Kindness Matters: How to Talk to Your Kids About Being a Good Friend 

It’s important to remember that your children learn their most valuable skills from you. Here’s how to teach your child about being a good friend.

Friends are the family we choose. They help enrich our lives and support us through the trials and tribulations of daily life. However, being a good friend is something we need to learn.

So, how do you teach your kids about how to be a great friend? Here are some hints and activities to help you teach this valuable lesson.

Lead By Example

Kids are natural-born mimickers. Think about how many times you have heard them copy something you have said or done. So, why not use this to help you teach valuable lessons on friendships to your toddler.

Let them play nearby when you are having a friend over for a cup of coffee. Praise your friends in front of your children. Make sure they see you doing kind things for your friends.

This will set the stage for any little ones in your life to see the positive ways friends interact.

Read Books About Friendship

Not only is reading a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your child, but it can also help you teach them about being a good friend. Plus, there’s an almost never-ending supply of children’s books on friendship.

Here are some great choices:

1: Frog and Toad
These books show how friends who have very different personalities can work together and build each up other in positive ways. It also demonstrates the importance of sharing, listening, and being supportive.

2: George and Martha
A favorite of parents and youngsters alike, this book teaches kids about the importance of boundaries, why practical jokes aren’t always funny, and how sometimes the best times you can have with a friend is simply sitting around doing nothing.

3: Sparky
This charming story is about accepting friends for who they are and not trying to change them. It is about celebrating differences and loving your friends for who they are and not what you want them to be.

Talk To Them About What Makes A Good Friend

Having frank conversations with your preschooler about what makes a great friend is one way to make sure they really understand what that means. By highlighting that good friends share, listen to each other, use kind language, and remember important details about each other, you are explaining the traits your child can strive to develop.

Having clear examples like “doesn’t it feel nice when someone tells you ‘good job’?” or “thank you for sharing your toy with me. It makes me happy when you do that” can help children grasp these concepts.

You can also use holidays like the international day of friendship and even Valentine’s Day to teach them about celebrating friendship. This is a great chance to show them how days like this can remind us to let the people in our lives know how much they mean to us.

How To Make Friends

Making friends when you’re young can be easy for some children. They simply approach a peer and ask to be their friend. Other children may find it a bit more difficult.

One way to help timid kids is to role play meeting new people. By having it be part of make-believe time and turning it into a game, you are taking the pressure off your child and turning the idea of making friends into a fun activity.

Or get them to practice saying “hello” to other children. Then move on to asking them if they want to play. Once children start talking and play with each other, friendship grows quickly.

Demonstrate Kindness

We all know it is easier to be friends with someone who is kind. So, by teaching your children how to be kind and compassionate people you will help them to create lasting bonds with friends.

Get in the habit of saying please and thank you when you ask your child to do something for you. This will give them positive behaviors to model and help reinforce how to talk to people in a kind way.

Also, be sure to praise them when they remember their good manners. It is amazing how a simple “I really like it when you say (insert kind word here)” or “Thank you for remembering to (a kind word here)”. It makes me happy when you do that” can help to solidify how important kindness is to young children.

Talk About Emotions, Even the Negative Ones

Talking about different emotions, especially negative ones, can actually help kids create meaningful relationships. By acknowledging that everyone feels sad, angry, hurt, or frustrated helps to ensure your child understands this is a normal part of life.

Plus, when they are able to discuss these feelings in a positive and productive way, instead of acting out, they are learning how to be more empathetic and loving toward others. It turns out having emotional self-control helps us to identify emotions in others and put ourselves in their shoes, an important skill when it comes to forming friendships.

It also helps with problem-solving skills. When children are able to identify negative emotions, they are able to narrow down why they are feeling that way and figure out how to overcome it.

This is useful when it comes to conflict resolution in relationships. They are able to speak up for themselves when something goes wrong or they are hurt instead of lashing out and making the situation worse.

Being A Good Friend

These are just a few tips on how to teach your child about being a good friend. There are plenty of other great resources from books to websites to television shows available to help you.

For more great parenting guides, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.

Predetermined and Preconceived Expectations (My Take on Encores, Bartering, and Who Pays for Dinner)

Yes, the title is redundant.  But there isn’t a more appropriate way to describe how ridiculous some of our modern traditions are.

Since the 7th grade, I have been to more concerts than I can count; starting from  when Christian rock music was still awesome (from 1992 to 1998) with now defunct bands like dc talk and Audio Adrenaline, to current favorites like Guster and John Mayer, to class acts like Michael Buble.  I love music and I love concerts.  (Yes, there are people who don’t actually like music at all.  They are the ones who say they like all music, including both rap and Country equally.)

