Tag Archives: boys

Why you should give thanks after reading this

I’m grateful for $13 in my checking account until Tuesday. It helps me focus less on stuff and on what really matters.

I’m grateful for the chance to live by myself in a tiny apartment over a garage  for three months. The quiet here has led to some amazing inspiration and makes me treasure even the briefest of phone calls from home.

I’m grateful for walking down the hallway in high school day after, waiting for the name-calling, derisive comments and the laughter. It prepared me to help my own kids and blessed me with empathy for kids experiencing the same thing. Thanks-in-sand

I’m grateful for church held in an old schoolhouse where our most holy place consisted of a room with folding chairs on a wooden floor surrounded by a chalkboard. It taught me to never take for granted beautiful church buildings that now look and feel like mini temples.

I’m grateful for a dad who thought that watching television with him was good enough for bonding time. It gave me the resolve to be different, to be better for my children.

I’m grateful for those two car accidents on black ice, nearly drowning twice, just missing a head-on collision with a semi truck, nearly getting run over by a tractor and leaving two minutes later so I missed the incredible damage done by that moose crossing the road. It taught me that I’ve been protected by divine sources — that I can’t explain, but know to be true.

I’m grateful for a mom who made me memorize my first public talk at age 7 where I was so scared that I cried. And for that speech in humanities that may go down as the most epic fail in public speaking of all time. From those fails, I learned how to stand in front of a crowd and speak with some power and confidence.

I’m grateful for those who treated me unfairly and placed a tremendous burden on my family. It taught me humility and made me tougher.

I’m grateful for the guy who asked the homeless man in Dairy Queen, “would you like a sandwich,” and then bought him a meal. It taught me that nothing else matters.

I’m grateful to hear words like these, for they have taught me a whole new way to think of gratitude.

Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be. — Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf (General Conference, April 2014)

 

Mr. (Not) Right

Welcome to Team Henneke, where everybody not only wants to be right, but needs to be right.

No way will we give into the other person because that would be — wrong.

We have to be right about everything, it seems. Including the exact date when dad first reached puberty, the number of times he posts on Facebook each day, who did the last load of towels and the proper location for toothpaste on the bathroom counter. mr-right

At our house, folks exercise their right to be right in practically any instance. It could be during a blessing on the food, during a football game or in a room full of VIPs.

As for me, I can’t say here if I am right or not, because somebody might take issue with it. Because it’s my blog, just pretend that I speak the truth for the next 30 seconds.

It doesn’t matter to me as much if I win a debate. I don’t care to defend any allegations that somebody does more housework than me. Or that nobody believes me when I deny any responsibility for using the milk jug as a doorstop.

Actually, it’s quite entertaining to purposely mess with those who have to be right. It shakes them up, makes them question the very reason for their existence.

The key is to calmly state any of the retorts listed below and walk away.

1. The sun won’t come up tomorrow.

2. I don’t owe you any money. If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.

3. Yes, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. I’m not at my best under general anesthesia.

4. I firmly believe Congress will do the right thing.

5. Nobody has shown any conclusive evidence that leaving mayo out for six hours can be harmful to you.

6. That Billy character on Family Circus should do stand-up. He’s that funny.

Now that I know my place, I don’t always need to have the last word. Unless you disagree with me, then I will have speak up.

Because, let’s be honest. It’s the right thing to do.

What the boy said about me

One of these days, it will sink in. Especially when the words come from my own son.

He’s said it before multiple times and I’ve blown it off. That’s nice, I would smile. Now go clean your room. Get to bed. We’ve got more important things to do.

But last night, he said it again, from his bed, shortly before drifting off to sleep.  I was ready to walk out of the room when he called me over one more time. The room was dark and I knelt close to him so I could hear him, my head inches from his face while he talked in quiet tones.

I just got through telling him what I loved about him. Wasn’t expecting him to respond in kind. Wasn’t expecting the level of sincerity, and how the words would hit me hard.

His message? You don’t know how good you are, dad.

You’re more than just a blogger, he said.

You’re more than a columnist, he said. You could have an audience that reaches the whole world. You make people laugh. You make them cry. You have a way with details.

“You’re a legend,” he said.

