Monday, September 25, 2006

Lutheran Carnival XXXIII!!!

Lutheran Carnival XXXIII is up at Be Strong in the Grace. Much thanks to TKls2myhrt !

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One Thing Missing

There was one "issue" conspicuously missing at the Image of God Conference. In the presence of so many discussions and presentations about how part of being in the image of God is to beget; with all the talk of contraception, abortion, divorce, illegitimacy, cohabitation, etc. the issue of how to provide pastoral care to those dealing with the issue of miscarriage and stillbirth was noticably absent to me.

Our theology readily confesses that life begins at conception, but in pastoral care, the very reality that God blessed a couple with a child and that child died before the parents could even look upon its face is often not treated as the tragedy that it is. Instead of the grace of God, the couple is often presented with trite phrases:

  • "don't worry, you can always have another one."
  • "at least you already had two kids."
  • "It was God's will."

Or statistics like:

  • "25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, so its bound to happen."
  • "they say that first trimester miscarriages happen because the baby was genetically deformed. It's actually merciful."

To hear this from co-workers and neighbors is hard enough, but from those who are in the Body of Christ, and most notably from one's pastor, is something that should not happen. It does not matter that the parents never knew what color their baby's eyes were, what his laugh sounded like, whether he liked cats or ponies, or if he had 10 toes or 12. They lost their child. The beautiful blessing that God provided to them died, and everything in our sinful being screams out that it should NOT happen.

Often, the father's grief goes completely unacknowledged. Neither one of them know what to do with their pain. Sometimes, even they feel bad because they feel more than they think they ought, and definitely they feel more than the world seems to validate should be there, even months or years later.

They need to be met with the acknowledgement that their child died. They truly lost a child just as much as any other couple whose child died at any age. There is no denying that...though mourning may be decidedly different. Help them give a name to their child. Tell them "I'm sorry you lost your baby." Listen, pray with them, just as if the child had been older or if another family member had died....don't give glib statements like what has just been lost is merely the idea of a child. Suggest a memorial service. Confirm the baby's reality. Give them the comfort of the cross...the comfort that God is merciful and that they will see their child in Heaven.

Along with that, our Church seriously needs to address the pain of infertility. Sarah, Rachel and Hannah in the Old Testament; Zachariah and Elizabeth in the New -- their shame and anguish was clear. In his presentation "The Spitting Image of Love" Dr. Jastrum said that marriage is a reflection of the very Trinitarian nature of not be able to beget is a deep and crushing agony for so many, and it often is not minimized even if the couple already has a child. They know the joy that a child brings, and hunger for more -- it is God-pleasing to do so. Adopting is a good thing, but I have never known a couple where it completely erased that pain. It exists on its own despite the love they have for their other children.

The answers that the world offers to infertility are often evil and dehumanizing, yet the anguished souls run to them without direction because they are not encouraged to seek comfort in God's peace.

We talked about the damage created when we deny the first blessing that God gave Adam and Eve as they were united in marriage "Be fruitful and multiply." What about the pain of those who have their desire and drive to fulfill this blessing thwarted? Both of these issues are part of what it means to be under the weight of sin. And those who are suffering from these anguishes, as well as every other tragedy that we confronted this week, need God's comfort.

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More on the Image of God Conference

I really appreciated the flow that occurred in the presentation of the Image of God Conference. The first day had a focus on the beauty and joy that God gives us in sexuality and marriage. From Dr. Lauren Winner's presentation on the beauties of "ordinary sex," to Dr. Jastrum's presentation on how man is still created in the Image of God, and so is marriage -- and how marriage not only reflects the relationship of Christ to His church, but also the very relationship of the Trinity to itself -- distinct in persons, but one in Dr. Mielander's plenary on "Marriage as a Form of Life."

Day two seemed to have more of a focus on what goes wrong and how wrong it has gotten. By the end of the day, I was overwhelmed by illegitmacy and divorce statistics, horrific revelations on pornography and our children, and stories of divorce, abuse, IVF embryos in freezers, etc. The church needed to comprehend the sheer extent of the evil in order to realize the only thing that could meet it head on is the grace of God....not any method or program, etc.