After you’ve been to a few concerts, you become overaware of how virtually every concert will end:  After the “last song” is finished, the band hurries off the stage while saying “Good night (enter name of city where the concert is), you’ve been great!”  But the lights stay off in the auditorium or arena.  This gives the necessary opportunity for the audience to cheer “Encore!” or “We want more!” until the band predictably returns to the stage to perform a few more songs- where they typically include at least one acoustic version of one of their songs and also one of the band’s most notable songs they conveniently left out of the main set.

Fact: Encores are lame.  I say either [crap] or got off the pot.

In my mind, this concept clearly relates to the mostly un-American tradition of bartering.  During my first summer teaching English in Thailand, I paid full price for souvenirs.  If a price tag had said that an imposter Hard Rock Café: Bangkok t-shirt would cost me 7 or even 10 bucks, I paid it.  Because that sounded pretty reasonable to me.  But by the end of that first summer, as Thai friends starting accompanying me, I learned that the asking price was not meant to be taken seriously.  If the asking price was $10, the after-barter price was typically as low as $5 or even $3.50.

As an American, I had been used to finding my own way to negotiate prices in America: With coupons or Internet specials, or simply just “price shopping” until I found the store with the cheapest price.  I pride myself in never paying full price for anything if I can help it.  But in Thailand and in so many Third World and developing countries, there are no coupons or Internet specials.  Instead, you barter with the merchant.  Otherwise, you get hosed.

Unnecessary map of Koh Samui, Thailand

Granted, bartering does indeed exist in America.  Like when you buy a car, go to a garage sale, or buy something off of Craig’s List.  But typically it’s not worth my time to do business that way.  I’d rather spend my time finding the product somewhere else where the price is firm and already low.  Otherwise, I will not be an active consumer.

Fact: Bartering is lame.  Instead of getting involved with the predictable “buyer asks too low a price, seller asks too high a price” banter, I will simply find another way to buy the product.

Lastly in my trilogy of examples is the awkward game of “who’s paying for dinner?”  If I am going to buy someone’s dinner, I am very clear with them up front before we arrive at the restaurant: “I am taking you to dinner.  I really appreciate how you (I name the reason I am buying their meal, even if it’s as simple as thanking them for their general kindness and friendship).”  There is no guessing to be done.  I am buying their meal.

That means when the waiter comes by the table when it’s time to pay up and asks, “Will this be together or separate?” there is no grabbing for the bill by both me and the other person.  I don’t like the feeling that I owe someone for anything unless there’s a good reason for it.  So this whole idea that “you bought my meal this time, so I’ll buy yours next time”, it doesn’t work for me.  Because then I have that “IOU” hanging over my head.  Let’s make it simple.  If you want to buy my meal, tell me up front.  As I will do the same.  Otherwise, it’s assumed that we’re paying separately and the only bill anyone grabs for at the end is their own.

Fact: I can’t truly enjoy a meal if I think there’s a chance that I am expected in the least to grab the other person’s bill.

I live a simple life where clear-cut expectations make me happy.  This is my version of reality.



Does Facebook Make Life More Real or Does It Actually Take Away from the Realness of Life Instead?

And is it possible that the facebook world is more of the real world than the actual real world?  And why is facebook noticeably less interesting on the weekend and during holidays?


Editor’s note: Keep in mind that with any of my posts, if you see something underlined, you can click on it to read another one my writings specifically about that phrase, or it may even lead you to a Wikipedia entry, which is equally as exciting.

Like most tricky open-ended questions I propose to world-wide audiences, it depends on the perspective and lifestyle of the person being asked.  But since part of my job as a writer who strives to be unpredictably provocative is to choose a side and stick with it, I have a firm answer for this “there’s no wrong or right answer” kind of question.  Often, the side I choose is the least expected one:  I am typically wired to root for the underdog.  So of course, anyone who reads my writings regularly should correctly assume that every time I will be defending the less popular answer.

Obviously, the overtly “correct” answer is that facebook takes away from the realness of life.  It prevents us from actually going over to each other’s houses and playing Yahtzee like we should.  It keeps us from calling our family members on the phone when we can just read their status update or look at their newest pictures.  Facebook is single-handedly deconstructing what real relationships are all about.  Facebook ironically eliminates actual face time with the people we are close to.  Therefore, the people we are “close to” literally become distant from us.

