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Monday, June 25, 2012

When I get really busy, I stare at this long enough that people think I am looney and do my work for me.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Walk like a man - Decisions on circumcision

I missed out on a lot of classic decision-making when I married a woman who brought four children with her.

Though I made it in time to be in on the ear-piercing discussion and the baptism discussion, I was too late to make any contribution/decision/lecture on the issue of circumcision. What was done was done. Whether I had an opinion on the matter didn’t matter in the slightest.

It was rather like me blogging my opinion on last year’s spring; I can talk about it all I like, but spring has sprung, and what I think about springing is neither interesting nor relevant and, coming after the fact, leans towards the whiny.

However, when my daughter gave birth to our grandson, it occurred to me that I may actually have a say on the issue of circumcision by the very fact I would be in the room.

I have been trying to be a better dad for several months now — grandfathering is grandfathered into fatherhood — and being a better dad, in this instance, involves me being … involved.

I started to sneak a little study time to research the issue so that when I was asked for my opinion — as I inevitably would be — my very expression of knowledge, my factual tone, my sheer dad and grampa-ness would convey the authority of a man who knows.

I started with the New Testament. Rather, I ended with it.  I studied it last year for church, so I spent an hour with my old books as a refresher.

First off, all the circumcision talk in the Bible, as far as I can tell, doesn’t mean what I thought it meant. There is no religious teaching that encourages or discourages circumcision except as an extension of the Law of Moses or in the writings of Paul where he teaches that Christian converts do not have to first become Jews before they could be Christians.

Most times when it was mentioned, I took it to mean “Are you committed or not committed?”

I stopped collecting secular statistics after a short time because it seemed counterproductive. It was a draw as far as learned doctors were concerned. No one would recommend it globally, nor would anyone recommend prohibiting the practice.

Here is what I know. As far as the world goes (World Health Organization that is,) estimates are that 30 percent of males on the planet today are circumcised. In the United States the practice is more common at 70 percent. The western region is lower than the rest of the U.S., and is the most significantly changing of all U.S. regions, decreasing 30 percent from 61 percent in 1980 to 31 percent in 2003.

Circumcision is not a teaching of my church, where it is taught that it was part of the old Law of Moses, something we don’t practice today.

In a last shot at objectivity, I cornered my grandson’s pediatrician, Dr. Alba of Alpine Pediatrics, who has three daughters. He told me that when he has a son, he will have the surgery performed. Based on his experience, Utah was definitely on the side of circumcision.

I prepared my pen and pad for words of pediatric wisdom from a doctor who was not only of my faith but of my neighborhood. He was the guy next door … well, down and to the left.

Here is the word he gave me: preference. The bottom line is that having this surgical procedure done is a matter of parental preference.

His attending nurse, Judy, expanded a bit. "It's about what looks like every other guy in the shower after football -- if you can get them to shower after football. Guys want to be the same in that department.

So, I attempted to think like my grandson coming home after a hard day at work in the presidential Oval Office, dealing with all things governmental. He sets his briefcase down, loosens his tie and hops in the shower. What is he thinking?

Probably not about what happened in a sunny pediatrician’s office four weeks into his earth life.

So, if he doesn’t care, and neither the World Health Organization nor his church care, why not save him the pain and his grandmother's $450 and buy him a binky for now and a New Testament and a “newcomer’s guide to Washington D.C.” for when he gets older?

Studies finished, and with all this in mind, I prepared my speech — my first real grandpa speech — spiced with clever thoughts, a statistic (the 30-percent one I thought was good) and a scripture.

As luck would have it, before I could even prepare for my chance at the proverbial pulpit, my grandson was put through the procedure. His mother, grandmother and maybe even a rogue aunt had already convened, determined and written out the check.

Chagrined, I smiled, and wrote down a few suggestions for cabinet posts for when my grandson's older. Maybe I can influence that decision.

Until then, I may have to rethink my whole idea of fatherhood, leadership, words of wisdom and making decisions that really have an effect on the lives of my family.

Or, at very least, making those decisions faster.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dads -- Protecting the world from aliens since about ten minutes ago

My grandchild, Cameron, is afraid that the mother ship has locked onto his personal signature in the space-time continuum and, if he lets his lazy eye roll, it will zap him into space.

Cameron now will not go outside to play unless he carries around a leafy tree branch to obscure his presence on the planet.

My grandson learns these “life lessons” from my son Grey, who tells everyone that he inherited his ailing sense of humor from me. He is being kind, because I didn’t do much with him as a kid. Most of the fun he had as a child was with his grandpa Anton.
An umbrella blocks the signal

The only thing I did that ranks as semi-funny (that anyone remembers) was telling Grey as a child that clapping his hands and calling out for any lost object would make said lost object appear.

He still, to his wife’s chagrin, walks around the house clapping and calling out for his car keys.
This month the trouble is with aliens — the aliens that will get you if you don't eat your vegetables or your chicken nuggets, or fail to control your lazy eye.

Many of Grey's funnies truly make me chortle. Like when a stuffed raccoon came to life on his hand and chased Cameron around the house until I put the stuffed animal in jail under a laundry basket.

Personally, I don’t mind jokes played on kids — when there is a relationship established. I just haven't been so good at establishing those healthy relationships in the past.

Frankly, in my heart of hearts, I am OK with a startled grand-kid or two because it allows me to come in to save the day.

I begin saving the day by telling Cameron that the aliens don’t exist, that his daddy just made them up to get him to eat right, or go to bed on time, or to look straight forward.
Cameron nodded his head and smiled wanly, but wouldn’t take off his camo hat/poncho combo that he decorated with leaves and twigs. Strike one for Grampa.

Next day I tried something different — what I call the “rainbow pony tactic,” --  where everything is nice. I told Cameron that aliens weren’t bad. I told him that they made the stars glow pretty at night and that was the extent of their control over mankind. As luck would have it, that evening Cameron walked in on the rest of the family engrossed in a "Chupacabra from Space" movie on the Scare-To-Death channel.

When I screamed like a little girl, as I am want to do from time to time, Cameron’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and he would only use monosyllabic words like “run,” “hide,” and one his dad swears to have no idea where Cameron picked it up.

Strike two for Grampa.

So I told him the truth as I would like it to be — the truth I am trying to establish. And the truth is this — aliens can't get you at Grampa's house.

Time for the big guns. Big guns require some kind of relationship established between parties — some kind of commitment, like “I will be there for you,” or “I will not let the bad guys ever get you.” Or more simply, “You can count on me.”

Maybe that’s why he doesn’t believe me when I try to disarm the influence of aliens. I haven’t been there much to counter their attacks.
Scaries don’t like grandmas and grandpas because they know that grandparents have been around long enough to tan the hide of any space invader, zombie or chupacabra.

Now when Grey comes home with a new scam he had pulled on our grandson, I pull Cameron into a corner and let him know that he is safe because he's at Grampa's house.

They have to go through me first.

Once we get this alien thing worked out, his grandmother is going to teach Cameron how to throw a solid defensive right to the chin — just in case he meets up with a real scary in an ally or at a Ute game.

When Cameron comes over and wants to go outside, I will get my umbrella and we will go for a walk. I’ll make sure that he is under a large tree, or that there is sufficient cover to obscure his presence on the planet.

Grampa throws a mighty large shadow.