My first thought: This 14-year-old speaks fluent hyperbole. I need him to run my dad PR firm whenever I get in trouble with mom. What teen tells something like that to their parent?

Wonder what would happen if I saw myself the way he sees me. I bet things would be different. Bet I wouldn’t flounder as much as I feel I do.

After he was done, I thanked him. I told him I needed his help to never settle for mediocrity, to always reach for the stars.

And if he already feels that way about me, then in a way, I’ve already succeeded.

7 tips from the Facebook Dad

No time for moping when there's dad stuff to be done.

I think all my tools from home are gone. That’s probably for the best. I didn’t know how to use most of them.

I imagine that most loose items in the home have been sold or given away. Bedtimes could be blown out of the water, there could be olives in the house or much disrespect directed toward the Vizio.

See what happens when I’m not there? See the chaos that can ensue, the destruction of the space time continuum and new black holes on a daily basis?

You can’t? You’re probably right. Even without the dad, life continues as normal. The dog still smells, the car still works, food still gets devoured and the house hasn’t caved in.

It’s tempting to imagine them saying, “It’s become necessary to outsource you, dad. We’ll see you on the other side. Whenever that is.”

But come to find out, I am still very much needed. We’ve had to rewrite the playbook for these few months while we’re apart. (Click here to catch up on why jobs are forcing us to temporarily be apart.)

So we do the best we can until we can be together again. Here’s 7 ways we work to keep the family unit intact.

1. We try to pray once a night as a family. As often as I can, I participate through Facebook video chat.

2. We talk almost every day by phone. I never let a conversation go by when I don’t tell my wife that I love her.

3. Letters home. I nearly forgot how to print, but that was one of the best Sundays I ever spent, writing handwritten letters to my boys. I need to do that again.

4. Still live the values that I believe, even though there’s nobody in this tiny apartment to check to see if i’m watching the right movie or engaging in other debauchery. I’m still accountable to my family and my God.

5. Let them be surprised when I see them again, that only 1 in 5 socks end up under my side of the bed. Don’t want to shock them too bad.

6. Online grade reports allow to check and see if we need to hold an accountability session with one or both of the boys.

7. It’s fun thinking of all the ways I can tell my wife how much I love her from two states away.

Come to think of it I haven’t sent her flowers in awhile.

That gives me an idea.

What other ideas do you have for us?

 

 

 

 

Don’t tell mom


I wish my Swiffer mop looked this nice, but you get the idea.

Listen up, boys.

The following is Top Secret, Eyes Only, Guy Clearance. Under no circumstances is this to be divulged to mom or your pants will self-destruct during a school assembly. Not even Ethan Hunt will save you.

Don’t tell mom that I’ve vacuumed faithfully every Saturday since I’ve been here or it will blow her mind.

Don’t tell her that I’ve swept (and mopped) the kitchen, cleaned the bathroom floor on my hands and knees, kept the counters cleaned of any debris and the garbage emptied. Her head will explode.

If the police raided my apartment right now, the dishes would be done, all the lights would be off and there would be no naughty movies anywhere. Lab tests on the van would reveal no sign of Taco Bell crumbs. Or any food particles from my time here in Billings.

On second thought, let’s tell her a few things so it won’t mess her up too bad. Tell her that I probably should wipe out the fridge at some point. And I’m making liberal use of paper products to minimize the dirty dishes.

That’s all she knows. Don’t tell her that I washed and dried all my sheets and have only a tiny bit of laundry left to fold. I cook as well in places other than the microwave, say my prayers and get to bed long before the sun rises in the morning.

One more thing. Do tell her that I love her and miss her. That, I do want her to hear.

Read my about page to know we are operating two households for the next few months.

 

Saved in the basement

Photo from randomthoughtsonlifeblog.com

We, meaning I, lead a simple life in the temporary palace basement of Team Henneke.

I have no DVR, no online access without standing on my head, the toilet starts bubbling from the other room for no reason and my television channels consist mostly of PBS stations.

Don’t take this for complaining. For this tiny basement with the square footage of a baseball card might have saved my life.

Melodramatic, you say? Perhaps. It may be a hard thing to imagine because, except for the steady drip coming from the shower, it’s quiet here. The portable gas heater makes a comfortable clicking sound when it runs. And every so often, I can hear the sound of little feet running on the floor above me. It makes me long for home for just a minute.

