Kids, Ask Me About Easter – By Reverend Tornquist

Kids, Ask Me About Easter – By Reverend Tornquist

[Note from the staff at VFTB: This week, we are privileged to feature another LIVE CHAT with noted children’s religious scholar, Reverend Norman Tornquist, host of the popular webcast, “Kids, Ask Me About God”. Tornquist is the renowned author of several books, including God Loves Kids with Braces Too, and Skittles – The Devil’s Gateway Snack. We join the LIVE CHAT already in progress….]

This week, in honor of the Easter holiday, VFTB is proud to feature a LIVE CHAT with celebrated Christian scholar Reverend Norman Tornquist. He’ll tackle kids’ most thought-provoking questions about Easter, like Does Jesus have a bunny and Does Jesus like the licorice jelly beans?

This week, in honor of the Easter holiday, VFTB is proud to feature a LIVE CHAT with celebrated Christian scholar Reverend Norman Tornquist. He’ll tackle kids’ most thought-provoking questions about Easter, like Does Jesus have a bunny and Does Jesus like the licorice jelly beans?

Reverend Tornquist: Kids, this coming Sunday is a very special day. Does anybody know what day this Sunday is? Yes, Billy?

Billy (age 8): I think I know, Reverend Tormkiss. It’s Easter!

Tornquist: That’s right, Billy. It’s Easter. And my name is actually Tornquist. Tell me, Billy, what’s so special about Easter?

Billy: Mommy and Daddy give me a big Easter basket filled with colored eggs and chocolate eggs and lots and lots of yummy candy.

Tornquist: Well, that sure sounds like fun, Billy. But do you know anything else that’s special about this particular Sunday?

Claire (age 7): Oh, I know, I know, Mr. Tourniquet.

Tornquist: That’s Tornquist. I know, it’s a hard name to pronounce. What do you think makes this Sunday so special, Claire?

Claire: My mommy gives me a giant stuffed aminal bunny every Easter. I have six of them so far. Would you like to play with them?

Tornquist: Thank you, Claire. That is so nice of you to be willing to share. Actually, I was thinking of something slightly different. Easter also marks the day that someone very important re-appeared to let the world know that he was not dead but would live on. Any guess who I’m talking about, kids?

Henry (age 9): My pet hamster, Bubbles. Last weekend, he escaped under our backyard fence, and I thought he was gone forever. But then my mommy brought him home five days later – only, when my she found him, he had some extra white patches of fur that weren’t there before. Do you think that’s a miracle?

Tornquist: Er, um, maybe, Henry. Actually, Easter is not just about eggs or Easter Bunnies – or even hamsters. It’s about Jesus. Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday. But on Easter Sunday, he re-appeared and told his disciples that he was still alive and was going to ascend to Heaven to join his father to give all believers salvation. Now that’s quite a miracle, don’t you think, kids?

Kaitlyn (age 5): I am confused, Mr. T. Why was Jesus on a cross? What parent would allow their kid to play on a cross? He could get hurt. And who’s Jesus’ daddy anyway?

Tornquist: Jesus’ dad was God! And God loves you very much, Kaitlyn. Just like he loves all his children.

Kaitlyn: Wait! So, you’re saying Daddy is not my real dad. God is? Does Mommy know? Did I do something wrong? Is Daddy being replaced by God?

Tornquist: No, no, sweetie. Your Daddy is still your Daddy.

Kaitlyn: So, I have two daddies? Like my friend, Hailey? She has an old dad and a new dad, who’s not very nice, if you ask me.

Tornquist: No, Kaitlyn. You just have one daddy.

Kaitlyn: Could you make up your mind, Reverend Thornsquid? This God stuff is very confusing.

Tornquist: It’s Tornsquid!! I mean TornQUIST! I am sorry if this is confusing. My point is that this Sunday is the day we celebrate the wonderful story of Jesus.

Joshua (age 7): Will Jesus be bringing me an Easter basket filled with Sweetheart candies? Because, if you ask me,  that would be a miracle, since the company that made them went belly-up a year ago, isn’t that right, Reverend Tornado?

