Family Time In Franklin: Flatulence, Fireworks, and Finances

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We sit in the mud… and reach for the stars.    – Ivan Turgenev

When a Big Steve and a Little Jan love each other very much, a Bigger Steve is brought into the world. I, Steven Kyle Johnson, 21, am that Bigger Steve. That’s right- this blog post was penned by the youngest member of the Johnson clan, and I can only hope that the title alliteration will keep you around long enough to hear me out as a guest writer.

I was able to spend 4 days with my RVing parents in Franklin, TN (outside of Nashville) this past weekend, and wanted to share with you three of the many memories we forged together during this brief visit.

Flatulence

Growing up in a household where Janet raised three male children (Steve, Jason, and myself), I am no rookie when it comes to flatulence. Passing gas was just as much a part of my childhood as boxing tournaments against Jason officiated by Steve when Jan was not home; as developing low self-confidence as a young, overweight soccer player referred to as “The Great Wall of Germany”; and as proclaiming “Heil Hitler!” mid-day in a German town square as my parents watched in horror. Every family member in every family holds his or her own unique flatulence role. In our family, Steve was the most consistent tooter, Jason was the most deadly tooter, Kyle was the most-expected-to-be-the-worst-but-in-reality-tooted-the-least tooter, and Jan was the tooter who would never own up to the fact that she too, as a human being, was indeed a tooter. Jan, after this weekend, will never be able to say the same.

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The Great Wall of Germany

Monday morning comes, and it’s time for a hike, which my parents have made their custom during this new stage of life. The trek across a grassy field and along a river in the forest quickly turned interesting, as the mud on the trail was so thick that at any given point we were at high risk of slipping in the muck, sliding down into the mighty river, and never again being able to taste of Uncle Vin’s exquisite cereal collection. After about 15 minutes of slowly maneuvering, almost slipping multiple times, and Jan asking if we could abandon this newfound mud crusade, the inevitable happened: The Janetor took a major tumble. I had a front row view of my dear mother losing her balance, yelping as only Jan can yelp, and slamming down her rear end right into the mud. If that was not already humorous enough (she was not injured, of course), one of my all-time favorite Janny Boo moments occurred– she starts ripping some powerful wind. I mean, some major air tulips were being planted right there in the mud. In ten years, Jan will completely deny flatulating and I will likely accuse her of ripping about 10 squeakers, but in reality it was a solid 3 or 4 ground rumblers released. It was beautiful- Dad and I laughed and cried for a solid minute, before we proceeded to actually help up Miss Toots-A-Lot.

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Some Gunk on the Trunk

Why, then, did I just write this long-winded (pun intended) story about my mother falling and tooting? 1) To prove I can also write verbose stories like Big Steve. 2) To enjoy the opportunity to write run-on sentences. 3) To show that it is memories like this one- unexpected, strange, even embarrassing memories- that you cherish forever. Reminisce on your favorite family moments, and recall if any one of them was planned in an agenda or was even supposed to happen. Plan for the future, plan an awesome vacation, plan a game night with the family- but don’t be surprised when the memories you value the most happen after a tumble on a muddy trail in Franklin, TN. Embrace, and celebrate, unexpected memories.

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4th of July–Downtown Franklin TN

Fireworks

When it pours down rain on July 4th, July 5th becomes a much more exciting day. In the Franklin neighborhood where we were staying, they were unable to shoot off their thousands of dollars of fireworks due to the weather. So on the 5th we sat outside in our chairs at 8:50pm and prepared for the 9:15pm show. But… 9:15 came, and there were no fireworks. We were growing tired of watching punk teenagers shoot baby fireworks at each other and at our dog, we were being bit by bugs (Jan would find a tick on her the next morning), and we were worried that they had already started and we were just not looking in the right spot. As patience was dwindling, and some of us were considering turning in, our poor attitudes were smacked in the face with the sweet sound of the legendary 2010 pop song, “Firework”. I glanced over at DJ Big Steve and the lit iPhone in his lap, and saw a sly smile growing on his face, as he slowly mouthed the words along with Katy Perry. Caught in a moment of growing tension and disappointment, Big Steve did what Big Steve has always done- something small to lighten the mood.

The decision to play this song might seem really insignificant to you, and even lame in comparison to Jan’s tooting story, but it represented something I have always valued in my dad and in all people who practice this principle: Make the best out of every situation. If you’re trying to watch fireworks on July 5th and it’s not working out, make a really lame DJ move that makes everyone smile. If tensions are running high at work, school, church, home, etc.- make a joke and make others, and yourself, laugh. e.e. Cummings once wrote, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” No matter how hard a day or week has been, I believe there is always something to take joy in and chuckle at. I believe God created us with a sense of humor to help us get through this tough life a little bit easier. Take yourself a little bit less seriously, and I think you’ll find you can take serious things a little bit easier. And oh, by the way, the Franklin fireworks show started by the end of the song, and it was well worth the wait.

Finances

I’ll make this last one quick- because this whole Johnson thing where I talk too much is catching up to my word count. Over the course of the weekend, I spent probably 4 hours talking to Stevie-Boy about finances, which at first sounds, well… awful. I will graduate from college in 10 months, and know very little about how to responsibly manage money, so I was asking a billion questions and he was patiently answering as many as he could. His wise approach was basically this: “Do what you want, but this worked for me so maybe do this, and that didn’t work for me so maybe don’t do that.” It struck me how similar an approach we all have to take when sharing wisdom or sharing our own personal stories. None of us are perfectly wise…Big Steve doesn’t know everything about money, Lil Jan doesn’t know everything about marriage or hiking in mud, I know very little about everything, and you are not omniscient, either. But God works through our lives and graces us with a fair understanding of certain things, and ultimately God co-authors the story each of us is writing. I think one of the best things we can do is to share wisdom with a child, friend, stranger, or whoever based on the story God has written for each of us. My favorite author Donald Miller wrote the following: “I asked God to help me understand the story of the forest and what it means to be a tree in that story.” I hope and pray you find your role as a tree in God’s forest. And when you do, I hope you will tell other trees about your experiences. As for me, this weekend I was grateful to God for being the son of two tree bloggers who live in an RV down by the river.

– Kyle Johnson

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5 thoughts on “Family Time In Franklin: Flatulence, Fireworks, and Finances”

  1. Kyle,

    You may not know much about finance but you are already an accomplished writer.

    Great work!

    God bless your continuing adventure, Steve and Jan.

    1. Thanks, Bob! Kyle is in Honduras this week on a mission trip with his church. I’m looking forward to hearing about Jaye’s European vacation with her friends.

  2. Read your funny stories trying to figure out how I know you. Don’t guess I do, but I still very much enjoyed your writing skills/storytelling ability. I am the 8th grade English teacher at Lipscomb, and my brother Tom Buterbaugh is the art director (puts out the magazine) at Harding. If you have never met him, please go do that– and then tell him two things: 1. His older and wiser sister says, “Hope you are having a wonderful day!” 2. She also says he should brainstorm with you immediately about a story you could write for the magazine. You have real talent that should be shared before you leave HU! Blessings, bp

    1. Hey Betsy, I appreciate your feedback on my son Kyle’s story. He’s currently in Honduras on a mission trip, but I’ll relay your message to him so that he can relay the message to your brother. (I also have two older, wiser, sisters so I know how he feels!) Perhaps Kyle and Tom can brainstorm a magazine article. Thanks again for your note.

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