And while I acknowledge the relative truth in the paragraph above, it’s not the school of thought I am compelled to believe as my own reality.  In my version of reality, facebook actually makes life more real.  If I really want to call a person, or invite myself to drive to their house, I will.  Facebook doesn’t stop me from doing that.  Maybe that makes me old-fashioned.  But for me, facebook actually enhances the relationships in my life.  I often actually have more to talk about with people on the phone or in real life, sometimes because of something that happened on facebook.

Admittedly, out of my nearly 800 facebook friends, it’s safe to say that I literally don’t know who a quarter of them are.  The majority of my facebook friends are not people who know me well enough to have programmed my number into their cell phone number.  But when I propose one of my deep questions like the title of this post, or “what makes a person normal?” it’s often these exact people who are the first to respond.  Interestingly, the people who typically respond to my randomness are not the people I see on a regular basis or even within the past year or two.  (And for the people who I actually do see and talk to on a regular basis, I’m asking these questions to their face and they are answering in person so there is no need to answer on facebook.)

So what does that say about how facebook enhances relationships?  For me, I’d say it completely sustains the friendships which would have likely disintegrated if not for the opportunity to casually engage in a brief, random conversation topic without the commitment ever having to say “hello” or “goodbye”.  But is there any possibility that facebook is actually more of a reality than actual reality? I say absolutely yes.  It just depends on your definition of “reality”.

I have written before about how the time we spend at work is not the real world, but instead a necessary Avatar world or Matrix or lucid dream (reference to Vanilla Sky) that we enter in order to fund the actual real world.  Therefore, the true real world is the “off the clock” reality where we spend time with friends and family, along pursuing our own interests and hobbies.  With that being said, if the real world is largely defined by the people who are who are important to us outside of work (though obviously everyone has some “real friends” at work who supersede both realities), then I have to acknowledge that the interactions I am involved with on facebook are in a sense more “real” than most of the other hours spent each day.

To me, when I jokingly harass my arch nemesis/friend Ben Wilder via a wall comment, or I “like” someone’s picture of them embarrassing themselves, or I send a message to a friend about weekend plans, that’s more real than the four collected hours I spent talking to clients on the phone at work that day.  It’s more real than the round-trip hour I spend in the car driving to and from work each weekday.  For me, true reality is all about the people who mean something to me, whether those people are literally in the room there with me, or 700 miles away but on facebook.

The proof in the pudding for me is when I check out readership trends on this site, Scenic Route Snapshots.  There are typically hundreds of more readers on normal weekdays, compared to weekends and holidays.  That’s because people escape the fake real world (their work life) by playing on the Internet, therefore entering the actual real world.  Ironically, this post was written and ready by Thanksgiving Day, but I had allow for the holiday fallout to settle before publishing it.  Otherwise, it could have gone unnoticed.

Granted, I’m old-fashioned in that I still believe it’s rude to answer your phone or reply to a text message while in the physical presence of friends or family, especially during the middle of a conversation.  It’s a matter of prioritizing your reality.  Your top priority is those who are literally in the room with you.  It bugs me so much when I am making an effort to physically be in the same room as a person but I am second rate to another person they are talking to via text message or smart phone, who is just as real as I am, but isn’t actually there like I am.

So despite making an argument that facebook enhances reality and is actually more real than reality in some cases, I still acknowledge that respect for physical presence should not be forsaken.  Of course I completely understand who so many people feel that facebook takes away from real life, because honestly, the invention of the Internet and facebook is a lot like a modern rebuilding of the Tower of Babel- which is something I’ve noticed and written about before.

Ultimately, facebook is an enhancer of the life that already exists- like the way salt magnifies the flavor of food.  If you are already a social person who has healthy relationships with people in real life, facebook probably adds to the quality of these relationships.  If you are already a person who is not good at corresponding with people who are outside of your immediate circle, there’s a good chance you either ignore those “outsider” facebook friends even more or find them to be the most annoying (though you still haven’t gone through the trouble to delete them).  And if you’re a person who loves Farmville… I’m amazed you broke away long enough from tending to your goats to read this.

Statistical Bonus!

Below, notice the typical drop in the number of views on Saturdays and Sundays, the major drop on Thanksgiving Day (November 26), and the overall drop during the entire week  of Thanksgiving as compared to every other week.  That’s why my catch phrase for this site is “a great way to get distracted from life”- because more people visit here when they want to be distracted, not when they are actually hanging with people in their  true “real world”.

