By The Numbers. . .

A Primer On (how not to hold) Tithing Settlement

Annually during the final weeks of the year, millions of church members throughout the world gather to visit with their Bishop (or Branch President) to hold what we call "Tithing Settlement." As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is a time for us to sit with the Bishop and review that a proper and accurate accounting of our donations was made. Once that is done it is an opportunity for us to declare to the Bishop that as members of the church we individually, and as a family, are full tithe payers.

Traditionally these meetings take place at church, but occasionally, when distance to the building is excessive, the Bishop may choose to have the members meet at his home. Since the members in our ward live ten miles from the building, but no further than two miles from the Bishop's house, we met there.

Being a Sunday, and the formal nature of the meeting, we were still dressed in our "Sunday Clothes" when we knocked on his door. Bishop Bentz answered the door and we were invited in. As Ethan and I stepped through the threshold, Ethan quickly noticed that the door to one of the kid's rooms was open. Bishop Bentz recognized the problem immediately and quickly grabbed at the door and closed it.

Too late, the damage was done. Like a kid in a candy store, Ethan was instantaneously wound up, and brimming to explosion. Whatever it was he saw in the room, or he imagined was available for him to touch in the room, had grabbed hold of him, and the internal OCD battle was on.

We took seats around the dining room table, and I sat Ethan in a corner where my strategically placed chair could corral him, IF necessary (I could see it coming!).

It was quickly apparent that this meeting needed to be fast. As the Bishop reviewed our donations with us, we each responded to their accuracy and their fullness. With each question, interruptions broke out from my end of the table, as Ethan would blurt out a request to play with toys, the family's bird, etc. Finally, he played his "Ace in the hole" card, and asked if he could say "hi" to Sister Bentz.

Sister Bentz poked her head in, and gave him a hearty wave, and smile. Ethan immediately interjected his need to give her a hug. Sister Bentz consented, and I got up and moved to the back of the room, placing myself between the group and the door to the bedroom. (Yeah, I could see it coming! You needn't be a rocket scientist to have figured out the scheme.)

Ethan, though he did desire to give Sister Bentz a hug, also knew that by so doing, he would be freed from his chair, and once on foot, could skillfully maneuver past everybody to the door, which so intently had been calling his name!

Like clockwork, the plan unfolded. Ethan finished his hug, and slipped, lick a greased pig, through the outstretched hands, past the group, and headed to the door.  He had not anticipated that I, like Bobby Fisher in a chess match, had anticipated the move and had positioned myself to block his advance. We locked hands. He pushed. He dodged. He pulled. I didn't budge!

Michael, sensing the battle was going to erupt to a fiery finish, reached in to help. He grabbed Ethan from behind, and tried to pull him into his body.

Ethan turned, kicked, and struck. Recognition of what took place occurred as quickly as Ethan announced, to the anticipated shock of all, "I just hit him in the ?&#!$ . . . I said ?&#!$ . . ." Yes, he had used the forbidden word; the word which strikes his mother with fear, for he says it only to get a reaction! And as if saying it once was not enough, he then must announce it clear loud terms that he had in fact used the forbidden word!

Michael, grabbed at him, and Ethan dropped to the ground flailing like a cat in a gunny sack! I reached for him, and he flailed more violently. The fight was now, officially, ON!

As Michael and I were able to take hold of Ethan and pick him up, the entire Bentz family and the rest of my family--if you're counting that makes eleven people--stood in the hallway between the dining room and the bedroom, with eyes wide, and mouths gaping open!

Michael picked Ethan up off the ground, and threw him over his shoulder. I grabbed at the front door, and motioned for Michael to move out quickly. As he stepped through the threshold, Ethan grabbed at the door jamb and brought Michael to a screeching halt! As I quickly freed his hands from off the threshold, I could sense the brimming lava of the other forbidden words making their way to the surface. We escaped the doorway, just as one of the Forbiddens slipped from his lips.

Once outside, Michael could no longer contain the Tasmanian Devil, and placed him back on the ground. I stepped in, and pulled Ethan into a big bear hug! Now that we had room to maneuver, it was time for DEEP PRESSURE therapy, which means lots and lots of hugs! I'm talking serious hugs.

I threw Michael the keys, and went to get Ethan in the car . . .

Ever try washing a Bobcat?

. . . we eventually made it into the car, and deep pressure therapy continued. With grimaces, closely resembling smiles (a more public version of "The Look") we thanked the Bishop for his time, apologized to the family for the disruption, and drove home for an intense therapy session . . .

By the way Ethan ALSO needed an extra hour of deep pressure hugs before he calmed down as well.

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