Posts Tagged ‘Joe’
I walked out of the restroom in the Albuquerque airport last night and got whacked in the face with a lizard.
The father was horrified. Not the lizard’s father; the father of the boy who was swinging the lizard by its tail just outside the restroom door. It was a rubber lizard. The tailed stretched easily and the circumference of the swing went much wider than the boy intended.
“I’m sorry Daddy, I didn’t mean to,” said the three-, maybe four-year-old boy as he tried to collect the lizard from midair.
“No worries,” I said more to the mortified father than the boy. “Been there, done that,” I added trying to smile and trying not to touch the spot on my cheek where I was grazed. I did not want the dad to feel worse than he already did.
Parents live with one minor fear and one major fear when they take their young children to crowded venues. The minor fear is that their young child will get lost or, heaven forbid, be taken by a stranger. The major fear is that their child will do something embarrassing that disturbs nearby strangers and, worse yet, cause people to whisper, “They’re bad parents.”
A little bit of vigilance ensures a child’s safety. Parents hold their child’s hand or perhaps grab hold of the collar of their shirt when passing through a thick crowd of people. If the child’s still small enough and the crowd is particularly large, parents pick up their child and hold them close.
The embarrassing moments are more difficult to avert. It can happen at any moment in the blink of an eye. You can be standing in an airport waiting for your wife and daughter to return from the restroom.
Your young son is fidgety. He starts picking things up off the floor. The unknown object is headed for the mouth so you quickly grab it and in its place put a toy in your son’s hand. You look over your shoulder to see if you wife is on her way back… wham.
A passing stranger gets whacked in the face with a flying lizard.
It’s every parent’s nightmare. Sometimes it comes true.
It is great having young children. There also is some relief as they grow older. You are able to put your minor worries aside and relax, at least a little, knowing your children are savvy enough to stay safe even in crowds.
On the other hand, Joe was dancing down the streets in San Francisco while on our August vacation. He did a spin move as we rounded a corner and crashed into two women walking toward us…
Yeah, been there, done that.
Hang in there lizard dad.
“Look, look,” Joe, barely five years old, shouted from the back seat of the car.
I turned to see what the commotion was about and realized Joe was pointing out the car window at the hayfield we were driving by. I didn’t see anything unusual. It was just like the thousand other hayfields I’d seen in my life.
“What is it, Joe,” I asked.
“Giant fried tofu squares,” he shouted back excitedly.
It was at that moment I thought our kids might be spending too much time in Boulder.
Joe went to preschool at a place called Alaya while we lived in Boulder and continued there after we moved to Longmont. I can’t say enough good things about the school save for their choice of snacks. The kids were often given tofu, cut in the shape of rectangles, lightly fried in olive oil. To the eye of a five year old it might look like a miniature hay bale.
Joe loves tofu to this day. I can’t stand the stuff.
Hey, I was raised in northwest Kansas. There are just some things that make me uncomfortable. Beans dressed up to be meat is one of those things. I like my meat to be meat.
Early in our marriage, Joni tried to get me to eat something called a “tofu pup” without telling me what it was. I wasn’t fooled for a second and refused to take a bite. It tastes just like a hot dog, Joni protested – further evidence that Joni never appreciated a good hot dog. The tofu pup was grey, skinny and scary. I’ve never completely forgiven Joni for this attempted ruse.
People commenting on my choice of clothes is another thing that makes me uncomfortable. Not long after I began working in Washington, DC a male coworker – originally from L.A. – stopped me in the hall and remarked, “I like your outfit.”
I just looked at him. I had no response. We’d become good enough friends I decided to tell him what was racing through my mind. “Where I grew up,” I began, “men don’t wear outfits. Please don’t ever say something like that to me again.”
Now, he didn’t know how to respond. This is a man who freely admitted that he had his hair cut by a hair stylist – again, he was from L.A. I suppose he too felt as though we had become good enough friends that he could say what was on his mind. After an awkward silence he said, “You’re weird.”
Shoulder rubs by acquaintances… definitely makes me uncomfortable. The traditional handshake suits me just find when it comes to body contact with a people I don’t know well.
The guest speaker at our Rotary Club a couple of weeks ago asked the group to do a warm up exercise before he began his program. I was forced to participate. I was sitting too near to where he stood. I couldn’t slip away to get a second cup of coffee without being obviously rude.
“I would like everyone to stand up and get into a circle… no closer,” the speaker directed.
I knew that whatever was coming next couldn’t be good.
“Turn to the left,” he continued.
I waited in momentary dread.
“Rub the shoulders of the person in front of you,” he said too cheerfully for seven in the morning.
“Argggg,” I thought hoping I wasn’t audible; and it wasn’t because it was talk like a pirate day.
I try to keep an open mind. I try to look at the world from other people’s perspectives. I try to have new experiences.
But please… don’t ask me to eat soybeans in a meat dish; don’t talk about my clothes (unless you’re talking behind my back), and don’t ask me to rub an acquaintance’s shoulders.