Tornquist: Tornquist, just Tornquist. Is it really so hard to pronounce, kids?  And Jesus brings us something even more special.

Joshua: So, he’ll be bringing me a ginormous Robot Easter Bunny?

Tornquist: Not exactly. Kids, I think we may be losing sight of the real meaning of Easter.

Charlotte (age 4): I agree, Principal Turtlekins. The real meaning of Easter is marshmallow peeps. I like the pink ones bestest. What color do you like?

Tornquist: It’s Reverend, and I have not really given peeps colors much thought. Easter is a time when we think about how Jesus came to save us all.

Noah (age 7): From what? Monsters? Because there’s a scary green one under my bed named ZORG, and I’m afraid to sleep alone. Will Jesus protect me and Bandit from ZORG?

Tornquist: Noah, who, pray tell, is Bandit?

Noah: He’s my hedgehog. He protects me from monsters. Jesus isn’t a monster, is he?

Tornquist: Of course not, Noah. Jesus is your friend. He loves you.

Abigail (age 3): But he’s still not bringing me an Easter basket, is he, Reverend Toadkill?

Tornquist: That’s Toadquist… I mean… I’m sorry, Abby, he’s not bringing you candy. But Jesus just might bring you something far more delightful. Want to know what that is?

Abigail: Unless it’s a live bunny, I’m a hard pass. I asked my dad for a bunny for Christmas, but all he got me was an Easy Bake Oven. I think my dad is sexist.

Tornquist: How old are you, Abigail?

Abigail (holding up three fingers): This many years. I like Pez.

Tornquist: You don’t say! Okay, kids, any other questions about Easter I can answer?

Elliott (age 8): Does Jesus have his own Easter Bunny? What’s its name? I like the name Snowball.

Tornquist: Still stuck on the whole Easter Bunny thing, are we? Kids, I have no idea if Jesus had his own bunny named Snowball. I don’t think bunnies were his thing. I think he hung out more with sheep. And he came to save the world.

Zoey (age 5): Including the bunnies, right? ‘Because if he doesn’t save the bunnies, then I don’t like Jesus. He better save all the bunnies. And the kitties. And the horsies. And the ducks and – …

Tornquist: Zoey, I think you may be thinking about Noah.

Noah: What??? I don’t have time to save all the animals. I have homework. And horsies stink!

Tornquist: I was actually talking about a different Noah, son. But that’s a story for another time. Any more questions about Easter, kids – OTHER than the Easter Bunny, that is?

Hunter (age 9): I do, I do, Mr. T.

Tornquist: Yes, Hunter. What’s your question?

Hunter: For Easter dinner, can you tell my mom to serve something besides ham? I’m sick of ham. She serves it every year!

Tornquist: I see. And what exactly would you prefer her to serve for Easter dinner, Hunter?

Hunter: A giant chocolate Easter Bunny! That would be awesome!

Tornquist: Sigh… Well, that’s all the time we have, kids. Join me next week for another session of “Kids, Ask Me about God”, when I’ll invite youngsters to ask about Adam and Eve. (Something tells me I may regret that topic.)

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

A Millennial’s Bill of Rights

A Millennial’s Bill of Rights

Meet Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla and Tyler – five millennials with an important message to share – which they will get around to just as soon as they respond to the latest text from Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla or Tyler.

Meet Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla and Tyler – five millennials with an important message to share – which they will get around to just as soon as they respond to the latest text from Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla or Tyler.

[Note: This week I turn over the editorial reins – and hope I don’t regret this decision – to five outspoken millennials – Ryan, Amanda, Justin, Kayla and Tyler (at right) – who have demanded the opportunity to share what they believe the rest of us need to accept, based on the collective wisdom of young people. Looks like our future is in good hands. – TEJ]

Hey, you Gen X’rs and Baby Boomers. You geezers have called the shots 4 way 2 long. It’s time we millennials explain the new rules. This is our BILL OF RIGHTS, or as we prefer to call it, our BLLORTS.  Just so you won’t whine about having no idea how to “translate” our writing, we’ll use complete sentences (what a hassle), with punctuation and vowels – thgh, srsly, who bthrs wth vwls ths dys?

