Tag Archives: children

My Daughter Does Opera

I know I’ve posted a lot, already, but this is my daughter we’re talking about. 

Katie is a Music Education and Biology Education Major at Bryan College. Today she performed a piece while I was at work, so my wife filmed it. 

I downloaded the video and then uploaded it to Youtube so you guys could see it. 

I don’t have the foggiest idea what she is singing, but it’s pretty. 

Enjoy! 

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Filed under music, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized

Choose Your Cabbage: Where Babies Come From

Bus Stories

If you didn’t know by now (I don’t know how you wouldn’t), I am a mild-mannered school bus driver by day…I can’t tell you about what I do at night – it’s top secret.

Because I drive a school bus, I am privy to many things children will talk about when not around teachers or parents (they seem to think I can’t hear – I’m too focused on the road, you know). Most of what they talk about is mundane and full of drama (especially with the girls), but sometimes their conversations DEMAND that I insert my two cents.

However, it is rare to hear my elementary kids (grades K-5) talk about “the birds and the bees,” especially when the words they use are ones like “egg,” “sperm,” etc. Therefore, what was discussed today was destined to be turned into a blog post.

Not Supposed to Know

I was just driving, looking ahead at the road, when a 5th-grade girl (let’s call her “Sue”) sitting in a seat right behind me uttered the words “sperm,” “egg,” and “sex” in the same string of words. I am only assuming the string of words were put together in the form of a sentence, but the key words stood out above the rest she used. Immediately my eyes looked up to the rear-view mirror.

Blah blah sex blah blah blah sperm and egg, blah blah blah, isn’t that right?” Sue asked a male student across the aisle from her.

Looking at Sue’s reflection in my student mirror, with a combined look of shock and inquisitiveness, I asked, “What in the world are y’all talking about?”

“Oh…yeah…we’ve been learning stuff in 5th grade…probably stuff we shouldn’t know at our age,” Sue replied. Then she called upon a 5th-grade boy (let’s call him Jack) and asked, “Isn’t that right, Jack? Tell Mr. Baker what we were learning about in class.”

Like a typical boy with little on his mind, Jack at first responded with a “Huh?” Then he went on to say, “Yeah, we talked about sex, and where babies come from, and all that.”

“And eggs and sperm, right?” Sue continued.

“Oh, yeah, that too,” Jack confirmed.

“Well,” I said, shaking my head, “you’re probably right…you’re too young for that stuff.”

“And a…a….a….” Sue stuttered, trying to complete a word.

Asexual?” I questioned, attempting to complete the word she was trying to remember.

“Yeah! Asexual! We learned about being asexual, too,” Sue replied.

“Asexual” Advice

So, as you see, I was drawn into a conversation that grown-ups dread, especially when it comes to dealing with little kids that are not your own. Therefore, taking charge of the discussion, I immediately began to extend my wisdom on the subject.

“So, you know what asexual is, then?” I asked.

“Yes,” sue replied.

“Well, that’s what you should be…asexual,” I said. Sue tilted her head with suspicion.

“Yep, that’s what you need to be – asexual. That means you don’t need a boy; you don’t need to date anyone; you don’t need any of that –  just have babies all by yourself, or cut off your arm and in no time you have another you, just like a starfish. Simple.”

“I don’t think that’s the way it works, Mr. Baker,” said an incredulous Sue. Then she looked at Jack and asked, “What wrong?”

Jack, looking a little sad, then said, “I don’t want to be asexual…I don’t like asexual. That makes me sad.” Then he stepped off the bus.

Cabbages On a Tray

With a serious, yet “no duh” look I caught Sue’s eye in the above mirror and asked, “Do you really want to know where babies come from?”

“Sure. Where?” replied Sue.

I explained it this way…

You see, first of all, all that stuff you see on TV, all that stuff in the movies…especially that Rated-R stuff…all of that is fake; don’t believe it. All that stuff you see them doing is not real; men and women don’t really do all of that. 

Secondly, I have kids, so I know about these things. That whole “Stork” thing…that’s made up, too. 

Here’s the truth, OK? What happens is when a woman has a baby, she goes to the hospital to get it. She goes to a really nice, expensive room, where she gets really comfortable and waits around a while. They put her on a bed, lean her back, and then cover her up with a blanket, making sure she has everything she needs. Then, at some point, the doctors and nurses roll in a cart with a big tray on it. On that big tray is a bunch of cabbages.