* * *
Picture credit: From Oklahoma State Divisions of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources
John and Joni Creighton were married on August 19, 1989 in St. John’s Catholic Church in rural Rawlins County. In twenty years of marriage, they have lived in Boston, Massachusetts; Falls Church, Virginia; Bethesda and Rockville, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado. They have called Longmont, Colorado home since 2001. Both John (1983) and Joni (1986) are graduates of Atwood High School.
John is the son of Robert and Barbara (Wilson) Creighton. He was born in Atwood on October 11, 1964. He followed the family tradition (fifth generation) attending the University of Kansas where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with degrees in economics and business administration in 1987. He received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1990.
John worked on Governor Mike Hayden’s campaign staff in 1986 and 1990. For the past 20 years, John has worked as a public leadership consultant with a focus on public opinion research. He worked for The Harwood Institute for Public Innovations from 1991-1999. John founded his own consulting firm in 1999. Most recently, John agreed to write for the community section of the online edition of a major national newspaper.
John is active in Longmont, too. He was elected to the St. Vrain Valley School District board of education in 2007, the same year he succeeded his father as president of the High Plains Bank Holding Company.
Joni is the daughter of John and Betty (Rooney) Mickey. She was born in Atwood on May 20, 1968. She was a member of the Atwood High School state cross country championship team in 1986.
Joni attended Kansas State University and graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Maryland in 1994. She worked in the emergency room of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, as a floor nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland and as a research nurse in Boulder, Colorado.
John and Joni have three children, Emma Cloe born on May 26, 1997; Joseph Paul born on August 7, 1999; and Ada Grace born on December 18, 2001. All three children were born in Boulder, Colorado. Emma, Joe and Ada Grace hold the distinction of having two grandparents serve as Mayor of Atwood – Bob Creighton, 1983-1991 and Betty Mickey, 1999-present (Betty is the first woman and longest serving Mayor in Atwood history). The children enjoy visiting Atwood where they take swimming lessons most summers.
* * *
Submitting to The Rawlins County History Book
My son is dealing with some sad news – sad news for him. For the second time in about as many years, one of his best friends is moving. In both cases, their dad’s professional opportunities took their families away from Longmont.
I sometimes think about the parade of friends that left my life in grade school and junior high. Jimmy Wilson, Ken Stonebreaker, Ricky Michel, Bret Maris, Greg Hale, Brad and Bruce Holaday, to name a few – all important people in my daily life and then they were gone.
The good news about the world we live in today is good-bye isn’t what it used to be. Saying good-bye today is temporary. In the past there was much more permanence to those words.
Most of you who read this blog are friends from a time past. We’re back in touch through the magic of social media. Over the past nine months I have reconnected with countless friends (well, I could look on Facebook and give an exact count). I occasionally read or see snippets of your lives. In some cases I’ve restored connections with people who I had not heard from in some 20 years.
Without a doubt, I am a fan of these new ways of communicating.
When my friends moved away from Atwood we sometimes made heartfelt pledges to stay in touch. My parents would encourage me to write or call (after 7 p.m. or on weekends). But we didn’t. The level of effort to communicate was more than an eight, ten or twelve year old boy will make. Over time, we lost touch with each other. Our relationship became nothing more than youthful memories.
I think it will be different for my son. Email, text messaging (when he’s older), Facebook and Twitter (when he’s ready) have reduced the barriers of communication to almost nothing. I keep in touch with the parents of Joe’s friends using these tools. That’s how we learned about a house sale and purchase.
My oldest daughter, who bought her first cell phone this month, keeps in touch with a friend from middle school orchestra through text messages. They live in distant parts of town. She has become close friends with Amy Milton’s daughter Elly even though they live thousands of miles apart through the power of email and occasional time together in Atwood. These are the types of relationships that were hard to nurture a generation ago – 10 years ago.
There is nothing like being able to run down the street and knock on a friend’s door, “Can you play?” That type of intimate relationship is impossible to replace. That is just as true today as it ever was.
But, when childhood friends are separated by geography it is far easier to stay connected – even closely connected. While saying good-bye has and will include tears, it makes the transition from neighbor to friend just a little bit easier.
If good-bye is necessary it’s a good time in history to say it.
“Rules are open to interpretation because they contain words.”
That statement was made by a consultant who has been working with the St. Vrain board of education, of which I am a member.
He couldn’t be more right. Anyone who has children knows this statement is true. In fact, when the consultant made the remark the first thing that came to my mind was my ongoing dinner conversations with Joe.
“Joe, would you please eat the rest of the food on your plate. Mom didn’t give you much.”
“You mean all of it?”
“Yes, Joe. Please eat everything.”
“Even the asparagus?”
“You only have one spear.”
“I was just checking.”
“Yes, Joe. Please eat the asparagus, too.”
“Is that enough?”
“I asked you to eat everything.”
“Well, I ate quite a bit.”
“You’ve only taken two more bites.”
“Well, I didn’t know you wanted me to eat everything.”
“I asked you to eat everything.”
“Well, I didn’t know that meant all of it.”
“Okay. Joe. Please eat everything single thing that is on your plate. All of it.”
“Do I have to finish the chicken, too?”
“I’m just asking.”