As a Millennial, I proclaim that…

Climate change is real. It’s going to destroy the planet if we don’t do something about it NOW. I plan to get actively involved, of course, but for the moment I’m busy checking out my options on Tinder and Bumble. But right after Monica swipes me back, I’m all over saving the planet. Text me when Florida starts to submerge.

We need to help people in need. There are millions of people all over the world who don’t have nearly enough to get by. It’s time we look out for those unfortunates. Speaking of people in need, I need you to pay for my airfare home for Christmas. I had to buy a new iPhone X, so my Venmo account is low.  Continue reading “A Millennial’s Bill of Rights” »

The Secret Rules of Chess

The Secret Rules of Chess

Did you know chess was invented in India in the 6th century? An even more obscure factoid is that “The Secret Rules of Chess” were invented by one T. Jones in the late 20th century. It was time someone taught our impressionable youth these new rules. That somebody was me.

Did you know chess was invented in India in the 6th century? An even more obscure factoid is that “The Secret Rules of Chess” were invented by one T. Jones in the late 20th century. It was time someone taught our impressionable youth these new rules. That somebody was me.

[The following is a partially true story.]

As a parent, I have long tried to be a role model for my children. I have always striven to teach my daughters fundamental values like integrity, honesty and good sportsmanship – except when it came to chess. Then all bets were off.

When my girls were seven and eight years old, respectively, I taught them the ancient game of chess (something for which they have never forgiven me). Initially, their skills were rudimentary at best. But after a couple years of patient mentoring, they were able to name most of the pieces on a multiple choice quiz.

Eventually, their games improved to the point that, over their vehement protests, I enrolled them in a chess tournament at a local elementary school. Upon arrival, I noticed that most of the kids and their parents had something in common: almost none of them looked like me. That’s because, of the 300 kids in this competition, 95% of them were either Chinese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani, or some other Asian demographic. I’d heard about Tiger Moms, but never have I seen so many in one room – the intensity in their eyes was daunting. As for the remaining 5% of kids, they didn’t stand a chance.

My girls were born in China, so on paper at least, they fit the demographics. But that’s as far as the similarity went.  Factor in that I was their teacher and they had about as much chance of winning this competition as I had of becoming the next Pope.

The event went on forever, beginning at 8am on a Saturday and ending sometime after I lost consciousness from ennui. Every child played five rounds that day. After one match was over – which in my kids’ cases was usually about nine minutes – contestants were sent back to the cafeteria.

In these long breaks, parents ensured their prodigies devoted every minute to sharpening their skills, practicing feverishly until the next round arrived. I was so bored that after a couple hours, I broke down and challenged some of these youngsters to a game. I don’t want to brag, but there was this one third grader, Jason Kim, who needed 21 moves before he checkmated me. That was my best performance. Most games were over shortly after I located my horse.

This is the scene at the chess tournament I enrolled our girls in when they were in elementary school. What a wonderful way for a parent to kill 10 hours on a Saturday, that is, if you find watching bowling a little too exciting.

This is the scene at the chess tournament I enrolled our girls in when they were in elementary school. What a wonderful way for a parent to kill 10 hours on a Saturday, that is, if you find watching bowling a little too exciting.

No doubt about it, these prepubescent grandmasters were extremely sharp. After a string of five embarrassingly quick defeats, I knew it was time to shake things up a bit. I decided to give these miniature Bobby Fischers a lesson by employing my own Secret Rules of Chess. My next opponent was a nine-year-old named Raza. After a conservative opening, Raza, boldly advanced his bishop into an attack position against my exposed queen.

I contemplated my options, and then, in a maneuver I’m fairly certain Raza did not see coming, I nudged my queen backwards off the board and brought her back onto Raza’s end of the board, putting his king in check. Raza jumped up and exclaimed, “You can’t do that!”, to which I calmly replied, “Apparently you’re not familiar with the Queen’s Revolt.”

He was, of course, more than a little confused, in part because the Queen’s Revolt doesn’t exist (in chess, that is). That’s when I began to weave a tale of how this tactic was first used by the Duke of Hapsburg against the Viscount of Mordovia in 1542.

