Here's a good question to ask yourself every day: Have I been worthy of No. 5 on the hit parade of God's Top Ten Commands?
If my kids never say words like "crap" or "Kardashian," then have I done a good enough job?
How far will you go to set a good example?
If the best time of your life was that YouTube video that went viral of you getting drunk and falling off the roof of a shed while riding a snowmobile, you might need to reassess how you will be remembered when your kids look back at this time.
It's the little things that matter, too. For instance, do your kids find you guilty of DWA, or Driving While Angry?
When they kids are 13 will you say they're 12 to get cheaper movie tickets? I'll admit, when our mini Cooper was two years old and 10 days old last year, we totally said he was still under two to save ten bucks at the Memphis Zoo.
Having just been rated "Very Superior" in talking by the University of Tennessee's C.A.N.D.L.E. study, Cooper's mouth will inevitably get my boy into trouble. I was always the one voice that the teacher could hear above 30 other yelling students in school, and that's a legacy my boy will have to bear.
Having grown up as an expert in sarcasm with a Ph.D. in Smart Aleckism it's not going to be easy to hold my tongue, but that is one of the consistent prayers for me and Darling Valerie.
Here are the top five exercises in setting a good example that we seek:
1. Pray as a family. We're working on Cooper at bedtime especially, but to be honest we're not consistent about praying all day, such as before meals.
2. Don't raise your voice in anger. Forceful, sure, but yelling not solved anything except for keeping someone from getting run over by a bus. This includes against your spouse. Not that we can't disagree in front of the kids. Good luck with that. Just be aware of curious little ones keeping track.
3. Be nice to others. The Golden Rule. It's Biblical, folks.
4. Stay active. We really enjoy going outside, not only because it makes the kids happy, but a little sunshine and breeze can refresh the whole day with some exercise.
5. Be careful with entertainment options. Don't listen to Megadeath. Don't watch the unrated DVD of "American Pie." And frankly, I mean that whether your kids are in the room or not. I even get weary of calling his Monster Jam monster trucks by their names, such as Screamin' Demon or Grave Digger.
Watching sitcoms won't necessarily reflect reality, either. Columnist Thomas Sowell points out, "How are children supposed to learn to act like adults, when so much of what they see on television portrays adults acting like children?"
If things aren't going well, don't fret. Our pastor recently patted the congregation on the back and told us, "You can't be perfect, so give yourself a break and you'll be a better parent."
In Titus 2:7-8, Big Ti says to "set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."
If no one has anything bad to say about you, you might be doing OK.
Before the season I offered a caveat that I didn't pay much attention to Spring Training, so my predictions would probably stink. Oh yes, they did. I didn't pay much attention to the season, either, once it became clear that the Red Sox were awful, and then we dropped ESPN from our cable package, so at least I didn't have to watch the Sox swoon.
AL EAST - Tampa Bay. Actual: Dang Yankees.
AL CENTRAL - Detroit. Actual: Detroit. Got one!
AL WEST - Texas. Actual: Oakland. Seriously? When did Moneyball come back?
AL WILD CARDS - L.A. and Yankees. Actual: Baltimore and Texas. The Orioles? What? Where? When? How?
NL EAST - Philadelphia. Actual: Washington. Yowzers. Didn't see the Phillies collapse coming.
NL CENTRAL - Milwaukee. Actual: Cincinnati. I don't like Reds manager Dusty Baker at all, so I try to pretend they're not any good every year.
NL WEST - Arizona. Actual: San Francisco. OK, so the Giants' pitching was good again.
NL WILD CARDS - Miami and San Francisco. Actual: Atlanta and St. Louis. The Cards always find a way. Miami was so bad that they fired Ozzie Guillen as manager after one year.
WORLD SERIES - Texas over Philadelphia. Actual: San Fran over Detroit. Wouldn't have gotten this in 100 predictions.