My Dad invented this snack – at least as far as I know. He often ate it on summer evenings after long runs. I picked up on the habit at about nine or ten years-old. It’s been my favorite snack ever since – though I only have the snack occasionally now. It’s best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk.
Here’s a video by Emma in which I show Joe and Ada Grace how to make the best snack ever.
Pickup theater season kicked off this weekend.
I played pickup basketball and baseball when I was young. We played basketball in friend’s driveways and at the tennis courts by the Court House. Our baseball fields were vacant lots behind the Christian Church, the corner of 8th Street and Highway 36 and the southeast corner of the Court House block.
Our games had little organization. Whoever showed up, no matter what age, was in the game. Sometimes we put together loose organization that lasted for a few weeks. We had a three-on-three baseball league at least one, maybe two summers – The Holaday Twins and Rod Briggs (sometimes Greg Green) were the northern team; Doug Trail, Tim Yount and Matt Cunningham represented the south side of town (Tim’s roots were in the south), and Paul Hayden, Mark Buhler and I, along with substitutes who we could recruit were the Central Atwood team.
We even went so far as to make homemade uniforms. Kids of every generation seem to love uniforms and costumes. You can make out a few jerseys on Gene Currier’s video clip.
Our kids’ interests are different than mine were as a boy. Somewhere along the line, our kids got a theater bug – especially Joe. When the kids were very young they became infatuated with a movie version of CATS. It’s a love affair that has lasted almost seven or eight years.
Last summer the kids organized an acting troupe they call the Pratt Street Players (we live on Pratt Street) and did a performance of CATS for parents and all the neighbors the kids could recruit.
The practiced every day, three to four hours, for nearly a month in our garage. My office is located in a loft just above the garage. If you would like me to sing you a CATS song, I’m capable.
Our kids have long put on after dinner performances when we have friends or family over to our house. A typical performance included more time figuring out who is going to do what and competition between “directors” than actual acting.
We told the kids (okay I told the kids) if you’re going to invite people to a performance you need to be a bit more polished. I was blown away by their production. It included a buffet of food to be a “dinner theater”; a stage crew who operated everything from background to strobe lights and ticketed seating.
The song and dance numbers were more than a bit polished. Kids from age six to eleven danced in (almost) perfect sync. Best of all, they had a blast.
They have decided to do a reprise of CATS. Rather than a one night only performance, they’re planning a three night run sometime in late June. They’ve already enlisted their grandma Mickey in making costumes. They’ve put together a practice schedule. And, they’re recruiting a larger cast.
Just like the pickup games of my youth it’s a “no cost camp” that keeps the kids entertained for hours on end. And, I’ll get to bone up on my CATS songs since my office still sits above the theater.
You never know for sure when your children are saying something of importance. I know I should always be patient and attentive. I try. Some days it is more difficult than others.
Case in point, a travel day during our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Brazil.
We were beginning the third and final leg of our adventure – traveling from the northeast city of Recife to Manaus in the heart of Amazonia.
The plane travel consisted of two three-to-four hour flights – first from Recife to Brasilia and then Brasilia to Manaus.
Joe was in his normal question asking mode from the moment he woke.
“Do you think there will be a lot of people on the plane? Will it be full? Will we have to sit next to someone we don’t know?”
“I don’t know, Joe. We’ll have to wait and see.”
“What’s your prediction?”
“Yes, there will be someone in our row.”
“Why do you think that?”
“You asked me to predict.”
“Do you think we’ll get sandwiches on the plane?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s your prediction?”
“I don’t know, ham.”
And on. And on. And on.
We were waiting for our second flight from Brasilia to Manaus. Joni left for the restroom. The kids and I stayed at the gate. I was getting tired. The kids were restless. A voice came over the PA giving notices about flights. I thought I should listen. The questions kept coming.
“Just a second Joe, I’m trying to listen to this announcement.”
The announcement didn’t seem to amount to much so I lined up the kids for a picture. My goal was to keep them occupied so the restlessness wouldn’t turn into arguments. A photo op seemed like a good way to kill some time. The kids complied some more willingly than others.
Joe and Ada Grace went back to the chairs and began playing some type of word game. Emma stayed against the wall listening to a book on her ipod. I paced a little, tired of sitting.
After five, maybe ten, minutes Joe piped up, “Hey, Dad.”
“Yes, Joe,” I sighed.
“Can I tell you that thing I was going to tell you a while ago?”
Very casually, as if commenting on the weather, he said, “So, I was looking up at that TV up there and it said our flight has been moved to Gate 1A.”
Suddenly, I had a moment of panic. I looked around and saw that we were one of the few people at this gate. There were no agents to be seen.
I walked quickly to a monitor to find our flight status. Manuas, Gate 1A. Final boarding.
“Oh crap. You’re right Joe. Kids grab the bags.”
We started to run as fast as we could toward Gate 1A. I urged Ada Grace to do her best with those little legs. She was a trooper but lagged several paces behind. Joni was just returning from the restroom. I tried to explain the situation as we went so she would understand the urgency.
As we approached the new gate, just in time, Joe looked up at me and asked one more question in the best Donkey from Shrek voice he could muster, “Whaddya say?”
“Thank you Joe.”