In game after game, I continued to keep my young foes completely off balance with one surprising technique after another:

The Bad Bishop’s Deceit: My bishop gets to progress diagonally in two directions on the same turn – and can leap over pawns. 

The Peasant’s Uprising: This can only be done one time per game – and only by the black chess pieces (because I was playing black). I can select one pawn to become a queen for four consecutive moves.

The Knight’s Alphabet: Here, my knight can do the usual L-shaped trot, followed by a W-shape, and even a Z.

Storming the Castle: One of my favorites. I jettison both of my rooks in unison the length of the board thereby taking out both of my adversary’s rooks and any other playing piece in their path. This is a particularly powerful stratagem but one which should only be attempted if your opponent is very young and incredibly gullible.

This chess cherub would have defeated me in three minutes had I not utilized a daring, obscure strategy – the Wizard’s Distraction: I exclaim, “Look, a scary monster!”, my opponent turns to look, and I steal her bishop.

This chess cherub would have defeated me in three minutes had I not utilized a daring, obscure strategy – the Wizard’s Distraction: I exclaim, “Look, a scary monster!”, my opponent turns to look, and I steal her bishop.

Of course, with each “secret rule of chess” I made up, I explained in great detail its fake historical origins, dropping the names of plausible sounding kings, earls and baroness, and how, while not recognized in the United States (or China or Pakistan or India or any country where any of these kids’ families were from) they were widely accepted in places like Lichtenstein, Moldova or any obscure European country I was confident they’d never heard of.

I quickly garnered a string of five straight victories. My opponents had no clue how to defeat me. I even trounced the enormously talented seven-year-old Kevin Wong. I must admit, he would have beaten me in seven moves, had I not cleverly resorted to the masterful King Arthur’s Evasion: when he had me in check, I simply advanced my king the entire length of the board, jumping over several of Kevin’s pieces, and took out his rook.

Kevin protested until I patiently explained that this stratagem was first used by King Henry VIII to defeat Napoleon when they met for the World Chess championship in Reykjavik, at the height of the Spanish-American War.

Everything was going along swimmingly, until in the championship round, ten-year-old Raghav Patel employed a daring gambit he had learned from me – the ingenious Sultan’s Escape. He boldly took his king off the board for one turn to avoid being checkmated and then returned it safely to a different part of the board. Raghav was immediately required to forfeit the championship match to his rival, Fatima Shambhani. Apparently, tournament officials weren’t familiar with this move which, as I told Raghav, was first done by a Moghul sheik in the 15th century, during the Irish Potato Famine.

Several parents, who if you ask me, were wired way too tightly, filed a petition to have me permanently banned from any future chess tournaments. I guess some people just have no appreciation for the finer nuances of this ancient game.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

[Author’s disclaimer: To all you parents who by now have concluded I’m a terrible person for duping young, impressionable children with my preposterous moves and tales, let me set the record straight. I won’t deny that I made up all these fake chess moves and ridiculous back stories. But the kids quickly picked up on the fact I was making it all up for entertainment purposes, and they were enthralled and laughed as I demonstrated new ridiculous tactics. And no, Raghav Patel did not try the Sultan’s Escape (though I think he was tempted). And everybody lived happily ever after. – The End.]

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

My Overdue Thank-You Letter

My Overdue Thank-You Letter

Several years ago, someone told me a story about “discovering your grateful heart.” So, I decided to work on that. Over the course of the next year, I sent one thank-you letter each week to a different person who had positively influenced the trajectory of my life. These were people from many phases of my life – family members, co-workers, even a former girlfriend – who had helped me in some way or taught me a valuable life lesson.

But it occurs to me, there are still two individuals I’ve never sent a special thank-you letter to – my daughters. It’s way overdue, because they’re both grown up now (23 and 22) and have moved away, embarking on their own life journeys.

There is so much I would want to tell them. I’d probably start by thanking them for choosing their mom and me as their “forever” parents, as we call it in adoption circles. When they were infants in two different Chinese orphanages, what are the odds they’d somehow get paired with us? Some people say children who are adopted are “lucky.” I say Michele and I are the lucky ones.

