Last week we celebrated the birthday of my youngest son, Philip. He's living through his mid-20s and as the baby in the family he's benefited from all the trial and errors his parents went through in child-rearing his three other siblings.
For the most part, Philip was a docile child. Maybe being the youngest of his siblings helped. I know my own baby brother seemed to be the more level-headed and mature of the bunch coming up. Philip never really got into much trouble, unlike an older brother whose escapades could easily fill 3 or 4 blogs -- the same older brother who when they were kids would dive bomb over the coffee table onto Philip and make him submit to calling him the "Master".
While I try to include in most of these blogs something (hopefully) along the lines of mind, body, or spirit, this one really doesn't meet that aim and it really came to mind, more or less, as an appreciation of one of my children. However, there are a few things about Philip's upbringing that might provide some insight to some parent out there.
The most disconcerting thing about Philip occurred when he was 5 years old. A kindergarten classmate once told him that there was a snake going around town that came up through people's toilets. And if they weren't careful it would bite them on the rear-end. He became so frightened and obsessed that he began holding it in more than he was letting it out. As a result he became constipated -- and not just a little bit. This went on for a few months. Would get a little better, then worse. I think we finally told him the snake had been captured, showing him a picture of some poor dead snake. He believed it, was happy and the train began to move again.
One near medical emergency happened when the little fella was standing at the baseball concession stand to buy a pickle when a loping foul ball took a bounce and struck him in the head. Flummoxed and suffering, he left without his pickle, the only thing really bruised being his pride.
Another time, also when he was a kid, happened while playing off on the side as a "dirt-digger" at a baseball game. He got bit by a mole -- the kind with sharp incisors and interesting claws. He screamed so loud and long that they had to stop the ballgame to make sure no one was dying.
So, if as a parent you wish to improve on parenting skills, be prepared to counter any strange notion your child brings home from a kindergarten classmate -- make them wear a helmet when they buy stuff from the concession stand, and never let them play with moles.
The only other thing that was a little irksome as parents about Philip was his name. His uncles, aunts, and cousins, some not all, would give birthday and Christmas gifts and misspell his name on the labels and cards with double-"L"s. PhiLLip, instead of PhiLip, looking more a surname than a first name. Yes, we know there is controversy and some popularity with the various spelling of the name Philip, but the Latin and Greek origin of the name has one "L", while it's the surname Phillip or Phillips that has two "L"s.
The family having failed to respond to our gentle reminders about the correct spelling and as parents somewhat irked by the corruption of our beloved child's name, most insignificant I know, but actually an important parental issue, I wrote a little diddy, and sent it to the aunts and uncles.
Of all the names to give small boys
There's none that's more arresting
Than "Philip" with a single "L"
That some folks find contesting.
If Philip is the first name
That you wish to give your son
Then spell it with a single "L"
And then you will be done.
But if to him you give the name
The "L"s with duplication
Then all his life he'll justify
This dense miscalculation
So remember, for the first name
That it's Philip with one "L"
It's the other Phillip name
That has the extra single "L"
So in case you can't remember
I will spell it so you'll see
The letters as they look like this
Eventually, everyone got the idea.
But seriously Philip is actually quite smart in his own right. At the University of South Alabama he learned how to be a bean counter (accountant), in addition to some other clever things. And now working for a nationally recognized accounting firm in Mobile, he's about to become an extraordinary bean counter as he's about to become a Certified Public Accountant. In fact, he was even sent to New York recently to validate an audit on a company that's piling up quite a large number of beans.
At any rate, aside from these other trivial diversions, he's turned out to be quite productive, a model son, and a model citizen -- especially since he's paying his fair share of taxes. And for all of these things we are all very proud. We praise and thank God.
Happy Birthday again, Bud!