Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to school...

School has begun....

Wow....The house is so --- quiet.

"I guess it's just you and me now for a while, right ol' dog?"

Mario, my ewok looking shi tzu, just stares back at me, looking clueless.  He's a great dog but I don't think he's all there....The wheel is turning but the hamster is dead.

(Case is point:  After laying down a new patio Mario freaked out and wouldn't go outside.  He was literally afraid to step onto the patio and I literally had to kick him (not hard...I'm not cruel) out of the house.  He scurried across the patio only slowing down when his paws touched grass.  He did his business and then came back only to stop at the edge of the patio.....Mario stared at me with that look that said, "Nay, I dare not set paw upon this foul, gray beast.".  I stood at the door not five feet away and kept encouraging him to come in.  The idiot shook and refuse to step any closer to the door. Disgusted, yet mildly amused,  I finally had Toby pick him up and carry him into the house.  It took a few days before the patio gained Mario's trust.)

"Yeah, never mind."

The house is also cleaner than it has been in a while.  I have to admit that over the summer I had fun just hanging out and doing a lot of horsing around with my minions, at the expense of the house.  Don't get me wrong, the laundry and the dishes were caught up and we were never short on food. But the house had this cluttered appearance that I just couldn't get rid of.  I would ride the kids constantly about picking up after themselves but it never seemed to help.  I will have to do a better job of combating this next summer.

The Freshman...

Anyway.....Toby is now a freshman this year.  Holy moly, where did the time go?  It didn't seem that long ago that I was taking him on his first fishing trip, his first baseball practice, his first football game.

A friend of mine once told me after the birth of my first child, "Enjoy every minute of it.....It goes by fast."

I simply had no idea how true that statement would turn out to be.  It seems as if my life has been put on fast forward.

Lately, I've been working with him on his place kicking.  We have a long way to go but, considering the only real knowledge of kicking field goals has come from a bunch of youtube videos, I'd say we are doing alright.  I will have to look for a camp to send him too after the season is over.

Regardless of how this turns out, I'm enjoying the time I get to spend with him.  I know that come next February, when he can start driving to school, and when he has expanded his social network, he will become a very busy young man and dad will have to find other ways to spend his time.  It's kind of sad, really.  But such is the way of life.

Perhaps I should take that time to ramp up my exercise.  Toby is beginning to catch, and it won't be long, before he passes me.  He's isn't near as strong as I am but he is starting to move a lot faster than he used to.  We worked on pass routes, where he looked really smooth.  Then he smiled, took the ball from me and said, "You're turn."

I hadn't run that way in ages.....and I felt like a busted up old jalopy, minus shocks, going twenty five mph down the highway on just three wheels. I was fairly certain that I was going to leave my knees on the field somewhere....or maybe a few vertebrae. I will have to add sprints to my jogging this fall.

But, I'm kind of veering off track here.  Back to school.

I went to a school meeting with Toby --- to pick up his iPad.  Now how freaking cool is that?  All his assignments, communication with this teachers, notifications of upcoming events, on one small iPad.  I sat in my chair in the auditorium insanely jealous that Toby gets a cool new toy for school.

Hell, when I went to school the eight inch floppy disk was still in existence.  I'm betting Toby doesn't even know what that is......Excuse me....I think my hip just went out.

I tried not to laugh when the presenter began the walkthrough to configure the iPad and I saw Toby just sitting there.  Minus a couple of passwords that he needed -- he had already set it up.  That's my boy.

Toby is just like Karla in that he always has a plan in mind; a set of goals that he is striving to reach.  Since the fifth grade he has talked about how he wants to be a nuclear engineer (inspired by his uncle) and he has worked hard at maintaining his grades.

He is driven....Just like his mother.

It's almost sickening to listen to a conversation between Karla and Toby as they discuss school, GPA, and scholarships.  Then the conversation morphs into his resume (yeah, already working on that), his checking and savings accounts, the power of compound interest, designing and adhering to a budget.

And the crazy thing is that they are both ENJOYING the conversation.  I don't even bother getting involved.