I’d thank my daughters for the many evenings they snuggled on either side of me at bedtime as I read them Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Nancy Drew, and countless other books.

I’d for sure express my appreciation for all the handmade Father’s Day gifts, from their cement handprints to their macaroni likenesses of me. And how can I forget to mention the special breakfast in bed they prepared one year. Burnt toast, Raisin Bran, gummy bears, and maple syrup never tasted so yummy.

I’d thank them for all the times during elementary school they would make me laugh out loud as I chased them around the playground, chanting, “Must get Emmy” before suddenly changing direction and shouting, “Must get Rachel,” which always made them squeal with delight.

I’d proudly acknowledge Rachel’s efforts to help her younger sister with her spelling by quizzing her – like the time we were driving past our local grocery store (officially called Quality Food Center, but whose sign only goes by its initials, QFC) and Rachel posed the challenging question, “Emmy, how do you spell QFC? Don’t look at the sign!!”

Continue reading “My Overdue Thank-You Letter” »

My Visit with Mom

My Visit with Mom

Recently, I flew across the country from Seattle to my hometown of Albany, New York, to spend a few days with my elderly mother. While my father died relatively young (at age 64 – a year older than I am now), my mom is like the Energizer Bunny. At 97, she keeps going and going and going.

Well, maybe not exactly. She now needs hearing aids in both ears, her short-term memory has declined significantly, and she is legally blind, able only to make out shapes and colors but with no detail. And she needs a wheelchair to make it any further than two feet. But otherwise, she is doing amazingly well.

While my mother knew I was coming to town, she kept forgetting exactly which day I’d be arriving. So, when I knocked on her room door at the nursing home facility, I entered the room only identifying my presence by saying “Special Delivery for Betty.”  She got momentarily confused, not knowing who was calling on her.

I proclaimed I had a special order of Peanut M&M’s (her favorite candy), but she was still unsure about who was bringing her this surprise. She guessed a few names before I gave her a hint: “It’s your fourth son, Tim!” Suddenly, she lit up like a Christmas tree and hugged me like my visit was the return of the prodigal son.

Her fragile frame, once 5’3”, now barely reaches 5’. But her smile is still radiant. I would be visiting her for the next six days, and all I wanted to do was be there with her and to hopefully add a little sunshine for a few precious days.

Continue reading “My Visit with Mom” »

“You Kids Have It So Easy!” (Parental Lecture, Year 2038 Edition)

“You Kids Have It So Easy!” (Parental Lecture, Year 2038 Edition)

Growing up, I routinely was on the receiving end of my dad’s lectures about how cushy my life was compared to his when he was a youth. “You have no idea how easy you have it, son. When I was your age, I had no television or radio … or heat … or friends. I did 16 hours of chores each week to earn the privilege of sharing a single bed with my younger brothers. And if I got less than straight A’s, for my punishment, I had to paint the barn – with a tooth brush.” At least, that’s how I remember it.

To be fair, my father, who grew up during the depression, had it much harder than I ever did. And my daughters, well, they lived in the lap of luxury, surrounded by computers and smart phones as they kept up with the Kardashians.

It got me wondering. How might my daughters harangue their own slightly spoiled offspring some 20 years from now?  How would they contrive that their young lives in the early 2000s were oppressive? Perhaps that talk might go something like this….

Europa. I know you’re only twelve years old, but I am sick and tired of your incessant whining. You have no idea how easy your life is compared to what I had to endure growing up. When I was your age, I didn’t even have a hoverboard, let alone a levitating hover car.

My parents wouldn’t give me a smart phone till I turned 13. They were so strict. And to text anybody, I had to type on a keypad. That’s right. I literally had to enter a separate keystroke for every character. Telepathic texting was mere science fiction then. But these deprivations just made me stronger. I learned how to wait a full minute for a response to my Facebook posts. Don’t tell me you don’t know what Facebook was. You did a report on it in 5th grade history class.

Continue reading ““You Kids Have It So Easy!” (Parental Lecture, Year 2038 Edition)” »