Day three was once again a little more optimistic. Dr. Beverly Yahnke, with more bravery than I can imagine, got up in front of over a hundred pastors and told them what THEY needed to do to provide spiritual care to those who have been hurt by sexual sins of any and all kinds....and backed it up with examples of how it wasn't being done, and what should be done, while preserving the distance between her profession and that of the pastor with good, solid theology. There were also other seminars on how to meet these challenges, and then there is always blessing in hearing what Dr. Weinrich has to say on anything.

I was encouraged by the number of pastors and their wives present. You don't often see that at a theological conference. In fact, its the first one that I have made it a point to get a sitter and be at. It just seemed natural. I went as a social worker and a mental health counselor in training, but in the end over and above all, I was fed and nourished as a wife.

I couldn't begin to recount all the wise and interesting things said, as I'd hoped to do. All I can say is whatever the tapes or DVDs cost when they do come out...its worth it. If they put on another one, go. Rather than a complete absorption on individual issues and acts, instead it focused on the first gift God gave man, in fact what cannot be removed from man's very nature...marriage...Adam and Eve did not exist to each other outside of that state. Everything else was sin's corruption of that. All over there was a discussion of God's grace, the Means of Grace, the Sacraments and the comfort they bring....even with some presenters from outside the LCMS, it was beautifully and wonderfully Lutheran in all its glory.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Amazing Dodgers

I don't remember the Kirk Gibson homerun, even though it is a part of my soul as a Dodger fan. Its not that I wasn't old enough...I just hadn't discovered the joys of Lutheranism or baseball then (thank you for both, Sweetie). Yet every time I see it played on t.v, I get chills. I got chills Monday night....okay, Tuesday morning.

You have to understand the game chemistry. The Padres always have our number. While they are rarely able to get out of the bottom of the basement, they are always completely efficient at whomping us into the ground. It is not generally a REAL rivalry, because normally, the Padres want us a heck of a lot more than we really care about them. But this y ear, they are dangerous, because this year, they are good (at least when they are not in their own park). If you are watching baseball at all, then you know that this last week, we've been alternating back and forth with them in first place for the NL West. It's been a nail-biter to say the least. Sunday, when the Padres had given us a good pounding, edging their way into first place for the first time in a month, their third baseman commented on how this had been a game "to separate the men from the boys." The one thing you don't want to do if you're not done with a series is truly tick off your opponent, apparently.

Twice, the Dodgers were behind by four runs. Twice, the Dodgers came back. The 2nd time, they hit FOUR CONSECUTIVE HOME RUNS. To tell you how incredible that is, it hasn't happened since 1964. That means it is significantly more rare than hitting for the cycle, even than the triple play. It hasn't happened in my lifetime, or my husband's.

That was the ninth inning. Now we were tied. Unfortunately, in the next inning, the Padres hit another home run and went ahead. Then it was our turn. Marlon Anderson got on base, and Nomar came to the plate, and the instant the bat hit the ball, He let out a scream, pumped his fist, and started jumping....he knew it was gone. It was the most beautiful thing that I'd ever seen.

I'm in awe.

I'm also worried. Now the Padres are gone and the Pirates are here. They have nothing to lose, and they also have Jim Tracy. I weep at the loss of Jim Tracy as our manager. And no one seems to spoil our fun this year like former Dodgers....(fingers crossed...its baseball, I can be superstitious!). We're not smart hitters, either...we're leaving too many guys on base and hitting home runs when no one is on base... and our bullpen is getting tired. One week to the post season......

GO BLUE!!!!~

In the Image of God

I am sorry that I have neglected to blog, now it seems like I have ten posts sitting in my head and I don't know where to start. I have been at The Image of God Conference hosted by the Cranach Institute at the Fort Wayne seminary. It really was incredible. I have long been interested in Theology of the Body and Theology of Marriage issues, and I can't even begin to describe the different presentations as of yet. I need them to gel a little further in my head first. I do pray that this is not a fleeting thing and that it is just the beginning of our church body heading toward a consistent and Biblically defined theology on one of the most precious earthly gift that God has given Man.