Daily Views on Scenic Route Snapshots

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total Average Change
Oct 25 

676

Oct 26 

747

Oct 27 

885

Oct 28 

695

Oct 29 

749

Oct 30 

809

Oct 31 

701

5,262 752
Nov 1 

652

Nov 2 

823

Nov 3 

910

Nov 4 

927

Nov 5 

835

Nov 6 

612

Nov 7 

588

5,347 764 +1.62%
Nov 8 

817

Nov 9 

766

Nov 10 

889

Nov 11 

741

Nov 12 

642

Nov 13 

552

Nov 14 

621

5,028 718 -5.97%
Nov 15 

732

Nov 16 

1,044

Nov 17 

935

Nov 18 

1,031

Nov 19 

984

Nov 20 

657

Nov 21 

891

6,274 896 +24.78%
Nov 22 

715

Nov 23 

701

Nov 24 

665

Nov 25 

617

Nov 26 

497

Nov 27 

538

Nov 28 

628

4,361 623 -30.49%
Nov 29 

655

Nov 30 

779

Dec 1 

776

2,292 737 +18.25%


Nick Shell vs. Ben Wilder: The Facebook Frenemy Wall Battle of Belittlement

Finally, after over two months, the inside joke is turned inside-out.

Within two weeks of me moving to Nashville (September 11, 2005), I was befriended by a guy named Ben Wilder.  He told me about the Green Hills Mall reopening and giving away $50 gift cards for the first 100 people who showed up to the front door.  So we camped out in the parking lot the night before the Grand Re-Opening (sleeping in our cars) until a few hours before the doors opened.  Ben brought with him a TV and DVD player on a stand and showed the movie Hitch to all of us waiting there at the front of the mall.  It’s possible that the off-beat “hey, I just met you” activity defined my future friendship with him.  And that our matched quirkyness makes for a good duo.

October 2005/Green Hills Mall parking lot: Pictured from left- myself, Ben Wilder, and Kyle Benn (though he was not crucial to this story, he did help facilitate my wife and I to start dating)

Ben and I have a lot in common: We are both from the South (he’s from northern FL; I’m from northern AL).  We both graduated high school in the late ‘90’s (1997 for him and 1999 for me).  We are both 5’ 9”.  And we both have a type of journaling website.  Realizing that we are so well-matched, I decided to call him up a few months ago from the Stoney River parking lot in Franklin, TN with a challenge: To see which of us could get more hits on our websites per week.

Turns out, that wasn’t really a fair challenge because I had my website for a few months longer than he did and the snowball effect of readers I had was a major advantage for me.  So I tried a new challenge.  I dared him to incorporate Yanni’s album name Optimystique into one of his post and have it still make sense.  He succeeded (http://benwilder.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/will-you-accept-this-prose/).  Then he challenged me to incorporate Joey Lawrence, Taylor Hicks, Lady Gaga, Will Smith as Hitch, and Tim Hightower into my mine.  I succeeded: America’s Got Talent But That Doesn’t Mean They Have Fans.

The only next logical move was to begin publicly belittling each other through each other’s facebook walls with open-ended, sarcastic and subtle insults about our frenemy’s personal tastes, amount of common sense, knowledge of social cues, and questionable sexuality.  Of course none of these assumptions were true, but the objective was to attempt to get the opponent’s facebook friends to think the comments were real.  Surprisingly, I personally only had a few of my facebook friends question me about it or comment on our comments.

I’m not officially saying that our facebook wall battle is over, but we did recently decide to stop and explain to the general public what has been going on this whole time and recap our progress.  So yes, this may be the obvious “jump the shark” moment that jinxes and therefore ends the campaign.  But that’s a risk that both Ben Wilder and I recognize and are willing to take.  In reverse chronological order, here is the recap of our insults.

The Facebook Frenemy Wall Battle of Belittlement

Nick ShellBen Wilder: I read your Tweet. Twice in the same day? That’s too bad you had to learn the hard way, as an adult. From now on, just remember to do a little research first by asking around and looking for context clues before asking when the baby’s due. Too bad it was your boss at work and also the preacher’s wife that you said that to. Good luck on that.