What happens is when they roll in that tray full of cabbages, the woman is then given one choice, one cabbage, to pick. She picks the cabbage she wants, then they turn it over. Whatever baby is under that cabbage is the one she gets, the one she has to take home.

That’s where babies come from. You understand, now?

“Cabbages, huh?” asked Sue, her lips snarled up to one corner of her face.

“Yes. Cabbages.”

“Well, OK.”

“Oh, and Sue,” I said, as I was approaching her stop, “this means if your mom wants to have another baby, she doesn’t need another husband, either.”

Sue looked at me, head tilted, with a look on her freckled face that screamed “this oughta be good,” and then asked, “Oh, really?

“Absolutely!” I exclaimed. Knowing Sue’s mom is divorced, I went on to explain, “If she wants another baby, all she needs to do is call down to the hospital and order a tray of cabbages, and they’ll get one ready for her. Then she can just pick.”

Stepping down the stairs after the bus came to a stop at her street corner, Sue looked back at me with a smile and said, “Cabbages, huh? Have a great day, Mr. Baker…see you tomorrow.”

And THAT is how a bus driver explains the birds and the bees.

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Filed under current events, Humor, Life Lessons, Parenting, wisdom

Fairness Straws

Complaining Children

It may have never crossed your mind, but it’s pretty common to have complaining children on a school bus. Really? Yeah, really.

But every once in a while this fortunate driver is blessed with a child or two who has no concept of social skills, much less an understanding of what is or isn’t fair. Therefore, should anything at all not go their way, the usual response is a river of tears, an emotional breakdown, and the inevitable attempts to make deals.

Honestly, these kids will drain all the energy from you. Had we not already had three children, I would have been the one in the marriage to claim a headache, even on the honeymoon.

First One Off

This week, the big argument with my ever-complaining, ever-competing, socially-challenged, inconsolable brother-and-sister tag-team was who would be the first one to get off the bus when they arrived at their stop. Dear Lord! Help me! Why??

“Can I get off first, Mr. Baker?” came the first request. Then, from a panicky sibling, “Can I get off first, Mr. Baker? Please!” Back and forth, pleading like people about to face the death penalty, the brother and sister would argue their cases.

At one point they started playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” but they ended up finding ways to cheat. Then they tried a game of “Quiet Mouse,” but who were they kidding? Nothing they tried helped them decide who would get off the bus first, especially when the loser of any game they played wanted a do-over.

Finally, I came up with an idea.

Straws

These are the actual straws I used.

At first I thought about the whole “short straw” thing, but then I decided to modify it for the occasion. Since a total of four elementary children would be getting off at the last stop, I took four drinking straws, grabbed a Sharpie, and marked on each one.

I said, “I have four straws, and each of you are going to pull one out of my hand. If you pull out the one with only one mark on it, then you can get off the bus first.”

“Can I have that straw,” asked the little girl?

No!” I replied. “That wouldn’t be fair, now would it? You have to pick it from my hand.”

The little brain surgeon never missed a beat, “Well, can I pick that one, then?”

Life Isn’t Fair, Or Is It?

So, as you might have guessed, once it got down to actually drawing straws with marks, nobody got the straw they wanted, except the kid who drew the straw with one mark – and that kid didn’t really care!

Picture, if you would, a little boy flopping around in the seat, kicking, and bellowing out through snot and tears, “But my sister CAN’T go in front of me! It’s not FAIR!”

After having all I could take I looked in my rear-view mirror and said, “You know what? Life isn’t fair! You don’t always get what you want!”

Then something profound hit me: “What if life IS fair, but it’s just that we are selfish and don’t want to accept the results of the straws?”

Learn to be Content

If there was anyone in history who could have claimed that life wasn’t fair, it was the Apostle Paul. I mean, good grief, this man had everything in the world happen to him! He was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, starved, and a whole bunch of other things – all for trying to do what was right. Was that fair?

But what did Paul have to say about all the things he endured?

“…I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11b (NIV)

Maybe if we were a little more like Paul, having the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), drawing the wrong straw might not matter as much. Maybe we could better accept our position in line and wish the best for others going before? Maybe we could see the sovereignty of the Master Marker of Straws at work and learn to be content?

Maybe more of us should just be happy we were allowed on the bus in the first place! 

 

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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons

Reality Check

Those who piously suggest we should “listen to the children” have obviously never driven a school bus. 

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Don’t Call Me a Hallomeany

The following was originally published in October of 2012.

Not a Hallomeany

I am not a big Halloween guy. I don’t get in to the dressing up, and all that. For that matter, I don’t really celebrate the holiday.

