Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hell on Earth: Who Knew it Would Be in My Car?

     I took my kids and my sister, Lori, up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday. Fall is my favorite time of year and with the mountains decorated in hues of gold, pink, and copper, I knew that a mountain outing was just what my stressed soul needed. Upon arriving at Tanner's Flat, we were joined by my sisters-in-law and their families. We came prepared with hot dogs, marshmallows, salad, firewood, hatchet, camp chairs, skewers...and as for my children? ATTITUDE.
     Let's start with Ian. He had a rotten day at church and left the building in tears because his teacher was "mean" to him. I tried to help him understand that when he does what his teacher says, she is nice. When he doesn't keep his hands to himself, then there are consequences. He replied with, "But I didn't want to do what she said!" Hence the problem. This unfortunate church experience set the tone for the rest of the day and Ian never recovered.
     Next is Beka. Normally happy and full of sunshine, she wasn't at her best. To be fair, she did have a bit of a cold and a headache. However, she kept harping on Ian about a pair of sunglasses that he broke several months ago. She wouldn't let it go. And because she wouldn't let it go, Ian couldn't either. The bickering lasted clear into my beautiful autumn mountains.
     Tawni. She was tired. She hardly slept the night before and had to be up early for work. She maintained civility and had a good time on our outing, until she decided it was time to leave. I just love it when my kids tell me what to do and when to do it.
     Zack wasn't too bad. He was pleasant, but couldn't help teasing Ian and Beka, especially when doing so resulted in a glorious outpouring of emotional rage that is fodder to a teenage boy.
     And finally Lori. She was the picture of gloom and doom and couldn't stop worrying about the mounds of homework she had. She even brought it all with her, including a laptop so that she could write a report.
     In spite of my cheerful family members, I was determined to have a good time. And I did. And surprisingly, so did they. Except for Ian. His hard day just kept getting harder. He came decked out in navy seal finery; knife, grenades, walkie-talkie. Sadly, none of his cousins wanted to play kill-or-be-killed with him. Being girls that are several years older than he is probably had something to do with that. But Ian's Aunt Jeni took pity on him and they went for a walk, where he tripped and fell end over end. Recovering by the fire, he accidentally got elbowed in the eye by Zack. He fell down another two times before the evening was over and scraped his leg on a branch. Then his hot dog fell in the fire. His response to all this, "I'm having bad luck!"
     When it was time to leave, Tawni decided to ride home with her Aunt Kim. I think she'd had enough of us. The rest of my brood piled in the car and we drove a little farther up the canyon to better appreciate the gorgeous foliage. Beka wasn't happy with this detour and voiced her displeasure with a supreme air.
     "I have homework."
     "Me, too," I said.
     During the drive Ian started whimpering and complaining about his horrible day. I was sympathetic at first, but after listening to the same sob story, I started getting irritated.
     "Okay, Ian. I get it. Let's move on now."
     "I want Dad."
     "I know."
     During this exchange I'd turned down the radio so that I could hear him from the backseat.
     "Turn up the muusiiiiic!" he whined.
     "Ugh! Fine!" My patience was getting thinner.
     "You're mean! Why is everybody mean to me?"
     "Stop complaining and whining and we will be nice. Nobody likes a whiner."
     The complaining never stopped. It just got louder. About this time I noticed something dark in the road. Lori saw it, too. "Stop! Raccoon!"
     "I know. I see it."
     But it wasn't just one raccoon. There were two. However, one was lying on its back, legs spasming in the air because it had just been run over. The other was walking back and forth in the road, agitated and confused because suddenly its world had changed.
     Several things happened simultaneously.
     Lori cried out, "Don't look!" So of course everybody looks.
     I slowed the car to a crawl.
     Beka yelled in my ear, "Mom! There are cars behind you!"
     "Beka, don't tell me how to drive!"
     "I'm not! There are cars that need to get by!"
     "I have to slow down! There are raccoons!"
     Ian was whimpering harder, "That's so sad!"
     And Zack was trying to be the voice of reason and fix it all.
     When we got home Beka's boyfriend was there. Apparently she'd been texting so that his arrival at our house coincided with us getting home. She took solace in his arms because, obviously, she was traumatized by her evil family.
     The first thing Ian did was call his daddy.
     As for me? I couldn't help thinking that I should have traded places with Tawni and gone home with Kim.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back On Track

     It's been so long since I've written anything and it feels a little uncomfortable to start again. But I've procrastinated far too long and I'm afraid that many Ianisms are forgotten because of my laziness. Sitting in church today and listening to the talks that were given about family and family home evenings reminded me of many humorous moments over the years and inspired me to not only write them down, but to also be more diligent in teaching my children about the gospel.
     According to my kids, we never have family home evening. That is their perspective and it's wrong. For twenty years I have made valiant efforts to hold family home evening. Some efforts have been more successful than others. We do well as a family for several weeks, and then I poop out. After listening to general conference, I get inspired again and we make another effort. My point is that I never quit trying. While we may not hold it religiously each week, the desire is there and sometimes that desire translates into success. When I'm doing really well, we have family prayer too. Which brings to mind one of my many efforts about nine years ago, an effort that solidified my suspicion that God does indeed have a sense of humor.
     Scott was at the fire station so it was just me and my heathens. I'd made a commitment to myself to hold family prayer and just because the dad wasn't home didn't mean we could forget about it. This was our first effort in--well--a really long time. I gathered my children around me and we formed a circle on the floor, kneeling reverently. I asked someone to say it, I think it was Tawni, and we bowed our heads. That's when we all saw that someone else had decided to join our prayer. A large--quarter size--wolf spider was sitting in the middle of our circle. The pandemonium that ensued would have made a rock concert look like sunday school. There was screaming and jumping and running and pushing and furniture climbing. When the dust settled not one person remained on the floor. We all perched precarioulsy on the sofa or coffee table.
     "Did anyone squish it?" I asked.
     There was a lot of head shaking.
     I sighed, "Well it's not there anymore."
     We all inched a little further up on our perches.
     And that's how we had our first family prayer in over a year.
     I've often thought about that experience, trying to figure out which Heavenly Being sent the spider into our midst. My imaginings sound something like this:

     "Hey, Peter. The Bringhurst's are going to have family prayer."
     "No way. John? Get over and look at this."
     "Wow. Hey, you know what would be funny?"
     "Do it, James."

     Or maybe...

     "Sweetheart, look! The Bringhurst family is going to pray together. Get ready. I want you to answer this one right away. It's been so long."
     "Well look at that! HeeHee! Watch this, honey."
     "Don't you dare!"
     "Too late!"

     Tonight I decided to make another valiant effort. Not only were we going to have family prayer, but we would read scriptures too. The scripture reading went better than expected. The only problem was when I read the word "hell" and Ian clamped his hand over his mouth and said, "Mom! Don't swear!" I had to stop and explain that in the scriptures it was talking about a place and was okay and that it was different from when I get angry and yell at him. After our reading we knelt down to pray and Ian asked if he could say it. I told him he could but he had to make sure to be very reverent because he was talking to Heavenly Father. This is the prayer he said:

     "Heavenly Father, Thank you for these wonderful evil children. Bless Dad. Name of Jesus Christ, Amen."