Ben WilderNick Shell: Nick, I’m sure I’m the last person you want to hear from right now. I didn’t know the cops were going to take action immediately after I called you in as a stalker. Honestly, I thought you and I could’ve worked it out privately, but last night when I caught you staring in my window–again–I had to call the authorities. I hope you understand (given the circumstances) that lunch on Wednesday is off.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: You know, I have to admit, I’ve never heard of a guy selling Mary Kay, but if anyone could pull it off, it’s you. Just think, you do enough Mary Kay parties and you can have that pink Hummer in about 7 years. But I know that’s cool with you anyway since pink is your favorite color- because you constantly write about it on your website. I’m like, “I get it, I get it”, you like pink.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: No, don’t stop writing him letters! Just because he’s going to get the final rose tonight doesn’t mean you have to discontinue writing to Roberto. He’d probably appreciate maintaining your friendship. Just my two cents.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: : That is a pretty good deal- that you bought a year’s worth of tanning bed visits and got a month’s worth of visits for a friend as a bonus. What a generous offer, but I think I’m gonna have to pass on the free month of tanning, this time around.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: I must admit, you’re the first person I’ve ever known to buy a sidecar for your motorcycle. I’m just surprised you bought it so you could ride in it while I drive the bike. And yes, I saw the pictures you tweeted of the t-shirts you had made for us when we go driving tomorrow. The one for me that says “The Boss” and the one for you that says “Santa’s Little Helper”. And you said your t-shirt is Bedazzled?

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: I didn’t know it mattered. Sorry. Next time I’ll walk with you to the men’s room. Usually girls go to the bathroom in groups, sorry.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: Thanks for the tip! I did what you said. Good news: I was able to get your Taylor Swift lunch box autographed for you. Bad news: I sold it on Ebay for profit. Good news: I used some of the money to buy you a plane ticket to “crash” at The Bachelor Pad. And yes, I made sure, both Wes and The Weatherman are going to be there.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: Hey sorry I missed your call last night. And no I couldn’t get her autograph for you. Try commenting on her myspace page, I think its myspace.com/taylorswift.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  What can I say? Of course I feel honored that you so highly live by the teachings of my writings- in particular: “How to Wear Pink, If You’re a Guy”. I just think for your own safety, though, it’s not the best idea to go around ripping off the shirts of guys you see wearing pink with khaki pants, declaring, “You’ve been Nicked!”

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Pam Price Williams: You boys are funny, and I’m glad I know you…both of you!

David Stanley: I think we have a new saying…how many people have you “Nicked” today?

Nick Shell: I think we should incorporate “Bunny Bucks” into the system somehow.

David Stanley: for every 2 people you “Nick”, you earn 1 bunny buck.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: Nick, I can’t make it to your instructional seminar tonight. Actually I didn’t even know you had a “Crochet Certificate for Instructors.” Makes sense though, because your crocheted scarf patterns last year were the talk of the retirement community. Glad your sharing your skills now. I’ll be at the Hard Rock tonight.

Flood Benefit feat. Creed | Hard Rock Cafe | Rock | Nashville Scene

http://www.nashvillescene.com

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  That’s a good question. I’m not really sure what all it takes to get licensed to drive an ice cream truck. I mean, officially, at least. I know you’ve been practicing the last couple of weeks just for fun, but, yeah, I don’t know. Good question. Good luck with that, though.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: Did you win your eBay bid? If you end up winning, congrats! I know much you’ve always wanted Bob Saget’s autograph. Now once you get Uncle Jesse’s you’ll finally have autographs for the whole cast of Full House. Awesome.

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Nick Shell: Hey… Cut, it, out!.. How rude!

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: : I would never have said “it’s as easy as taking candy from a baby” if I would have known you would make it a game to see how much candy you could literally take from babies (mainly in grocery stores and church picnics) then brag about it in your blog. Wait… do you have any Three Musketeers in your stash?

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: Nick, I know. You don’t have to explain it in detail, and actually I’d prefer it if you didn’t. But use the cream the doctor gave you. That’ll dry up the rash.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: Well, I know, but just because it’s something you do in the “Internet world and not the real world”, you can still actually be arrested for it. I agree, acting like you were from England to get people to send you money through their hotmail accounts may have been an easy way to make a few easy bucks, but it’s still actually illegal. Don’t worry though, I won’t say anything about it to anyone.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: you’re kidding me right? If you’re telling the truth, I think it’s kinda cool you used to be a choreographer. Do a lot of people know this video is a dance you choreographed? 00:58-1:00 the dancers in the background definitely look like your work.

Arsenio Hall Show – Color Me Badd – All For Love (1992 Live)

http://www.youtube.com

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Nick Shell: Yes, it’s true. I’m that talented. The most impressive part of this: I turned eleven years old in 1992.

Ben Wilder: You were Justin Bieber before Justin Bieber was cool.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: : I’m really interested to learn more about how you ended up teaching yourself to spay and neuter animals while you were in college. You kinda left things vague where you mentioned it under “info” on your facebook profile. Like was it part of an elective course or just a hobby?