However, I am not a total Hallomeany. I am not the Halloween version of Scrooge. For example, when a little girl asked what I thought of her costume, I didn’t say, “You look more like a prostitot than a princess.” I said, “You look very nice!”

When the little boys come around dressed like monsters, I always shiver like I am scared. When they dress like superheroes, I ask if they can fly. And when they look like a cat, dog, or freakazoid satanic mutt from the pits of hell, I say, “Wow! Do you have fleas, too?”

Wiggin’ Out

So, even though I don’t really celebrate Halloween, I try to keep the kids on the bus from thinking I am a “legalist.” What do I do? I wear a wig. This time I wore an Afro.

One little girl told me she was Little Red Riding Hood. I told her I was Big Black Afro Hood.

But the funny thing about all of this is the reaction of the elementary kids. It really made me wonder what bus they have been riding the last three months.

The Kids: (at least 1,000 times) “Mr. Baker, is that your real hair?”

Me: “Yes. It is. I was bald yesterday, but I put fertilizer on my head and my hair grew overnight.”

The Kids: “No it’s not…I bet it is a wig…that’s not your hair…let me touch it…I bet it’s a wig.”

Me:  “Of course it’s my real hair.”

The Kids:  “Is that really your real hair? You’re wearing a wig…I just know it.”

Me: (I got upset with some children who wouldn’t stay in their seats, so I got serious and took off the wig.)

A Little Girl (that has ridden the bus for 3 months): “Aaaahhhh (gasping, then giggling as she whispers to another child), Mr. Baker’s BALD!

Me:  “You THINK?! Where have you been? Did you not see me yesterday? Are you blind?”

You’ve Known Me How Long?

After telling the above story a few times, it seemed God wanted to tell me something.

I kept thinking of a conversation Jesus has with Phillip in John 14:8-9. Phillip asked, “Show us the Father.” That’s when Jesus replied in the same way I did to the little girl, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me?”

That got me to wondering. How long have I known Jesus? And how many times do I act like I haven’t even been paying attention to His presence? How many times have I been surprised by an answered prayer? How many times have I doubted, only to find Him faithful?

“You’ve known Me how long?” Long enough to know better.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, God, Humor, Life Lessons

Happy Fox Is Leaving

If you have lived for any amount of time, like most of you surely have, I’m positive there’s been a time or two when the air was knocked out of you by some bad news.

Think of something you’ve experienced – not so bad as the death of a loved one, though, – and you’ll understand how I feel right now.

Names

The first thing you need to know is that I name children on my school bus. If that sounds strange, the reason is because sometimes I can’t remember their parent-given names, especially early on in the school year. Therefore, I give them a name in the same way my Native American ancestors did; I name them based on something I see.

For example, one girl is tall and thin as a stick, so I call her Sticky. There’s a boy who always runs from his house to the bus, so I call him Runny Boy. Flower Girl lives on a street called Magnolia. Flower Girl’s little sister, a 5th grader who started riding my bus in Kindergarten, blew bubbles on the bus, so… her name is Bubbles, a name which she fiercely defends (she’ll go by that name in college one day).

Another little girl started riding my bus four years ago, I believe. The thing that set her apart from every other child on my bus was her smile – it was constant and predictable. So, when she started riding my bus it was cooler weather, therefore she always wore a hat that looked like a fox head (with ears and all). That’s when I started calling her Happy Fox.

The Notification

This afternoon, as I was standing in the big room where all the children come to sit in their designated areas, each one with a sign that displays the number of the bus they will ride, Happy Fox walked up to me with only half a smile.

“I’m gonna be leaving you,” she said with an uncharacteristically somber tone.

“What? You’re gonna be leaving me?” I asked jokingly.

“Yeah,” she said, “I’m not going to be riding with you anymore.”

A little shocked, I replied, “Really? Why not?”

With an brave little attitude that some kids have – the kind that care about the feelings of others and don’t really expect your sympathy – she explained, “Yeah, well, my mom and dad are breaking up, and I’ve got to go live with my dad…so I won’t be riding anymore after Friday, I think.”

That.  Hurt.  On.  So.  Many.  Levels!!

The Others

Here’s the thing: God hates divorce! You want to know why? Well, besides the fact that it is the opposite of what God wants, which is a picture of faithfulness that mirrors His faithfulness to us, it hurts a LOT of people, especially the children!! … And the bus drivers!!!