Whenever he is ready to talk about his new Nike's or the stereo system he is thinking about putting into his car I will be ready.

Toby is also looking forward to taking an industrial arts class (that's shop for you old salts like me).

Once again, due to the inspiration of his uncle, Toby is looking to get into welding, which I think is great because it gives him a blue collar skill to go along with his white collar aspirations.

Which leads me to wonder why some school have chosen to do away with shop.  I mean, isn't that kind of taking a kid's eggs and putting them all in one basket?

Let's face it, not every kid wants to go to college.  For every doctor and lawyer out there, you will need a plumber, welder, mechanic, etc. etc. etc........

Even if these kids don't end up using what they learned to earn a living, just knowing the basics of a skill may encourage them to go on and approach the world with a more do it yourself attitude; which can save them a lot of money in the long run.

For example, my brother Tim, who is a self taught mechanic, replaced a hub assembly on my car this week.  The garage I took it to wanted to charge me $345 dollars to replace it.  I bought the part for $92 and gave it to Tim who then swapped it out with the old part in less then forty five minutes. Tim's know how saved me $253 -- which I will take part of and hook him up with something nice.

Tim, "A simple thank you is all I need."

Bullshit...I owe you a solid....and I will gladly pay up.

The point is, this is the kind of knowledgable independence that the industrial arts can provide...a means to help oneself make life just a little less expensive. If I would have actually payed attention in shop instead of making throwing stars out of sheet metal and pulling all of the pins out of the fire extinguishers, I probably could have learned a skill that I would be applying today....But, I was just stupid like that.

I hope Toby's school never ditches their industrial arts program.

I'm sorry, what were you saying???

I also went to a meeting for Tera's grade school.  I have to admit that my motivation for going was the drawing for a new flat screen TV....(I, er, I mean, Tera didn't win....dammit)

But the meeting in her classroom served as a great reminder of how much of a space cadet I was in school.  As a student I wasn't bottom of the pile, but I wasn't anywhere close to the top either.

Tera's teacher hands me some paper work to fill out and begins to discuss her teaching style and a typical day in the class......At least that's what I think she was doing.

As soon as I got the paperwork I got so fixated on filling it out that the teacher became little more than background noise.

"Wuh, wah-wah, wuh, wah, wah, wwwaaaaahh.......

And therein laid my problem with school.....I was not what you would call a multi tasker.  Well, maybe I would have been if I didn't get so easily distracted.  I have a tendency to get so focused on one thing that everything around me just ceases to exist.

My other problem with school was that I just flat out could not focus, my attention span was so short.  I can't tell you how many times I had been busted in school for daydreaming.  I could be looking right at somebody and not hear a single word they say because I have other, far more important, matters rolling around inside my head.  Things like -- it's monster week on channel five.  As soon as the bell rings at three I'm going to have to run all the way home so I don't miss the beginning of the movie.  I hope it's the movie with Mecha Godzilla in it.  Or maybe Ghidorah...Yeah, that would be cool.   I wonder if there are any brownies left?  Tim better not have eaten them all, the little creep.



I look up from the paperwork that I had just finished and realized that everyone else in the room was going through an itinerary......the one sitting unopened next to me.....Shit.

How long was I out?  I look up at the clock...Wow. Really? I've been here THAT long?

It took me a while to finish the paperwork because I had to make sure that it was actually legible. Normally, my hand writing is nothing less than horrible.  It's bad enough that I will actually use a pencil over a pen because, for some reason, my hand writing goes from horrible to atrocious with the addition of ink.

Teacher: "So does anyone have any questions?"

Wow, I totally missed her entire speech........Some things never change.  At least there isn't a test this time.

When I was writing I did manage to catch the words "state assessment, snacks, and recess".  The rest?  Sorry, I'm afraid I can't help you.  I honestly tried to look up occasionally and at least appear to know what was going on.....I'm not convinced that it actually worked.....Oh well.

Here's hoping that both kids end up, academically, taking after their mother.