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: I am a Droid.

I find Nick Shell’s pocket and hide there.

Every time he hears “droooiiiiiid” he says, “what? where!?”

Because the noise was either me in the front pocket,

or in his underwear, a droid droplet.

Droid.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder: No, not really. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily “wrong” or even illegal to marry your 2nd cousin. You might even be able to keep that part a secret since you both have different last names. But like you said, maybe it’s just a crush.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: That’s hilarious! I thought you would’ve got Slater, but the quiz said you have a Screech personality? Wow. Do you think they’re right?

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  Hey thanks for returning my hair clippers so quickly- you know, the ones you borrowed last week… Though I’m a little confused why they’re all jammed up and smell funny now. That never happened before when I used them to cut my hair…

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: Did you ever catch the train? Ohh, did you mean you were buying a training bra? I thought you said you were buying a train ticket. Sorry.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  I’m no specialist, but I would say that eventually your 8 year-old nephew will grow out of his bedwetting stage. But it may help if you… oh, I mean… if he doesn’t drink as much soda pop while playing Dungeons and Dragons after dinner. That’s really the best advice I can give you. Oh… I mean him.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: you WOULD join “Team Jacob”. Come on, Nick. This whole time you had me believing you were siding with Edward.

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Rhonda Walsh Hendricks: I knew it. Traitor.

Ben Wilder: You had us all fooled, didn’t you, Nick? If that’s even your real name.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  So look, I appreciate you dropping off the box of Amway cleaning products at my house. They were indeed successful in getting out the stains in my carpet which you made in your demonstration, though I’m still not quite sure what that brown stuff was in that jar you poured out. Nonetheless, I’m gonna pass on becoming an Amway sales rep with you. Sorry, but good luck on that. Maybe you should use your facebook status update to try and recruit more Amway salespeople. No?

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: Hey Nick!! Dude, I can’t believe I found you on Facebook. Last February I randomly saw your name scribbled in a bathroom stall at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama so I wrote a note to myself to try to find you on here. Four months later, I found the square of toilet paper in my jeans pocket and remembered to look for you! Gosh, man, what have you been up to all these years???

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  Well I must say again it was really wonderful having your parents visit church this past Sunday. And no matter what funny looks your mom thinks she may have received, we are very accepting, no matter how a person comes dressed. Though I will say, it may be the first time a woman has ever worn combat boots to our church.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: Nick, I need to send you a private message about something. I’m pretty upset about it. Remember that poem you submitted a few years ago to the “Nashville Has Poets and Knows Its!” competition? Did they ever find out you plagerized? I had no idea till this morning when I read the lyrics to Red, Red Wine (by UB40) and low and behold, the verses are the same as your poem. Not cool, man. You shouldn’t have submitted a poem anyway; it was for elementary-age kids. But I’ll send you a private message about all this.

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Nick Shell: No, they never found out it was “plagerized”. But they did find out it was plagiarized.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  I feel kinda awkward about bringing this up, but my niece is starting to ask me where her DVD is. You know the one- Hannah Montana: The Movie. Are you finished burning it to your collection yet? If not, I might be able to delay, but just for a few more days. Also, I hate to be a nag, but… do the words “Justin Bieber” mean anything to you? Yeah, you’ve had that CD for a while now. I need to return that to the public library. Overdue fees are adding up…

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: well, that’s why she called the book Pride AND Prejudice, because Elizabeth struggled with prejudice and Darcy struggled with pride. So they both had to work through their issues before a relationship could work. It’s funny what you said about Mr. Collins though, how if you were a girl, you would have been a cougar on the hunt for him.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  I kinda feel bad about my initial reaction. The truth is, I’m really happy for you. It’s just that I’ve never known anyone that has done the whole mail order bride thing from Russia. Really though, it’s cool. Have you and Henka set a date for the wedding? P.S. Does she speak any English?

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Britney Grayson: ummm I am a hysterically laughing member of your studio audience! These things crack me up!!!

Jennifer Moore: I agree with Britney! …totally just laughed out loud!!

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: got your message. Can’t make it out to the “Lecture On Skid Marks: On The Road and On Your Undies” today but have fun. I hope there’s no scratch & sniff exhibits there.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  So I read Chris N.’s Twitter about your trip to Orlando last week. You two were college roommates? Why didn’t you say something sooner?! Anyway, that’s cool that you finally got to check out his favorite “guilty pleasure” Mexican restaurant that he mentioned on the show. And… Congrats on getting to try out for the next season of The Bachelorette. I hope they pick you! Maybe you can be “Rated G”?

