In each family a story is playing itself out, and each family’s story embodies its hope and despair.
This is a big weekend for me as I will spend much of it with three of my older grandsons. One will be arriving by bus from his college in another state this afternoon and he has asked me to join him for lunch and a movie tomorrow that he thinks we will both enjoy. I’ll be taking him back to the bus station for his return to school early Sunday morning. His cousin, another of my grandsons who is a recent University graduate will join me to pick him up today and we will all dine together this evening. Tomorrow still another grandson, who is also a college student, will join us for lunch and conversation.
Each of these young men is facing the adjustments that come from leaving childhood behind just as we did years ago. For many it is not easy, the pain from breakups is real, the challenges that come from making academic choices and planning for a career is often difficult. Many times it is hard for us who are older to understand the world in which our children live these days. It is hard for them, but it is also hard for those of us who care for them. We love them so much that we want nothing but the best for them so we sometimes provide too much advice and even insist that they see the world through our eyes. In my experience that does not work very well, I know it never worked when my mother tried to set me straight more than a half century ago. Unfortunately I even find that we sometimes treat them with less courtesy than we treat a stranger.
I have yet to find a situation where my judgmental criticism that resulted in my telling others what to do works very well. I do much better if I listen to what they say and how they feel with sincere interest. All I can offer on occasion is one or more things that might be helpful if considered. Each of my grandsons has issues and challenges and I feel truly blessed that they are willing to share them with me and that we can occasionally brainstorm as we search together for answers.
You know it is really not easy growing up but it is also hard for us who are older to realize that children become adults and like the bird on its maiden flight they may stumble a few times but they learn. I want to be there to hold out a hand if they need help up, I want to be there to cheer as they move on and I want to continue to appreciate that they care enough about me to let me into their lives.
I just wish I had been a better father to my own kids when they were growing up but unfortunately I thought I was a lot wiser than I really was and that I was obligated to try to impose my solutions on their problems. Sadly I also often let my job take priority which left me little time to listen.
I am proud of each of my seven grandchildren; each one is special in their own way. I also know their parents are pretty good people so I am optimistic that they will all grow up well so they can help make our world a better place for us all.
Govern a family as you would cook a small fish – very gently.
A few helpful rules:
While playing a round of golf, never shout out your score in a loud voice to your partner – especially if you happen to get a four.
If you are on the road trying to get somewhere in a hurry, do not get behind a minivan or ANY vehicle that sports Kentucky license plates. Especially do not get behind any minivan from Kentucky.
Never make up pet names for your lover which cannot be repeated on an airport’s public address system. "Would Mr. Snookeybear Blair please report to the reservations desk … Mr. Snookeybear Blair!"
Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today.
Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However, every Evil Overlord I’ve read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I’ve noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. Therefore, if I ever happen to become an Evil Overlord:
1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear Plexiglas visors, not face-concealing ones.
2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.
4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.
6. I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicament before killing them.
7. When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I’ll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I’ll shoot him then say "No."
8. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks’ time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.
9. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labeled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labeled as such.
10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum — a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
A little ignorance can go a long way.
Women love to shop. It is the one area of the world where they feel like they’re actually in control.
Women especially love a bargain. The question of "need" is irrelevant, so don’t bother pointing it out. Anything on sale is fair game.
Women never have anything to wear. Don’t question the racks of clothes in the closet; you "just don’t understand".
Women need to cry. And they won’t do it alone unless they know you can hear them.
Women will always ask questions that have no right answer, in an effort to trap you into feeling guilty.
If nobody measures up, check your yardstick.
Unaware that Indianapolis is on Eastern Standard Time and Chicago on Central Standard Time, Bob inquired at the Indianapolis airport about a plane to Chicago.
"The next flight leaves at 1:00 p.m.," a ticket agent said, "and arrives in Chicago at 1:01 p.m."
"Would you repeat that, please?" Bob asked.
The agent did so and then inquired, "Do you want a ticket?"
"No," said Bob, "But I think I’ll hang around and watch that thing take off."
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive, anyway.
When the new patient was settled comfortably on the couch, the psychiatrist began his therapy session. "I’m not aware of your problem," the doctor said. "So perhaps, you should start at the very beginning."
"Of course," replied the patient. "In the beginning, I created the Heavens and the Earth…"
I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S Truman
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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The editor is somewhat senile.
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