Reading "The Great Brain" to My Kids

Yesterday at the gas station I look to see a small farm truck parked a few pumps away. An older man with a cowboy hat was filling some gas cans in the back of the pickup. A feeling of gratitude sparked in me as I recognized him as my 3rd grade teacher. I walked over to him as my vehicle was filling up, and he recognized me after almost 25 years. “I’ve been reading The Great Brain to my kids” I proudly said to him. He smiled and we shared a brief conversation, and I hope he felt the gratitude I have for him having read to us rowdy 3rd graders. The Great Brain books by John D Fitzgerald were about a boy who grew up in a fictitious town near Cedar City, UT around 1896. The older brother, Tom, is known as “The Great Brain” and he uses his brain and his “money loving heart” to swindle almost anyone he can, but mostly his own little brother. Despite the series of stories of a possible crook in the making, Tom, often uses his brain to help others. The books always teach a lesson, and give you a few good laughs along the way.

So, last night, I read to my 3 girls in one of The Great Brain books that we picked up at the local library. We read how Tom used his brain to help an uneducated and untamed 12 year old tomboy of a girl named Dotty to learn to read, write, and get along with the other kids. Dotty’s mother died when she was young, and her father (like many of us men) had a hard time communicating with Dotty in a way that matched his love for her.[images style="2" image="" width="541" caption="I%20love%20Mercer%20Mayer's%20illustrations!" align="center" top_margin="0" full_width="Y"]

Then came the part when Dotty receives a gift from her father.   It represented a significant sacrifice for a man down on his luck and even lower on his confidence. More so, it represented the love that he always had for his daughter, and somehow until then, wasn’t able to clearly share it. I lost it. My girls asked why I was crying, and I just told them that I understood what it means for a Dad to love his little girls. Then they all tackled me and smothered me in hugs and kisses.

What a blessing it is to be entrusted to raise these precious angels from heaven!  No matter the level of confidence. No matter our financial, social, or physical resources, we make all difference by loving them as best as we can.

So, if you’re reading to your kids already, consider The Great Brain in the line-up, and if you’re not reading to them, now is always a great time to start.

Jimmy Coray is the founder of Every Mountaintop, an addiction recovery support program that helps individuals and families overcome  the limiting beliefs and behaviors that are keeping them from blissful recovery.  Jimmy has felt the devastating effects of addiction in his own life, and is driven to reach out to strengthen and support others by connecting them with the most effective resources for success.  Jimmy is also the founder of 26 Peaks in 26 Weeks, a weekly hiking club that has hiked the tallest peaks in the Wasatch Mountains as a way of getting out of the world where the air and your mind are clear.  Jimmy shares his tips and thoughts on positive recovery on his youtube channel


Booger Songs

I feel so blessed. Last night I drove to the dollar store with my 9 yr old and 5 yr old. All of us in our jammies and me grossing them out by singing made-up songs about boogers. Then my 9 yr old started singing some old songs from musicals I don’t think I’ve seen, but she knows them by heart. Silliness was abundant. Smiles all around. It was a rare occasion for me. Most of the last 5 years I’ve been too busy with our family run business. If one of our kids told me at bed-time that they needed poster-board for a report due the next day, I would have been upset, grumpy, and disagreeable or worse. More likely, I wouldn’t have even been around. Too busy to give them the time and attention they desperately wanted from their dad.

I’m not trying to paint a pity-party picture, just a reference so you know I can relate to all of us parents trying to do too much of the wrong things. Also, just like you, I’m not as bad as I tell myself. My kids love me to pieces, and even with all the mistakes, I know that I’m a good dad.

Even being a good dad, it seemed that my kids would rarely do what I asked of them until I raised my voice or pestered them all along the path of dirty clothes and crayons on the floor. Many times I asked myself why they were so good at blatantly ignoring me. Don’t I have authority to tell them what to do? Aren’t I teaching them what is good for them?

So why am I telling you about our trip to the dollar store in jammies with booger songs?

The last few years, Shelly and I have been to scores of business trainings, read truckloads of business and personal development books, and participated in hours and hours of business coaching and consulting. One thing that we learned from Brenden Buchard is a secret to drawing in customers. The formula he gives is that you give, give give, then you ask. You give your customer good information that they can use, teach them about your product and how it will help them, and be genuinely interested in helping them first, then you ask them if they are interested in buying a product or service. Make it about helping them and not how you can use them.

How many of you have been to a tradeshow where there were certain booths you avoided like your kids’ stinky stocks? Last year we hosted a booth at the Pinners Conference in Sandy, UT and 3-4 booths down from us was a company that had their salesforce pouncing on people. They treated the attendees more like mice to catch than a person to build a relationship with. We watched as people would very visibly steer clear of this booth like opposing magnets. Even though I’d been there for two days and had already rejected the offer from every salesperson there, I still walked down a different aisle to stay away from the uncomfortable presence they held.

So, are we treating our kids the same way?...I realized that’s what I was doing with my kids. All I ever did in their minds was ask them to clean up after themselves, ask them to eat their dinner (that they didn’t like because I snuck healthy things into it), ask them to go to sleep, NOW! In fact, it went beyond asking, and it was really just demanding. What was I giving them? Was I demanding that they obey because I wanted them to learn the lessons of life, or because I thought I was in charge and they should obey without question?

Yes, certainly there are times when we need to take charge because they don’t understand lasting consequences, but even in those times, I believe we can lead them to safety in love, not in tyrannical dominion.

I believe we can act in love by giving them time, giving them real loving attention, giving them part of your sillier side and have a little fun so they know that life isn’t all about taxes and death. If we do this, in love more consistently, I have been greatly amazed to see them respond back by respecting me more, listening better, and overall less fighting all around.

So, maybe you can make up your own song about boogers, read them a story that they choose, climb a tree with them, chase them and tickle them “just a little bit longer, pppplllleeeeease?” Give them what their soul desires from a loving and interested parent. Then when you tuck them in at night, and they hug you much too tight, you won’t mind if they hold on a little bit longer.

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