Current/Recent Reading List

21 April 2009

Clique-ity Clack

At this point, having once survived high school myself and now having survived high school again for almost seven years, teenage cliques rarely bother me anymore. Yes, they are irritating, but so are spring allergies, and both come and go soon enough. Besides, I guess we've all been in some kind of clique at some point.

What I've run upon at school #2, though (and have mentioned before), is an adult clique I pretty much can't abide. Unfortunately, it is made up mostly of English teachers, all of whom I'm on good terms with. But when they are gathered together, something I usually witness while warming my food at lunch, the sum of their parts as gathered in their conversation equals any or all of the following: smarmy, immature, asinine, sneering, juvenile, hateful, politically chauvinistic, (anti)religiously chauvinistic, snobby, puerile, self-consciously chic, hedonistic... well, you get the picture, and see why I tend to delicately extract myself from the lounge rather quickly after my food is warm. I also tend to not sit right next to them during faculty meetings so as to be out of site of the embarassing notes they pass, or blatant talking they do, while the principal is speaking.

So yesterday a couple of my yearbook kids were out asking for teacher volunteers who might help us staff a distribution party after school on the day the books come in. When the girls went in the lounge to ask the gathered Clique, they were apparently dismissed rather rudely and haughtily sent on their way after being told what an awful idea this was. In the meantime, at least 12 other teachers had already pledged to assist and said it was a good idea, or at least worth a try.

What chafes me is that any of these Clique members, if approached one-on-one, would have at least been courteous, even if they declined to help. What is it about the group setting (maybe I should say the group-think setting) that can turn people into such turds?

Adults. Sheesh.

15 April 2009

The Prospects of Being an Old Dad

To continue my musings on impending fatherhood, Act II, let me point out a few other items of preoccupation:

*One of the first things that occured to me after we confirmed the news was that I would be 58 when this child, God willing, graduated high school. 58! I realize that in today's world this does not connote full decrepitude, and in fact this might only qualify me for the Viagra target audience, and not necessarily the mortuary. But will I be able to legitimately throw a baseball then without the kid going easy on me? Or stay awake by 10 pm? Or be able to intimidate a boyfriend? Yikes.

Plus, though this has not universally been the case, I've known many instances of a child being born to older parents, never having a real connection with them because they are so out of it, and turning into a rebellious turd. Will this child grow up thinking his/her parents are hopelessly outdated and just too old to share much with?

* What if this child is a girl? Seriously. Longtime readers are aware of the many head-shaking, not-able-to-be-rationalized stories I have from dealing with teenage girls on a day to day basis as a teacher. I've griped and griped about those bizarre creatures, so naturally I'm betting on a girl this time around. I picture myself wincing through the various delicate issues I would have to deal with starting at around age 10 or so. I picture myself shuddering at the thought of some boy touching my daughter. I'm not amused.

I will say I love what one of my favorite former students told me about how her father dealt with her and her two sisters when they would fall into "adolescent girl mode". This jolly, round man, usually the loudest person at all the sporting events he was at, was a fun-loving, blue-collar Catholic country boy (of all things!). But when any drama started, the exchange would go roughly like this:

Dad: "Quit whining, suck it up, and grow some hair on your chest!"
7th Grade-ish Daughter: "Girls don't grow hair on their chests!"
Dad: "Well then, suck it up and grow some titties on your chest!"
7th Grade-ish Daughter: "I don't really have any of those yet either!"

Doubt I'll be trying that line of attack, but you never know.

*What about the age gap in children? This I have the least anxiety about - I've surreptitiously been taking notes on others who have children this far apart, or grew up in similar circumstances. The anecdotal evidence is that all has been well, including the free babysitting down the road. What we don't want is for the Boy to feel either left out, or too left in (as in feeling like a third equal in the caretaking). We want him involved as much as possible, but to still be able to be a kid. This will take some work, but a good balance should be possible.

*I could go on about finances, time, work, the inevitable decline of the America, the loss of all public morality, and other worries, but no point in that now. By the time I'm 58 I'm sure I will have addressed those here, and with the kid, on numerous occasions.

14 April 2009

Undeserved Joy

As I've previously mentioned, my schedule this year is tick-tight, and the blogging has suffered, so how about a little update. What's been going on in SchoolMasterP's world? Well...

Let's see... a fulfilling Lenten season and Easter Sunday have passed, we're trying to sell our house and buy a slightly bigger one, the spring semester is halfway through, the hateful yearbook is finished, I just started a new Teaching Company course on Martin Luther, yellow pine pollen has once again engulfed eastern NC... uh, and... oh yeah, there is this matter about a baby on the way.

If you also read my wife's blog, or are a friend on her hateful Facebook page, you know all about the blessed news. Let me fill in some other pieces of this story of unexpected and undeserved joy.

A couple of years after my son was born, we decided to try, in earnest, for child #2, but whereas the conception of #1 was virtually instantaneous, as these things go, we had no such fortune this time around. According to the doctors, nothing was physically wrong with us, but nonetheless my wife had what turned out to be a short, unhappy encounter with a fertility drug just to see if it would help. After about a year, we decided just to let be what will be, but in reality we were both mostly convinced that the fertile years had passed us by. And so, that is the place we've inhabited for five or six years now.

What were our feelings, and thoughts, about all this? I must first admit that there was part of me, five years ago, that was relieved not to have another baby to raise after just getting through the infant/early toddler years with the Boy. Perhaps we were just meant to have one, and besides, since we aren't wealthy, and there is so much in the world for us to do with this child that maybe it was just as well. Where would we find the time or energy when we were already so sapped? How would we pay for another round of daycare? Selfish thoughts, for sure; at times, shameful thoughts. But real.

These feelings were balanced, though, by the almost unbearable disappointment my wife was feeling. Rarely does my wife seem permanently wounded by something, but this was one sorrow that seemed never to be assuaged. For one, there was the grief any woman might feel at believing her childbearing days are over. Plus, being an only child, she knew the unique challenges that growing up without siblings can present (there are, of course, unique challenges in having siblings as well!). Finally, there is just the disappointment of a dream not playing out as you'd hoped, and having that (relatively) perfectly squared American family of four was her dream.

Over time, especially the last couple of years, I started to feel the pinch of this same sorrow. I remember when the Boy was born, I thanked God so much for the privilege of being a parent, of just having that opportunity, that shot at it. I was mindful, and still am, that many who would love to be parents don't get that shot, which should always be a reproach to the smugness that comes from feeling you're "in the club." But having one child seems to naturally beg for having more, if possible - this is simply the way of life, not a judgment. It wasn't, apparently, our fate, and so staring at 40, it seemed an era of other possibilities had just slipped by us.

Increasingly, when asked why we didn't have more children, I found myself regretting that we didn't start earlier in our marriage, and regretting my former thoughts of relief over not having two little mouths to feed at once. The motivations behind such feelings ranged from low to high, the most craven of which is the thought that those with more than one child have extra buffers against the risks of losing a child. Who is more to be pitied, the thinking goes, than someone who loses the only child they have been given?

But I've also been looking upon my son with pity at times, for he is not only an only child, but an only grandchild on both sides of his family, which is a rarity. Sooner or later, I thought, all our misfortunes, all our burdens, all our infirmities will fall on his shoulders alone. It is not that he isn't happy, or that he hasn't formed many good friendships already at his young age. But it will all fall on him.

And now, we have the shocking, exhilirating, and (I'll admit) slightly intimidating news of a child on the way, due in October, with everyone apparently healthy thus far. And... Oh, my God, are You serious!?!?

Sorry, that still bubbles up every now and then. Stay tuned, dear reader, for Part II of my musings on the unexpected event...