[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?
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
For years, sports fanatics have debated which is the most exciting spectator sport. Some argue nothing beats football for sheer intensity and physicality. Others point to the gladiator-like combat of hockey. And some people prefer badminton, but then, some people are idiots. For me, it’s female mud wrestling. I really don’t think I should have to explain this.
But recently I came upon one more contender for your consideration: Soap Box Derby racing. Before you scoff, hear me out. A few weeks ago, I attended the 11th Annual Stanwood-Camano Island Soap Box Derby – the only such event in the entire state of Washington. When I heard the race was coming to town, I immediately submitted my application as a last-minute entry. Alas, I just missed the competition age limit (by 550 months – oh, so close).
First a bit of background. The Soap Box Derby is a racing program for kids ages 7 through 17, which has been run throughout the United States since 1934. The National Championship Finals are held each July at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio. Racers compete in ultra-lightweight unpowered vehicles which they have built themselves, traversing a gentle incline over the space of roughly 1,000 feet, relying on their driving skills and gravity to reach the finish line first.
Having neglected to educate myself on the rich history and subtle nuances of this sport, I had no idea what to expect. I apparently arrived too late to catch the live pre-event concert by the Beach Boys. But what I did see was a colorful parade of home-built cars – 72 in all – each one sponsored by a different local business, like Camano Hardware, the Kiwanis Club, and Rothschild Estates’ White Swan Polo Club.
The competitors took great pride in their vehicles, having sawed, sanded, glued and painted them with only a little help from mom or dad. The Rothschild Estates entry, however, drew a few murmurs as the it appears the family’s footman clearly played a hand in its construction. Continue reading “Soap Box Derby – The Thrill of It All” »
In hindsight, I probably was not quite as strict a disciplinarian with my girls when they were growing up as I should have been. Certainly nothing like how my dad disciplined me. I realize now that I let my kids get off too easy. Case in point:
Me to my daughter Emily when she was ten: Hey, kiddo. Your room looks like a tornado just came through. Would you mind cleaning it up now, before you go out and play? I’d really appreciate it.
EMILY: That’s so unfair. Madison’s parents never make her clean up her room so why should I have to?
ME: Every family makes its own rules, and unfortunately for you, you’re a member of THIS family. Now, just make your bed, put away your clothes and pick up the leftover pizza, and then you can go have fun with your friends. Thanks. I love you.
EMILY: I HATE YOU! You are so mean! You can’t make me!
ME: I’m trying to be patient here. Don’t make me ask you again. Clean up your room now – or else!
EMILY: Or else what? You’ll give me another timeout?
ME: Um, actually, yes. Plus, I’ll take away your cell phone until you’ve cleaned your room.
EMILY: No, you won’t. Because you need me to remove that virus from your computer that you got from downloading that stupid Elf Bowl game.
ME: Shoot. Okay, help me with my computer when you have time, and I’ll let you clean your room later. But that room better be spotless before you leave for school tomorrow morning, you hear me?
EMILY: Sure. Whatever.
ME: Hey, listen, Em. You’ve no idea how easy I am being here. Just be grateful you didn’t have MY dad for a father…. Continue reading “At Least I’m Not My Dad” »
I love my kids. That’s why, when they were young, I made a point to lie to them every chance I could. As any experienced parent knows, you need to lie to your young, impressionable children to help prepare them for their lives as adults – and to help you forge a trusting relationship with them.
Parents who care about their young children start lying to them early in their formative development – ideally while their offspring are still in the womb. Don’t wait until they’re in middle school. By then your chronic pattern of honest communication will likely have caused irreparable damage.
There are many reasons we adults lie to each other: to get out of cleaning the garage despite your wife’s nagging about it for the past three months; to deny that you scarfed down the last piece of your wife’s birthday cake; or maybe to hide the fact that you were really golfing when I, er, I mean you, told the wife you were helping a buddy move. Of course, there are also bad reasons for lying, but at the moment, they escape me.
But when it comes to children, caring parents know that lying is a way to avoid crushing their kids’ self-esteem. It’s not your job to destroy your child’s hopes and dreams by dispelling the myths of their childhood. That’s their future therapist’s responsibility. Your job is to keep telling your kids whatever you need to, to get them to behave, brush their teeth and maybe, just maybe, not kill the family cat, Bonkers.