I do have to say the picture that they used bugs me a little. It looks like this sweet young woman is enduring this old man's kisses while reaching her hand into his purse. Well, maybe there is a sense of humor in that as well :)

A wonderful man and blessing to our church, Dr. Kurt Marquart, passed into glory on December 19th, only a little while after he had baptized Evan, his great-grandson. Dr. Marquart had suffered from ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. I know that he was one of my husband's favorite professors, and he was honored to study under him.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!


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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Carnival of Homeschooling week 37 is up at Principled Discovery. Check it out!
Another Example of Normalizing Sinfulness

I was watching t.v. the other night and saw a "public service announcement" (and I use that term loosely) type commercial talking about HPV. In case you don't know about what HPV is, it is Human Papilloma Virus. Women are especially at risk, because HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer. The risk of a woman catching it in the course of her lifetime, they say is upwards of 75%. The commercial was recommending PAP tests and even had a mother hugging her teenage daughter saying "I'm going to bring it up with her doctor at her school physical."

The description that they offered of HPV was that it was a common infection. They didn't mention that the main way it is transmitted is through sexual contact, especially the types they are talking about. They also neglected to mention that the virus is so small that it can easily penetrate the membrane of a condom. In fact, because of this, HPV is often left out of the "Sexually Transmitted Disease" discussion, because it is one more point in the favor of abstinence over protection.

Now we have crossed over a line where a sexually transmitted disease is no longer even referred to as an STD, it is a common infection. And why not? If sexual behavior outside of marriage is considered to be a normal and common amusement, then the reprocussions of it will be just as common as sharing an elevator with someone who has a cold. Why should it be differentiated? Pretty soon the risk of getting gonnorrhea, syphillis, or even HIV are just the risks of being alive. Wash your hands, where your glove....

It amazes me at times that in a world where we are encouraged to bleach our countertops, use antibacterial soap, not share drinks or toothbrushes......that very few women look at the behavior of exchanging the most intimate of bodily fluids within their own bodies and say "Hey, maybe chastity makes sense, because otherwise, that's pretty gross."

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Why I Homeschool - Part V Socialization

"WHAT????!!!" you say, "I realize that you hear a lot about socialization when you homeschool, but 3 posts is overkill!"

Please be patient with me, Dear Reader, I promise this is slightly different.

As I've said before "but what about socialization?" is probably the number one question that we homeschoolers get. I love the shocked look on people's faces when I reply "I'm completely against it." And I am. There is very little that the government does that the private sector can't do included. I really don't feel it is in our best interests as citizens to have our children educated by our government. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I'm really not a cynic. Socialized education (as in "run by the government") is not the best option.

"But the government has an interest in having an educated citizenry." I completely agree. The government also has an interest in having an uneducated citizenry. That way they can buy into everything the media says, they lose the power to think through problems, and they learn to rely on the government for the majority of their livelihood. I do believe that most people in education are trying to do what is best for the children. I'm not trying to slam the educational establishment. I just don't believe they CAN do what is best for my children.

I subscribe to many of Charlotte Mason's theories, and I agree that the government does have an interest in having an educated electorate. But in the course of dealing with the masses, so much is lost in the idea of education. This can be seen in the very subject matter (textbooks are dry and unimaginative. They keep the child from actually getting excited about what is being studied), to the crowd control issues of dealing with a large number of kids all the same age, to the political issues of dealing with equality in the classroom and teaching to the level of those that are struggling rather than to those that are excelling. An assumption has to be made about what is normal, and apply that to everyone. This tends to hurt those who are struggling with developing at a different pace, either ahead of their class or behind, and can lead to misdiagnosis of learning disabilities as well.

