When I woke up at 430am this morning I told myself I was going to write about our adventures.  This post was going to be the triumphant story of General Disarray and I marching in the NAACP’s America’s Journey for Justice march.  Our misadventures in the rain and deep awe inspiring conversations on race, religion, and the world.  I was going to look like a really fucking fantastic parent, on paper.  Life doesn’t go the way we script it in our minds, though.  No, it’s unpredictable and chaotic.  It laughs in the face of hopes, plans, dreams, and even our sorrows.  The wheel is going to turn and all we can do is hold on and enjoy the beating wind against our faces as it cuts us and licks away our tears.  

Life happened.  Six miles into a rainy humid day in Virginia.  General Disarray and I hopped on a crowded bus and attempted to find seats.  Such is life, and bus seat roulette, General Disarray ended up next to a friend of his and I found a seat nearby.  A few moments later I was joined by the older man who had occupied that same section throughout the whole journey.  He got comfortable next to me and I twiddled my thumbs and fiddled with my phone.  I knew what was coming. I can always sense when people are going to talk to me.  It’s like some sort of anxiety-riddled introverted six sense.  I dread it.  I can do it, but I don’t like to.  People, though, seem to enjoy talking to me.  I don’t understand it, but they keep doing it.  So I brace myself, check the anxiety, and reciprocate the conversation.  

Introductions took place.  The usual name, hailing coordinates, and situation specific questioning.  From there our conversation veered into a million different directions.  From his life experiences and family to religion and politics.  Humans can fit a lot of conversation into 30 minutes.  It often amazes me… maybe that’s why I keep giving into the demands for talking.  It was one of those conversations that when it’s over you’re glad it happened, even as you sink back into the insanity of your own mind you’re glad life threw you a curve.

You refuel on hope and fried chicken.  The rain subsides and you feel pumped.  Life is happening and it’s the kind of life that makes being human enjoyable.  Where every cell of your body is awake and positive.  It’s a high.  We spend our lives in search of these fleeting moments.  We look for them in a variety of experiences that dot our human existence.  They are temporary.  We know this while we’re living them that they won’t last.  They can’t, because that’s not how life operates.  

True to form, life literally stopped us in our tracks and there face down in the moist concrete was the man I shared a brief human experience with.  As he shouted that his life mattered, death -the one human experience we’re all running from- came to the party.  I believe moments like that show us for the fearful creatures we are.  Everyone turns to god, he’ll make it all better.  As EMTs do their job, prayers fill the air falling into nothingness.  Everyone is afraid of the reality they can see with their own eyes, because if death came for him at this very moment then death could come for any of us.  We’re not safe.  No amount of praying or playing it safe will keep death from our doorstep.               

For me, as an atheist, I stand there knowing no one is listening.  That this is life.  I stand there fully aware of mortality.  Fully present in the reality that in 38 short years that could be me.  Hell, even tomorrow that could be me.  I’ve spent this year dancing with my own mortality.  If I’m completely honest about the situation I’m ignoring the last test and follow-up, because every test before points to the same thing.  Medication until shit gets worse… then more medications…. until death comes knocking on my door sooner than I want it to.  I want to make it to 100 glorious years of age and I welcome my body to prove me wrong, but I’m not given that guarantee.  None of us are.  

So what do we do?  Fall to our knees and beg for more time?  Sit in our houses and bury ourselves in a sea of despair and hopelessness?  Or worse, play it safe hoping to hold off death as long as possible? No, no that’s not how I operate.  I’m not guaranteed life, but I’m guaranteed death and that’s something.  I know what’s coming.  I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but it’s coming for me.  It’s coming for all of us.  I can work with that guarantee and use that knowledge as a reminder that I need to let those I love know it.  As well as let those I can’t stand know that they can kiss my beautiful caramel colored ass, and to remember to make the story of my life a beautiful piece of prose that I would want to read more than once.  

Death is going to come calling for all of us one day.  What are you going to do with your life while you’re waiting for death to arrive?  

Copyright(c)2015 Rayven Holmes

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I’ve argued before that parenting, to some extent, involves training our children.  Or conditioning them to have certain responses through how we interact with them in various situations, either positively or negatively.  We shout “No, hot!” when they reach for the stove and our raised voice, which they have been conditioned to interpret as not normal in healthy situations, alerts them to know that they shouldn’t touch the hot item.  Some children will accept this warning, others will question it, and a few will touch it any damn way.  I have one of each.  Parenting them is a constant experiment in human behavior.  I do my best to condition them to have responses that will ensure their health and well-being, such looking both ways when crossing a busy street. I do this by explaining the danger, practicing the behavior myself, and responding to their actions with praise or correction.  When the cars are removed I expect the same response as if the cars were there.  They are individuals, though, so my risk taker isn’t going to be as cautious as his brothers. *I’m pretty sure he’s the reason my hair is going gray.  Seriously, he walks into the street without looking all the time like there isn’t danger out there.  Why? Why does he do that?!*  Anyways..., this is where parenting only takes you but so far, because children are individuals.  

Unless you prescribe to the methods of the Pearls.  

Oh, the Pearls.  I can’t remember when I first came across their promise of well-behaved/fully obedient children, but I will admit at first I thought “Holy shit that’s awesome!”  On a shitty day the promise of being able to say “Clean your room” only once is a powerful aphrodisiac.  Once the fantasy fades, and you actually read what goes into producing such “well-behaved” children,  you are able to see their parenting philosophy for what it is.  A flawed theory based on bronze age insanity that seeks to crush what makes our children the vibrant individuals they are, in hopes of making our lives as parents easier.  While there are days I wish this parenting gig got easier, I know it isn’t supposed to be easy because I’m doing the work of raising humans.  I'm striving to raise thriving unique individuals who are free to question and think critically about everything, including why we shouldn’t touch hot objects with our bare hands or cross streets without looking first.  Not mindless robots with broken spirits.  It isn’t easy, but nothing worth doing well will be.  

So, why am I bringing up the Pearls and their parenting philosophy if it is vastly different from my own?  Because, I’m a sucker for producing enlightening and entertaining television...or intervision?  Karen, BeAsia, and I have been throwing around the idea of a show where we attempted to live biblically in our parenting for a week.  I know, it’s a scary thought.  You all have seen our kids on the show from time to time, that shit wouldn’t fly with that lot of heathens, and thank The Great Noodle for that!  I still felt it would be an interesting experiment to explore, so for the rest of September I’ll be using the Pearls methods and documenting it here.  Then on September 27th we’ll discuss the experience on The Secular Parents.  

Now, before I get a bunch of emails let me explain how I’m doing this:  

  1. I won’t actually use the Pearls methods on my children.  I’ve put too much hard work into raising critical thinkers with a high self-worth to undo that. Plus, I love them far too much to break them.  How can we break someone we love? I never could wrap my mind around that concept. Love is about building someone up not tearing them down. At least that's how I see it.
  2. I’ll log my children’s behavior and the “appropriate” consequence(s) the Pearls recommend I use along with what I actually did and why I do things the way I do.  
  3. I’ll ask my children how they would feel if their consequence was what is recommended and document their response as well as my own response.
  4. On the show, I will have a visual to show the number of times it’s recommended to physically harm my children.  I like visuals.  While I deal in words, nothing can take the place of a powerful visual.               

There will probably be swearing, ok there WILL be swearing, with my commentary as I work my way through the next couple of weeks.  So much swearing and ranting…who the hell thinks it's ok to beat an infant?! Thor help me, it's going to be a long two weeks.  

Copyright(c)2015 Rayven Holmes