Mumbo Jumbo

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When I was in elementary school many, many years ago, there was a daily morning ritual. We’d stand up, put our hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegience. Then we’d bow our heads and recite The Lord’s Prayer.

Given that I was a “go along to get along” kid at the time, I did what every other kid in the class did. I recited these by rote, not really understanding or even caring about the meaning of the words I was reciting. It was just something we were required to do.

It didn’t take me too long to grasp the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, but I had a harder time with The Lord’s Prayer, especially once I started paying attention to the words.

My father’s name was Alan, not Art. So who was Art and why was he living in heaven? And why did they hollow out his name? And what will would he be doing until it was done?

What was so special about having bread every day? As far as trespassing, my mother had taught me to not go on the lawn of the crotchety old man who lived next door, but why would he be trespassing on our lawn?

One night at dinner I finally decided to ask my parents to explain The Lord’s Prayer to me. Ours was not a particularly religious family. My father never went to church and my mother went only sporadically. When I asked the question, my father said, “It’s just a bunch of religious mumbo jumbo.”

My mother explained that it’s a prayer to God, but she said that if I didn’t want to recite it every morning, I didn’t have to. I could just stand there, head bowed, and be silent. “Use that time to reflect,” she said.

The next morning, I was sent to the principal’s office after telling my teacher that I wasn’t going to recite religious mumbo jumbo anymore. I received a week of after school detention for that indiscretion.

Perhaps that incident contributed to my becoming an atheist.


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “recite.”

#SoCS — Pant-Pant-Blow

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The first time my wife got pregnant we were advised by her OB/GYN to enroll in a Lamaze class. These classes teach young couples how to prepare for childbirth and, more importantly, how to make it through labor and delivery.

One of the key learnings from the Lamaze class was how to breathe. Naturally, this lesson was intended for the soon-to-be mother to learn breathing techniques during labor. But the husband had a role as well. He was to be her coach, and as such, he, too, needed to learn the proper breathing techniques in order to help his wife manage the trauma of labor and delivery.

One such breathing technique is referred to as “pant-pant-blow.”

Our Lamaze instructor told my wife that as her contractions became more intense, she should exhale in a pant-pant-blow pattern. She needed to take a deep breath in through your nose when her contraction started and then exhale in two short pants followed by one longer blow. That breathing in and panting out should take about 10 seconds and should be repeated until the contraction stops.

Well, one night my wife’s water broke and we headed to the hospital. She got settled in her room in the maternity ward, where, in my role as her coach, I was by her side.

I was armed with a large cup of shaved ice in case her mouth got dry. I had a small, brown paper bag for her to breathe into should she start to hyperventilate or feel dizzy while doing the breathing exercises we’d learned.

Things were moving along, albeit slowly. She was only about five centimeters dilated after about six hours and her contractions to that point had been fairly mild. So her doctor decided to give her Pitocin to speed things up.

It worked. Within an hour her contractions started coming fast and furious and that’s when she really needed my help. I was there for her, holding her hand, mopping her brow, and pant-pant-blowing right along with her.

Between contractions, I was dropping pinches of shaved ice into her mouth like a mother bird feeding her chicks.

And then the wheels came off the bus. My poor wife was in the middle of an intense contraction and we were pant-pant-blowing together. The next thing I remember was waking up in the other bed in my wife’s hospital room. I had a major headache and a bandage on my forehead.

I must have been a little too exuberant in my pant-pant-blow technique. I somehow managed to black out and, on my way to the floor, I knocked my head on the metal railing of her hospital bed.

Fortunately I was revived just before they wheeled my wife to the delivery room. Still, I was mortified by my failure as her labor coach.

To this day, though, I tell my daughter, who was born that night, that being there for her birth really knocked me out!


Written for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt from Linda G. Hill. The challenge was to write a post around the word “pant,” just in case you couldn’t tell.