Government regulation, aka compulsory attendance, also takes away my right as a parent to decide what is best for my children. Of course I want my children to have a good education, and I am willing to sacrifice to give them one. But all roles of deciding when this is the right time for my family, whether this option is right for my family , etc. are taken away. It was not too long ago that most children's education didn't start until eight years old, wasn't nine months out of the year, and still so much seemed to get done. Read Little House books. We're not just talking about the frontier. The parents' role in day to day education was actually most clear in Farmer Boy, which was in the state of New York.
Now, as the quality of education diminishes, the age at which are children our required to be there gets younger. Mandatory kindergarten now exists in many states, and now the push is for "universal preschool." The fact of the matter is, while education is failing our children, the blame is getting put on the parents for not doing what they should be doing in the early years. "Well, they're coming to kindergarten not knowing their shapes and colors." It takes a lot less time to teach a kindergartener their shapes than it does a three year old. It shouldn't be an issue -- and that isn't why Johnny can't read in fifth grade.

When you take away the parents role in key decisions, you take away their involvement in the basic process. Many parents are resigned to having their kids basically belong to the government at age 5, even thinking that is what is best for them, or not thinking about it at all, since it is what everyone else does. Because their commitment to education is circumvented by it being required, their level of involvement is also. So the teachers get the blame when the child is struggling, and the teachers blame the parents for not helping with homework.

Charlotte Mason describes the parent's responsibility as this: Parents have both a sacred trust and a civil trust to educate their child. When God gives children to two parents, they have a sacred responsibility to educate their child to know God and to become educated so they can be good Christians. They have also been given a civil trust. The government relies on the parents to fulfill their civic duty in educating their children so that they may be good workers and good citizens. The parents can choose many different options in doing this, but in the end, it falls on them. Now, we are to trust the government to determine what is best for our precious child, that they don't know, don't care about, and only honor as a body occupying a seat, possessing a textbook, and symbolized by a mark in a log book.

I'm not an idealist. I know that many fall short in this. There are parents who don't look after their children's welfare or make poor decisions. But that doesn't mean the job should fall to the government either. There have always been other options, and there have always been those who care enough to keep trying new ones.

Okay, off my soap box. I'm sorry if this seems a little sporadic and doesn't make any sense. This is the area where I probably struggle the most with HOW to express my beliefs in this area. It is difficult because I am not paranoid, I'm not a hermit (though I'd like to be), and I'm not extreme politically. I even have loads of family that are school teachers. Yet on a practical level, I do believe that how things are being done now is not the answer. I also tend to see most private schools duplicating the way public schools do it and still claiming to provide a better education...or at least one that includes applying the same faulty educational principles to religion as well.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lutheran Carnival 32 is up at Outer Rim Territories!

Seminarian Christopher Gillespie did an excellent job....Muchas Gracias!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why I Homeschool...part 4 -
I've been struggling with how to put some of this into words, and low and behold, Indiana Jane referred me to Barbara Frank's blog, which expresses it so very beautifully!

go to part 5
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Friday, September 08, 2006

Got this from Jane and Deedle . I've done the ones in purple....

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins (they were in the water nearby where I was swimming)
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said "I love you" and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris (Paris casino in Las Vegas? How about Perris, CA...been there too. not the one in France though)
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business (if my rabbits can be called a business...definitely not a profit involved)
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas -- Grew up in Las Vegas!
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Eaten fugu (pufferfish)
89. Had a one-night stand
90. Gone to Thailand
91. Bought a house
92. Been in a combat zone
93. Buried one/both of your parents
94. Been on a cruise ship
95. Spoken more than one language fluently
96. Performed in Rocky Horror Picture Show
97. Raised children
98. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge - well, drove it
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication.
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray - some kind of ray, anyway
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat (remember what they used to say about Jack in the box????)
127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
135. Selected one important author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life're it!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Yesterday, I turned 35. My son sent me an email card that said "you're old." At least my brother didn't call me this year pretending to be an AARP rep. He did that last year. He thinks he's cute...but he's 10 years older!!!

I'm not bummed about it or anything, but I do have a memory going through my head of when the mom on "One Day at a Time" turned 35. "You're not middle-aged, Mom" Barbara said. "You're only 35. Why I was just reading the other day that the average woman lives to be 70."