Too often couples will separate for the most petty of reasons. Others break up for good reasons, but the reasons were preventable. Nevertheless, no matter the reason, there are very few of them that are insurmountable, should the offended couple think of others besides themselves.

Today was a good example of the ripple effects divorces have. Sure, some couple thinks their lives are going to be better now that they don’t live with each other, but children are going to suffer; future families are going to suffer; risks for many bad things are going to go up; and even people like me are going to cry, get in an ill mood, bite the heads off their own families, and write depressing blog posts at the end of the day.

I just pray that Happy Fox can keep that smile.

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Depression, Divorce, Parenting, Relationships and Family

Happy 16th Birthday, Haley!

Sweet Sixteen

Today (July 28th) my youngest daughter, Haley, turns sixteen. I am so happy for her, but it does make me feel old.

Haley has always been the serious one, the only baby in the family who would look at the photographer trying to make her laugh and say with an expression, “Are you serious?” No joke, if you were to look back at all of our girls’ baby pictures, Haley is the only one who very rarely smiled. Thankfully, she got the smile to working.

image

But Haley is not longer a baby  – she’s sixteen. That’s 16. That’s driver’s license age. That’s the same age as Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles (although I have no idea how old Molly was when it was filmed). Am I ready for my serious little baby girl to ride around with a 20-something in his daddy’s Rolls Royce?

Uhmm… No. I’m not.

The Birth Announcement

Do you want to know how I first heard about Haley? Sure you do, or you’d quit reading.

Sixteen years ago I was working in Hopkinsville, Kentucky at Fuqua-Hinton Funeral Home, while my wife and other two daughters were still in Chattanooga. My wife had been trying to find a way to tell me she was expecting, but could never track me down. Finally, I was stopped by an older, Lurch-like funeral home worker as I was coming out of my office.

“Anthony, I need to tell you something… You need to sit down.”

“What’s going on?” I asked with a little curiosity.

Looking down at me with little expression and with a matter-of-fact tone he said, “You’re wife called. She’s pregnant. You’re going to have a baby.”

Yeah, that’s how I found out.

The Wildcat

July 4th at the park.

July 4th at the park.

In case you didn’t get it, Haley was born in Kentucky, so that makes her a Wildcat. Now, she is not a big Kentucky Wildcat fan, or anything, but the name fits, that’s for sure.

Haley is anything but placid. Haley is as matter-of-fact as the funeral home where I worked, always serious, even when she’s having fun. But Haley is no one to be trifled with; she’s a gun-loving, knife-wielding, fish-catching, John Deere-riding kind of girl with an a hankering for action.

Haley loves to dress up with an elegance that rivals Grace Kelly, but give her half-a-chance and she’ll get down and dirty picking weeds out of mulch and hauling rock with a wheelbarrow. As a matter of fact, she’s a little entrepreneur: she’s started her own little business called “Hard-Work’n Southern Girl.”

Doing the hard work, like her grandpa and great-granddaddy before her.

Doing the hard work, like her grandpa and great-granddaddy before her.

Boldness

But if there is anything about Haley that makes me most proud is her boldness; Haley is fearless when it comes to approaching people. This trait can be especially useful when trying to sell a box full of my books to total strangers. Haley has no problem walking up to someone and offering them a flyer, asking them to buy a book, or walking up to a total stranger in need of help and offering hers.

Haley helping after stormWhen a storm comes through our community and blows down trees that block the road, Haley is the first to look for ways to help a neighbor…even when the neighbor looks a little scary and has a chainsaw (my wife took the picture – she stayed in the car while Haley got out and helped).

But it’s when she is bold about her faith in Jesus…when she walks up to a stranger and invites him to church… when she’s waiting in line somewhere and finds a reason to offer them one of my business cards and says, “You should come hear my dad preach”… when she wants to help out in the projects where the children of drug dealers need Bibles…

When she’s taken life’s tragedies and her own brokenness as an opportunity to make things right for others who’ve also been wounded and hurt…

When she reaches out to the unloved, the unlovely, the friendless, and the forgotten…because that’s what Jesus would do…

THAT is what makes me the proudest dad in the world.

November, 2015

Volleyball Banquet, November 2015

Happy birthday, Haley! I love you!!

Celebrating the b-day at Summit @ Bryan College. We brought roses :-) Katie, is on the right.

Celebrating the b-day at Summit @ Bryan College. We brought roses 🙂 Katie, is on the right. Can you pick out Sean McDowell in the upper left corner?

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Filed under Parenting, Relationships and Family