Continue reading “Always lie to your kids” »
For too long, parents have been pushing their kids way too hard by doing outrageous things like telling them they need to get good grades if they want to get into college or harping on them relentlessly to practice piano for 30 minutes a week if they want to improve their skills. . Those parents are monsters!
When I was a kid playing on various sports teams, year after year, the ruthless message drilled into me was that if you want to win, you have to try hard. And maybe even practice. I internalized this misguided achievement message at an early age. Little did I realize the long-term crippling effect caused by the constant parental pressure to “do your best” as a child. Years later, the damage is evident, as I now have a good-paying job and live in a lovely home in a safe neighborhood that has excellent schools with teachers and coaches who push my kids to do their best. When will this vicious cycle of achievement end?
I have been as guilty as any parent, always sending the overbearing message to my daughters that if they want to get into a competitive college they might consider putting down their cell phone for two minutes and perhaps studying for tomorrow’s final exam. In hindsight, I now realize that all this harsh talk about doing their best and applying themselves was actually undermining my kids’ fragile sense of entitlement.
Finally, a sports league in Canada has gotten its priorities about kids and “winning” figured out. Recently, the Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league of Ottawa, Canada came up with a new rule designed to protect children from the emotional scars of losing in sports. Their new rule? If a team wins a game by more than five goals, that team loses by default. The rule was designed to prevent blowout victories and to encourage good sportsmanship. Hats off to you, Gloucester Dragons Soccer League. Well done.
The results so far have been impressive. Now, whenever a team goes up by five goals, their players usually stop playing, walk off the field, and head over to the playground to climb on the monkey bars in order to avoid accidentally scoring the losing goal. Now that’s true sportsmanship.
I applaud the kid-friendly policy of this Canadian youth soccer league. Oh, sure, some people may criticize this new policy as yet further conclusive proof that the USA can beat the crap out of Canada anytime it wants. But I will ardently defend this enlightened new approach. Our kids’ psyches are extremely fragile from the first 18 months of life until the time when they no longer need our emotional and financial support – typically around age 37.
We need to shelter our children from anything that might damage their self-esteem, such as losing 27 to 0 in a youth soccer match, as happened to nine-year-old Sarah Miller’s team last weekend. Sarah is the goalie. Think of what such a devastating thumping might do to her self-confidence. The last thing little Sarah needs is to internalize that she is a terrible goalie. (Although, as an aside, I have to say, Sarah really sucks at goaltending. She has no business being allowed out of the stands. But please don’t tell her parents you heard it from me.)
As the Ottawa youth soccer league has taught us by its inspiring example, when it comes to our highly impressionable young children, life should not be about winning and losing, or showing up for practice, or getting cut from the baseball team just because little Jimmy can’t seem to figure out that the pitcher’s mound is not first base. Instead, our jobs as parents should be to protect our precocious angels from the real world that is waiting to beat them into submission.
That’s why I’ve adopted a totally new parenting approach that focuses on preserving my kids’ belief in their greatness, regardless of evidence to the contrary. In the past, if a teacher gave my child a D on an important math test, I’d probably have a serious chat with my child and ask why she chose to stay up till 1am playing Candy Crush on her cell phone instead of studying for the test.
But now I realize that such an interrogation might harm my child’s belief about her incredible brilliance. Now, if that same teacher were to give my daughter a D, I’d immediately berate the teacher for unfairly downgrading my child’s score simply because she gave incorrect answers. After all, when it comes to what’s right or wrong on a math text, who’s to say what the real answer is to 12 minus 5? It’s all so subjective. And I would be sure to praise my little princess on her outstanding choice of using a #2 pencil and remind her that she’s still an A+ student in my book.
Childhood flies by so quickly. You will have plenty of time later on to awaken your kids to the reality that life does not always even up the score to make sure everyone’s a winner. Let someone else teach them that the world does not owe them a six-figure income and a penthouse condo by age 25. Now is the time to remind your young superstar how special they are – even if they just tripped and did a face plant during a soccer game, and did so while only riding the bench.
So, this summer, if by some act of blatant favoritism your perfect son or daughter does not get picked to play on your neighborhood’s Select soccer team, remember that your child is still incredibly gifted. It’s not your child’s fault that she skipped all the practices and couldn’t be bothered to show up for tryouts. That just means she has more time to work on that perfect tan this summer. She’s going to be a suntan superstar, I just know it.
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.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014