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: I can’t believe you went through with it! When you said,”I want to be a man, I want to be a man for that woman,” I didn’t know that meant you were getting a tattoo on your lower back! Can’t wait to see it!

Joe Hendricks likes this.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  So listen, I won’t be able to make it to the Captain Planet party you’re hosting tomorrow night at your house. I wish I could see you dressed up in costume. If anyone can pull off a blue mullet, red underwear, and an exposed midriff, it’s definitely you. I’m really impressed how you take “going green” to a whole other level!

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: hey, I have an answer for your question. Turns out IBS medicine is supposed to be taken orally, not rubbing it into your skin. Hopefully this problem clears up for you soon, though.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  So look, the pink My Lil Pony bedspread you ordered is actually only available in purple right now. Is that okay? Or is that too masculine? Anyway, just me me know…

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Joe Hendricks likes this.

Ben Wilder: I’m more upset at Joe than Nick. How could you like this Joe, how could you?

Joe Hendricks: It brought back memories of me beating up My lil pony’s with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But, I know how you feel…. My sister wanted the pink…. purple sucks.

Ben Wilder > Nick Shell: I saw you filling up your “green” car with gas at BP. Not cool, Nick, not cool.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  Oh man, I heard what happened. That must have been so embarrassing. I’m of course referring to when you showed up to host the dinner theatre show “The Merlot Murders” and you learned halfway through from an audience member that you had dog droid all over your pants. Ouch.

Nick Shell > Ben Wilder:  Your face is a Droid.

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Ben Wilder: I’m gonna droid in a bag, light it on fire, and put it by your front door around 7pm. Cool?

Picking Up Where We Left Off Last Time: Going Back to the Future After “To Be Continued”

The phrase “to be continued…” is a way of life for me.

In the summer of 1988 one of the things I remember most is watching reruns of The Incredible Hulk with my mom.  So many of the episodes ended with “to be continued…” flashed up on the screen.  For some reason, that really excited me.  Even to this day, if a TV show ends with that phrase I like it more than a regular episode.

Yes, closure is an important part of life.  But in my mind, the door is never really closed just because time separates me from another person.  (Obviously, I’m not including the given exception of ex-girlfriends. Instead, I’m referring to everyone else.) Childhood classmates and guys from my college dorm.  Anyone I’ve ever met in my life- I don’t forget them.  I may not remember many details about them- but at least in the smallest of ways, I remember them.

Therefore, something I have to remind myself of is this- my way of thinking and exceptionally good memory are not necessarily the norm.  Just because I can remember specific quotes from something someone said in 5th grade, it doesn’t mean they do, or necessarily even care.  The file folder in my head for that person reads “last seen: May 1998- to be continued…”  Theirs for me reads “last seen- sometime in high school- relationship terminated/cancelled”.

When I am reacquainted with a person I haven’t heard from in years or decades, I have this habit of immediately bringing up the first positive memory I have of that person.  For me, it’s like time never passed.  Interestingly, that’s how I think it will be after we die and are reunited with people in eternity.  Since time doesn’t really exist in the afterlife, we just pick up where we left off.

dad from day one: Proud Papa

Twenty weeks.

*Did you hear about this blog from American Baby magazine?  If so, click here to get to the main page (table of contents) for “dad from day one”.  There’s a whole lot more where this come from…

During the closing credits of my favorite movie of all time, I Love You, Man, Barry (Jon Favreau) finds out his wife Denise (Jamie Pressly) is pregnant after she vomits on him at the wedding reception.  With puke on his shirt, he says to her, “Please, try to make it a boy.”  Barry is a Type A jerk, inhabiting every memory and idea of a typical beer-guzzling frat boy.  So of course, having a boy (instead of a girl) would be very important to him.

Being that I’m nothing like that character in the movie, instead being much more like the main character, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), I had just always assumed I would have all daughters.  Here’s the picture I had in my head of my future family: Me, wifey, three daughters, and two Cockapoos (or Labradoodles).

It just makes more sense that a guy who has no interest (or talent whatsoever) in sports or hunting (or anything proving I’m man enough by showing my “game face”), but instead has always been enthralled in everything artistic (drawing, entertaining, acting, singing, songwriting, writing) would somehow automatically make a better father to daughters instead of sons.  So that’s part of the reason I was so authentically surprised to learn that our baby is a boy.  Like somehow I deserved a son less because I’m not a certain macho stereotype I’ve memorized from three decades of watching sitcoms and movies.