No, I’m thankful for this temporary life, in a new place, with nothing to do but to practice a little life resistance training.

For the first time, I’m exercising muscles I didn’t know I had. Not the physical kind that require deep heating ointment.

No, I’m talking about life muscles, stretching them just a tiny bit to another level.

It’s not a sudden, dramatic change. It’s much like my longstanding practice to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or to park in the spot furthest away from the store.

Instead of spending hours watching television, I’m writing letters to my family. Instead of eating constantly, I’m listening to good music and reading more.

I struggle some days, but I can feel something slowly changing inside.

About time I grew up.

 

Chasing the perfect ending

I wanted my last Saturday as the Sunday editor for the Democrat-Herald to be picture perfect, something that would make filmmaker Ken Burns beg me to tell my story.

It certainly started out that way, before the night imploded. Two co-workers brought pie, I finished my final column for the Sunday paper and we got word of a great story involving a 60-year-old surfer dude saving the day near a Newport jetty.

Tracking him down for an interview usually takes an old priest and a young priest, a rabid guinea pig and 20 phone calls to friends on Facebook.

Not this time. He actually called me back in less than 10 minutes. It was so easy, Publisher Mike McInally advised me to embellish how I reached him. So as far as you know, I called in a favor to my soothsayer bookie in Tibet.

Not only did we land a very good story with a great photo by Jesse Skoubo, I would still had pie left to eat out of the carton after everybody else left for the night.

Maybe they would make a statue of me for the front of the paper. Future tours would include stops at Mike Henneke’s desk and bow down in reverence where they tiny toilet used to sit. This means I better make time for Matt Lauer.

What’s this? Have to remake a page before deadline because a story was three days old. There’s two more blunders in the Lifestyles section that needs to be fixed. And there’s a glaring error by me on the top of A1.

Suddenly my picturesque little woodland scenario has turned into the beach scene from “Saving Private Ryan.”

My Walt Disney ending turned into something like this.

What a way to go. Suddenly I can picture myself getting escorted from the building and the company tearing up my last paycheck.

Today I came home I came home to find my wife and youngest son reading my column at the kitchen table. I walked back into the bedroom, in preparation for my traditional Sunday nap.

Before I went to sleep, Spencer walked into the room, carrying the section with my column on the front. He had it folded over where I could see my picture on the front.

“Could I keep this?” he asked. “I want to show it to my teacher.”

I looked at him and smiled big. Maybe I found my perfect ending after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reason why we take boys camping

Even at their best, boys can be at their worst. It’s not that they’re that bad. It’s just at times that they are prone to complain, whine, fight, belch, talk back, stink, bully, kick, rationalize and make you dizzy from the roller coaster that is puberty.

And that’s on a good day.

One day, somebody had an idea how to fix that. Let’s take them camping, they said. Let’s remove them from their Life of Sludge, take away their electronic devices, their Facebooks and umbilical cord to the refrigerator, and ship them into the wilderness with other Scouts.

At first they’re numb when they file into your vehicle in the middle of the night, clutching their sleeping bags and tear-stained pillows. They have no idea for sure. For all the boys know, it could be a field trip to the 7-Eleven.

Then after four hours of traveling, it hits them as they look out the window. Nothing but trees, dirt and rocks. Not an air conditioner or Burger King to be found.

It’s a pretty abrupt change for these young men with the initiative of butter, and it sends most into the different stages of grief.

After denial comes anger.

“You did this to me,” they’ll say.

“I’ll get you and your Scout motto, too,” they threaten.

But something interesting happens after the first 24 hours. Some people would call it a miracle. You see two friends barely tall enough to be in the Wizard of Oz pool their money for fishing gear to be used later. Others succeed in overcoming their biggest fears.

Connections are made and bonds are formed here, something that rarely happens during merit badge classes or flag ceremonies.  It’s usually during those unscripted moments, when you least expect it.

It’s still not easy at times, because these are boys. They are the bottom-dwellers that eat our food and complain about our satellite television package.

But for one week, in a place where clean showers are a sign of weakness, boys give you a chance to peek into the future. And for the most part, you like very much like what you see.