go, but the plan went on and I was there...with a stipulation I had made with myself.

Usually, we put our best foot forward on dates when we meet someone for the first time, don't we?  We hide that person that has our true personality.  The person that has that "different" sense of humor doesn't come along on the date.  So, our date doesn't get the real us.  He or she doesn't get who we truly are.  This time, let's just say the real me asked to go and I said, "OK."

After a pretty good night, I found myself walking Karen back to her car since it was dark and before I knew it, I was asking if it was OK to call her.  That was twelve years ago this month and I have been happy and content ever since.

Now, in response to my student, I would like to tell you some pretty cool things I get from playing the "wedding game."

1.  I get a "Ms. Pac-Man" or a best friend.  Yes, I know some of you are typing your emails right now because you want me to turn in my man-card.  However, I can honestly say that God did a good thing by blessing me with Karen.  No one, and I mean no one gets my sense of humor like Karen does.  I can cut up with her and have a blast doing it.  I don't know how many times I have started a sentence with, "I can tell you this because you're my wife."  If I had a nickel for every "That's what she said" joke we have told to each other, I would be rich.  I have some friends that are guys, but there is no one on this planet that I would rather spend time with than Karen.  Honestly, no lie.  I am serious.  No, she's not reading this while I type.  I promise.  She WILL read it after I post it, I will make sure of it. :)

2.  I get infinite lives.  I am pretty sure that without Karen's knowledge and guidance on some things, my life would be shorter.  At the least, it would not be as fun.  Karen works in the financial industry and I joke a lot that in the corporation that is our family, Karen is CFO and I am CEO.  I can make decisions without her (with her permission of course) but when it comes to our family's finances, the buck stops with her.  She is a guru with our money.  Happy wife, longer life.  Why would I try to do something that she is ultimately better at?

3.  I get power-ups.  I lived by myself for a few years before Karen and me got married.  How can I describe my old house to you?  Let's just say that if someone wanted to give me something for my house, I took it.  I had a green couch that didn't match anything.  I had a cream colored couch that had some kind of flower print all over it.  I also had a suede sectional that was missing legs on one of the pieces.  My house was so mismatched that people thought I did it on purpose.
Our house looks good now.  That whole thing about your house having a "woman's touch," there's something to that.  She has our house looking good and we have a lot of cool stuff.  It is nice for people to come in and say they like the house.  The main thing is when the Playstation 4 comes out, I am pretty sure I can get it because two incomes are a lot better than one.  Priorities people...

4.  I live with a marriage strategy guide.  Growing up, it bugged me that my Daddy would not clean out the sink after he would shave sometimes.  I don't know why, it just did.  So, every time I shave, I make sure to clean it out.  After Karen and I were married for a while, she told me that one of the reasons why she loved me was that I clean out the sink after I shave.  Score!!

Your best tool at a happy marriage is your co-op player.  Have you ever tried to play a two-player game and not talk to each other?  Have you ever played two-player on any of those Lego video games and the other person won't stay with you?  Either way, it stinks and it makes things harder.

Can I vent to you?  I love Karen, but she can't play two-player on Lego Batman or Lego Star Wars without wandering all over the place.  I mean, I am getting killed by every storm trooper alive and she is just running in circles.  Joker is shooting at me and Robin is over in the corner trying to jump on some ladder.  I digress...

5.  I get secret levels.  Do you remember when you found the warp zones on Super Mario and could beat the game in like ten minutes or less?  After we got married, I was able to experience so much more than I would have by myself.  Namely, fatherhood.  My son Brighton is like finding those warp zones over and over again like they were brand new.  Which brings us to why my writing has been so late.

Karen is expecting our second child (that is as scary as it sounds) in March and next month we find out what we're having.  In the Bible when it talks about in Genesis how bad pregnancy is going to be, it's not exaggerating.  She has been sick, real sick.  People have asked me if she has morning sickness.  I tell them yes.  There is a song called, "It's 5 o'clock Somewhere."  Her morning sickness song would be, "It's 7 a.m. Somewhere" because she is sick all the time.  So, I have been helping take up the slack around the house so she can rest when she gets home.  It's hard, but you don't get better at anything by doing nothing.  Blogging has taken a backseat for the time being.

So, to those of you who think marriage is "Game Over," you're wrong.  Instead of "Game Over," you should be saying, "Game On!"  Fatherhood should be the same way.  Becoming a Daddy doesn't make life harder, it makes it more fun.  Remember, even Pac-Man had Pac-Baby.  Remember he would drink the power pellets out of the bottle and be able to eat the ghosts too?  Man, I miss Saturday morning cartoons.

Be the Father God wants you to be and the Daddy your kids need you to be.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Not his first word, but his first bad one...

As hard as it is for some to believe, I don't curse.  I know some of you, think big deal.  However, when I give my students the "no cursing" speech and tell them I don't, they start asking questions.  The main question is, "Why don't you?"  I will tell you the same story I tell them every year.

When I was little, I was sitting at the kitchen table playing with my cars and there was a traffic accident.  As the two imaginary drivers were discussing what happened and my Mama was washing dishes nearby...let's just say the argument got heated and someone called someone a son of  a something.  My Mama turned around fairly quickly and asked me, "What did you just say?"

This was the moment of truth, I could have said nothing.  That was not the case and I repeated those four words.  I got fussed at and Mama marched me to the bathroom to "wash my mouth out."  I had heard people say that many, many times but thought it was only a figure of speech.  I soon learned that there was nothing fake about it.

Mama grabbed a bar of Dial soap and told me to open my mouth.  She put that bar in my mouth made me bite down and then gave my tongue a good scrubbing.  To this day, I can remember exactly what Dial soap tastes like.  Needless to say, it worked and cursing has never been a temptation for me.

Today, my son was walking out of the kitchen when he said a curse word.  He has repeated one before that we couldn't get off the television quick enough.  This was his first one that he used in the right way, I guess.

I then asked him that famous question my Mama asked me so many years ago, "What did you say?"  My son actually did a better job than I did and said, "I don't know, Daddy."  I asked him again and then asked where he heard that word.  His reply, "Out of my mouth."  I said, "No, son, who have you heard say that word?"  His reply, "I did."  We never solved the mystery, but he got a good talk about words we say and words we don't.

Being a good Daddy to me means setting a good example.  The one question my wife and I could answer was that he didn't hear that word in this house from his Mama or Daddy.  We know he is getting to the age where his answers might be, "Well, you do it."

I am a teacher, but most of what we learn as children come from our parents' examples.  That can mean what to do AND what not to do.  I hope my son grows up thinking, "I hope I am like Daddy when I get bigger" and not the other way around.  So many of the children I deal with at school want nothing to do with their fathers.  Just the other day I asked my class what would I be if I didn't spend time with my son and a student gave me her father's name.  Sad, sad, sad.

In our roles as Daddy, we have many jobs and there will be times where we are on the other side of our children's actions.  We have to be that voice of reason and correction that helps him or her grow up into something that the world can be proud of, gosh darn it.  :)