And now, I have to admit, there’s a part of me that can’t help but laugh that without any preconceived hopes or crossed fingers, I get what every man secretly hopes for- a son.  There’s an unspoken concept (at least in my mind) that raising a son is a rite of passage for a man.  A coveted elective course, a special honorary badge, an engraved trophy so easily received- to be a father to a son.  A chance not so much to relive my own life, but to enhance another future man with all the life experience and knowledge I’ve learned the hard way.

The movie I Love You, Man is built around the fact that male friendships and bonds don’t often come so easily.  By a man having a son, he is automatically given that opportunity- to nurture a male the way every boy and man craves to be taught and directed.  What I lack in knowledge of fixing cars and football statistics and home repairs, I can make up for in teaching healthy communication skills and anything that falls under that categories of “literary”, “artistic”, “psychological”, and “entertainment”.

In other words, I have a feeling I will be raising  the likeness of a future Jewish comedic actor, maybe the next Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the next Shia LaBeouf, the next James Franco…

A well-rounded people-person who is confident in who he is, that’s who I predict he will become.  Who knows?  Maybe he’ll be a quiet, mild-mannered, studious, future accountant.  But with a dad as quirky and Hawaiian-shirt-wearing as me, I just don’t think he has a chance of being anything like Clark Kent.

Baby Jack's body is the length of a cantaloupe this week.

Here’s what The Bump says about Week 20:

Baby’s digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth. And, speaking of the diaper situation… baby’s genitals are now fully formed!

To return to the “dad from day one” main page, click here.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

The Importance of a Setting in Real Life, Not Just in Fiction

 This could be Heaven or this could be hell.What makes old graveyards creepy, besides our sneaking suspension that the bearded ghost of a Confederate Army General will appear through the foggy mist and try to tell us a haunting story of he ended up with a hook for an arm?  (Pirates don’t have exclusive right to those things, you know…)  Take away the graves and all the preconceived ideas that human curiosity has handed down to us over the centuries, and chances are, the land itself is still not a beautiful piece of land to begin with.

I assume that the land used for graveyards and cemeteries often was the land that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing as the acres used for building homes, schools, and businesses.  Safe to say it wasn’t feng shui. 

Instead it was the leftover, out of the way, dreary land that someone was just trying to get rid of.  So they sold it for less than they would have liked to an investor who saw its best potential and destiny was for it to become a graveyard.

We choose destinations for a reason.  Why do coffee shops serve as such a great pre-date and unofficial first date venue?  Because there are plenty of other people around in a coffee shop whose collected friendly conversations make for the perfect background murmur, so that while the two single people are surrounded by people, it’s intimate enough of a setting where they can, in a sense, feel alone- without the awkwardness of actually being alone when they don’t yet know each other that well. 

If nothing else, the coffee itself serves as a convenient social crutch, as mentioned in Campfires.  A coffee shop is a setting of safety, comfortableness, and relaxation, as well a symbolic “garden of growth”.  I know this first hand:

Before I asked out my now-wife to the sure-to-get-a-second-date John Mayer concert, I primed our new friendship with several Sunday night meets at the local Starbucks.  It was the coffee shop that watered and fertilized our friendship into dating, then a little over a year later into marriage, and two years after that (present day), a baby.  A human life is scheduled to make its first out-of-the-womb appearance this November.  And it all started, in theory, by me choosing the right setting- which in this case was a coffee shop.

What if instead of asking her to coffee when we first met as strangers, I would have asked her to dinner?  It could have been awkward.  Eating with a stranger she just met the week before.  I could have ended up in a category of guys she had dated but it never really went anywhere- and I wasn’t willing to make that gamble. 

I knew that if I built the relationship on true friendship first, it would be much more natural and relaxing to eventually eat a meal together at a restaurant.  But not before coffee at a Starbucks.

We can choose where either good or bad memories will take place.  Where does a guy propose to his fiancé?  Where do parents announce to their children that they are getting a divorce?  Because those places will never be the same again after that.

Where were you when you found out the cancer is in remission? Where were you when you heard about the two planes crashing into the Twin Towers?  Those places will always be associated with the big news, good or bad.

It’s why the phrase “may I speak with you for in a minute in my office, please?” is so epic.

Whether we choose the place, or it chooses us, the setting is everything; lasting an entire lifetime as it attaches itself to a memory of hope or a memory of damnation.