I wasn’t the most popular kid in school.
Hell, let’s be honest, I wasn’t popular at all. I was the target of bullies who were looking for someone to beat on. I was the subject of cruel pranks by popular girls who thought it would be great fun to convince me they “liked me” in that adolescent raging hormone sort of fashion, only to turn around and deride me in front of our peers, en masse, all for the purpose of a giggle at my embarrassment.
Of course, I sort of brought it on myself depending upon how you look at it. I’m not “pretty.” Just sort of average looking. However, when you take average – or even pretty – and hang a scientific calculator from its belt, then give it a pocket protector and a briefcase… Well, you’ve got “Revenge of the Nerds” happening right in front of you. Yeah… That was me. So, in effect, I painted a target on my forehead every single morning – usually around a big ol’ cyclops zit, but that’s just standard puberty for you.
So… Where am I going with this? Someplace different, actually…
You see, my daughter just started Middle School – what we used to call Junior High back about 1000 years ago. Of course, since she’s reaching that “age” there are more and more moments when my wife (E K) and I are persona non grata. Just the old ‘rents that have to be ignored, because we are so out of touch and never ever, ever were her age, so we just can’t understand. However, in between our annoying tendencies to do ‘rent stuff, such as reminding her to do her homework, withholding her allowance when she neglects her household chores, or even sternly explaining why it’s against our rules to leave a half-eaten cheese sandwich under the couch, we have our “moments.”
What I mean by that is we have a pretty great relationship with our kid, and there are those times when she actually converses with us on a one to one level, without disdain, eye-rolling, or “you-just-don’t-understand sighs” punctuating every sentence fragment.
And so, I had one of those moments just the other day. Our brilliant child (seriously – she’s in the gifted program, but I’ll refrain from bragging. For now…) Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah… Our brilliant child was babbling incessantly to me as we headed to the store. Having just started Middle School, everything is new and different. Fun and exciting. A brave new world, so to speak… She paused for a moment and then said, “What was your favorite part of school, Dad?”
Well, as I started out with this blog, you can probably tell that school was sort of a self-contained hell for me. However, like our daughter, it too had its moments. I really enjoyed learning new stuff. I still do. That’s part of the allure of school, even though academia, in and of itself, is not my thing. They didn’t have a Gifted program when I was “in the system.” The best they could do was try skipping me grades which was a social nightmare and was nixed by my parents. So, that led to me being an underachiever for part of my primary education. Fortunately, that only lasted a couple of years, because I discovered extracurricular activities that were actual learning venues tied into classes – The school radio station, the newspaper, the yearbook, the school literary magazine, and even Drama Club… All of these provided me with a creative outlet as well as an advanced learning opportunity. I loved all of them. They literally kept me from pissing away my High School years, even with all of the bullying. Of course, there are certain teachers who were directly responsible as well – I’ve mentioned them here before – Martha Ackmann, Martha Osthoff, Mary Martin, Edward Ross, and others…
It was also during this time that I began honing my sarcastic sense of humor, primarily as a defense mechanism against the bullies, some of whom were even members of the extracurricular clubs that were keeping me interested in school. I was bound and determined that these bullies would not take THOSE away from me too.
But, I need to avoid being maudlin here… That’s not really what this is about. It’s about my kid asking me what my favorite part of school was. It didn’t take much thought for me to answer. I proceeded to “wax poetical” for several minutes about how wonderful the Radio Station, Yearbook, Lit Mag, Newspaper, and Drama Club were. How I looked forward to them, and how they tied into classes, and how I still hold truly fond memories of them today.
After my verbose, detailed, and flowery soliloquy, I paused. Glancing over at the O-spring for a brief second, I asked, “So, what’s your favorite part?”
Without missing a beat, she replied, “I like the lockers.”
Sometimes it’s the simple things… And, I guess when you get right down to brass tacks, it’s all just a matter of perspective…
More to come…