Our family recently travelled to Disneyland, so we could spend our life savings on churros. It was our second son’s “last hurrah” family vacation before he leaves for his LDS mission to Uganda. I KNOW, RIGHT? I didn’t know where it was, either.
Now some of you may not understand what a “last hurrah” is. My oldest son, Ashton, started the tradition, calling every discarded curfew, late night Halo party, Crown Burger hoark-fest and reason to borrow and spend too much money, his “last hurrah”. As in;
“It’s my last hurrah, Mother...Father. Before I selflessly leave you and all that I hold dear, for TWO YEARS, to serve the Lord and bring souls unto Christ. These final, cherished memories and experiences...hurrahs, if you will...are all I ask before I bid you adieu. Please, do not begrudge me these fading, precious moments.”
Ashton Bingham = Spin Doctor.
Anyway, second son has taken over where first son left off, and our lives are once again centered around last hurrahs. Which is how we ended up in California.
We spent several days with princesses and wicked queens before braving the insanity that is L.A.’s freeway, so we could tour the backlot of Universal Studios.
And now, I will never again watch a television show, movie or even commercial without a hint of cynicism, because NOTHING was as I had perceived—not the streets, the campgrounds, the town squares—NOTHING! IT’S ALL JUST A BIG, FAT LIE, YOU GUYS!
And don’t get me started on the homes! What looks magnificent and grand on-screen? Well, turns out they’re only partial facades made to look stately with a special camera angle. ANOTHER WORMY APPLE LIE!
So this got me to thinking about a recent trip my dad and I took, to visit my grandma in Clifton, Idaho. Every turn in the road had a tale to tell, and my dad would give me the history of each landmark—which always seemed to contain tragedy, mental illness and wiener pigs...(hand waving dismissal)—it’s hard to explain.
Anyway, we drove past a pretty, red brick farmhouse, and Dad told me that every new farmer to the area would drive his bride through the countryside, looking for property. The wives were enchanted by this home—noticed it was the biggest and best in the neighborhood and wanted the instant status that owning it would bring. Surprisingly, there would be a For Sale sign in the yard, and they felt this was divine intervention in their behalf.
Well, even though the home was desirable, seems the soil itself was not. In fact, it was barren, never providing a single harvest. And after a couple of years of fruitless reaping, hand wringing over unpaid bills and realizing the beautiful facade told nothing of the ugly reality, the bride would pack up her dishes and the sign would reappear in the front yard, awaiting yet another unsuspecting couple ready and willing to take a bite out of that wormy apple.
I think there are an awful lot of wormy apples out there.
Years ago, a well meaning woman told me that if I wanted my daughter to be a cheerleader, I would need to get her involved in dance, cheer, gymnastics AND hire a personal coach by the time she was three years old. That’s right, three.
Never mind that tryouts weren’t for another decade. It was still imperative that we spend enormous amounts of time, effort and money, on a pretty little red brick farmhouse while my daughter’s soul turned rocky and barren because her entire self worth was tied up in how she looked holding a pair of pom-poms.
Of course I have nothing against being a cheerleader—I was one, remember? And I could jump kick the heck out of a football game. But that wasn’t all I was. When the uniform came off, as it always does, my parents made sure my spirit was rich and fertile. They forced me to...I mean, I WILLINGLY served my neighbors, baked bread, read books and rode my bike. I was an artist, a babysitter, an entrepreneur and an honor student. And okay, sure, that last one may not have continued into my college years, but my point is this;
Spending that much time and effort on a beautiful facade while what lies beneath shrivels and dies is a recipe for disaster. Which is why I never did get her a coach. Go ahead—call DCFS.
It still remains to be seen whether or not she even tries out. But in the meantime, I take great pleasure in pointing her toward the piano and commanding her to practice, telling her to apologize to her brothers and making her clean the cat-poop out of the litter box. Because I’ll be darned if her soil isn’t as valuable as her farmhouse!
And don’t worry—she’ll thank me one day. Bless her shiny, red heart.