I think I'm going to go get back on my email and listen to the card that my son sent me saying "You're OLD"

geeesh...I'm young! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I'M DONE!!!!!

I finished 'em. The first sock I did was a Christmas present to my husband (with the other one due on Epiphany). Then, while the length was fine, they turned out to be gargantuan widthwise a touch too sock #2 came about around Valentines Day. But a woman can only take so much. It's hard enough to finish sock #2 because your mind feels finished after sock #1 (I think a truly considerate knitter's husband would volunteer to have a foot amputated.), but to have to do sock #3???!!!!! So I needed a mental break over the Summer.

Anyway...they are finished. And no small accomplishment...3 socks in doubleknit yarn with #1 needles. But I did it! If anyone calls attention to the fact that the left one looks a little smaller than the right one, they are asking for a beating no true friend! It's an optical illusion, I measured them next to each other. Besides, I've been assured that blocking will take care of that! They are on their way to block now. I wonder how long it will be before one accidentally ends up in the dryer.? (good thoughts good thoughs)
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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why I Homeschool - Part 3......Socialization

Gene Edward Veith over at Cranach posted an excellent statement about homeschoolers and socialization. Since his blog gets so busy, and since it is just a paragraph, I hope I'm no offending him by quoting him here also.

Homeschooling and social development

In answer to a comment the other day saying that homeschooled kids lack social skills, etc.: I deny that! And my experience at Patrick Henry College, where 85% of the students have been homeschooled, gives me an abundance of evidence. Our students are MUCH better adjusted than typical young people their age, probably because they have had so much parenting. Their manners, deportment, personality, pleasantness, and conversational ability are far superior to their peers. It is NOT socially healthy for young people to spend nearly all of their time with children their own age, with little interaction with adults. Hang out at the mall or wherever, watch and listen to the typical pack of teenagers and tell me about their "social skills."

There is another side to the socialization discussion though. Of course, there are homeschoolers with "poor social skills." Rebecca Sealfon , winner of the 1997 Scripps Howard Spelling Bee and homeschooler who possesses some truly odd mannerisms, is a regular joke on Cheap Seats on ESPN Classic. But the fact of the matter is, everyone knows a few kids in school like her, too. Or like others. I had a terribly hostile nerdy type guy who sat behind me in science class. He was that way because his life was hard and everyone picked on him. I remember that. The fact is, in school, we are generally happy if we get through the day without someone finding something to scorn us for...and for those labeled "geeks" those days are few and far between.

When we were still in California, where it was nice enough through the Winter to have park days all year round, a family started coming to our homeschool group who were considering homeschooling their five-year old son. We started off each week with our Tiger Cub group, and their son had readily joined in. After a couple of weeks, the father said to me, "this is so great...these kids are the geeks. Yet they are free to follow their interests, and they can be themselves without worrying about it."

My first reaction was "Hey, my son isn't a geek!" but then I realized what he was saying. Deep down, he was scared that if he sent his sensitive, sweet boy to school, what he treasured most about him would be destroyed. His son would learn to be ashamed of one of his greatest strengths. I know that is the same with me. My kids are the same way. Often, their weaknesses are just the other side of their strengths. Sensitive, sweet kids are also emotional and easily stressed. Energetic, vibrant kids have a hard time sitting in their seats and get in trouble a lot. The very aspect of their personality that defines them often gets them made fun of or punished. Often they just need more time to learn to redirect it. In the classroom, they often have a label on them, or sometimes even a disorder, before they can do that. I've experienced it and I've seen it, time and time again. I don't think being in school and dealing with that (or not dealing with it) makes them stronger. I think it just hurts.

So next time, if you see some homeschooling kid with "socialization issues," remember not to simply assume that the parents cause the socialization issue by homeschooling. Maybe the homeschool because they know what would happen to the child they love if he was in school. Also, remember that growing up is an eighteen year process (at least), and that kid may just not be done yet!

go to part 4
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