Guess how much I love you

On Thursday, my wife left me by myself with the kids – always a pre-cursor to something bad happening.  When I came downstairs in their room to play some games with them, I hear Caleb screaming from the bathroom “EWWWWW!!”  I look to see what was the matter.  It was not good.

Andrew was recently potty trained.  We’re proud to say that he has been accident free for almost as long as we can remember now.  However, on this fateful day, he must have had a bit of an upset tummy.  It was tough to figure out exactly what happened.  And apparently, I did not have the poopoo forensic skills to piece it all together.

When I entered the bathroom, I saw a big, soft mound of mushy poo right next to the toilet.  There was some smeared on the toilet seat, and it seemed to have dribbled down the side and landed in the big mound on the floor. 

My first thought was, “Where’s Tenille…”  The horrific realization dawned on me that she was not available and that I might actually have to address this problem.  Unless, of course, I never knew about it… and this whole messy incident wasn’t “discovered” until she came home.  But, I figured she’d make me clean it up anyway…. Unless, of course, I leave in the middle of the night… to run some mysterious errands…. timed perfectly as she is walking into the children’s bathroom.

After entertaining all other scenarios to exhaustion, I finally figured I should just do the right thing and clean this up.  I got a fresh block of wet wipes, and started with the toilet seat.  The odd thing was that it was very difficult to wipe off.  You would think that it would just come clean with one easy swipe.  But, I found that it was dried and caked on.  It occurred to me that perhaps Tenille had the same idea that I had.  That this incident had happened in the morning… and knowing that she’d be out for the evening, she left me with the “gift”.  The thought irritated me as I rubbed and rubbed the dried crud off the top and side of the toilet with a wet wipe, ever fearful that it will tear and the poopoo would contaminate my hand. 

Luckily (considering the situation), the mound on the floor had kept moist, and wiping it up was easy.  No crust to deal with.  As I was finishing up the last bits, I thought that this must be what love is.  I like to think that I’m fairly free with my service to those around me, but this type of service is really ONLY reserved for those that I really, really, really love.   I’ve cleaned up plenty of poopy diapers before (although admittedly not my fair share), but there’s something distinctly special about cleaning up poo off of the floor.  I think about those wives, husbands, sons, and daughters, that often care for their sick or disabled loved ones.  That bathe them. That dress them.  That feed them.  That clean up their waste.   They do it day in and day out…. because they love them. 

When I was done, I went over to Andrew.  I did not want to know how the smear on the toilet seat had happened, but I feared it was likely executed by his bum.  He looked at me innocently.  I said, “OK, let’s see your bum.” and took a peek, afraid of what I’ll find buried underneath his pants – for who knows how long…

To my surprise, there was nothing.  Pristinely clean.   I let out an audible sigh of relief, but a nagging feeling remained of how this all happened logistically.  I confronted my wife when she came home, but she admitted nothing, and looked as confounded as I was.  I never figured it out. 

I was inspired with a book idea, however.   It would be a more intense, real-life rendition of a book that sits on my children’s shelf – “Guess how much I love you…”

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Clayton Christensen: The Survivor

In the March issue of Forbes, there was a wonderful article on Clayton Christensen, best known as the author of the book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”.  I heard him speak once while I was going to school for my MBA.  Looking back, that single talk probably contained some of the best advice I received during my two year program.

As I remember it, it was about drawing boundaries around the things that matter most.  He told the story of when he played Basketball at Oxford University as a center.  They had an undefeated season and advanced to the championship of what would be the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament.  The final championship game was to be played on Sunday.  He had made a commitment to God when he was 16 years old that he would observe the Sabbath by not playing basketball on Sundays.  He was under immense pressure by his team and his coach to play in that championship game.  Needless to say, he struggled with his decision, but ultimately ended up sitting in church while his teammates played the final game without him.  He considers this one of the most important decisions he ever made in his life.  President Monson retold this story in more detail in a General Conference Talk in October 2010.

 

He also told of story of when he started working at a consultancy.  He told his boss that he wouldn’t be working late hours because he needed to get home to spend time with his family.  Furthermore, he would not be working weekends.  When the boss started to push back, he told him that perhaps then this may not be the company and position for him.  This was not a threat – he seriously did not want a job that would encroach upon his family life and he was fully prepared to look for another job.  His boss let him keep to his schedule and he enforced it by taking a bus to and from work and was out of the office before 5pm every day.  With that said, there should be no mistake that he was not a hard-worker.  Anything you read about his life will erase any doubt about his work ethic.  His point was merely that he drew very crisp boundaries early in his life, so that he doesn’t neglect the things that are most important to him.

I’m saddened to hear about his health struggles – cancer, heart attack, and stroke all within a span of 3 years.  I’m sure the challenges he face must have a purpose.  He has been an inspiration to many.  The Fortune article was unlike any other article I’ve read in that magazine.  Clayton Christensen words were as if they were being delivered across a pulpit.   What a wonderful example of handling such adversity with grace and humility.  Thanks, Dr. Christensen!