Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mr. Chips Goes to Graduation.

As Published on 5/16/2012

Graduation.  A happy time.

The students:  Walk in quietly to the music playing.  Parade around in their good clothes.
See their parents and other family members in the audience. Cheering them on.
Faces beaming. They are so proud of themselves.

Parents:  We sit and watch as our child, along with many others is passing another milestone in their lives.
We wait with our cameras to catch them as they walk across and get their diploma.
His mother and I smile at each other as he sees us and waves.
He is happy to be leaving this school and shows it enthusiastically.

The music stops and the students sit down.
The school administrator asks nicely for everyone to hold applause until everyone is done.
The first group of students is called up.  Our son is among them.

Every hope of getting a picture is dashed as ten parents with cameras race to the front, blocking our view.
Parents are shouting as their child's name is called. Drowning out the next name spoken.
There are graduation balloons blocking views.  People standing in front of others.
Screaming and shouting.  Cheering and whistling.  Folks bumping around without even a "pardon me".

Oh, did I mention that this is a PRESCHOOL Graduation?

Yes, that's right.  They are graduating from preschool. Going into kindergarten.
What the hell.
This is supposed to be a nice moment in our child's lives that we can enjoy.
It's not happening that way.

Now this is a School District Preschool.  Mostly kids that need a little help to go on.
A few, like Monkey, who enjoy learning and happened to fill an opening in the class.
Yes, we are the minority in the preschool.  There is only about a 5% Caucasian attendance.
But that should not matter.

You sit, and politely clap for the students. Maybe a little louder for yours.
You don't leave as soon as your child's gotten his/her certificate.
That is just being rude to the other children.
Please sit where you are indicated to sit.
If you need to stand up to see your child cross the stage, fine.  But please sit back down.
You wear your nice clothes.  For most, it meant a nice shirt/blouse with slacks/skirt.
For others it meant tight pants and a leopard print bra that just couldn't do the job it was meant for.  How do I know this? Not because I wanted to, but because the white blouse she had chosen was stretched so thin, I could see through it.
Yes, size appropriate clothes are nice too.

I kept looking around at the parents and family that came to watch.
It was like driving by an accident.  You know you shouldn't stare, but morbid curiosity takes over.
The T.V. show that you flipped by and ended up watching 45 minutes of.
There were the streetwalkers scattered throughout the room.
The apparent meth-heads who were missing half their teeth.
The woman watching one child graduate while dragging three more younger ones behind her.

Every one of them trying to get their child's attention, or moving so they could film them.
And while doing so, blocking the view of other parents trying to watch their child.

I'm not saying that people meant to be rude.
Far from it.
I am saying, no asking everyone to please consider others in this time of celebration.
Please show your support for your child.  Let them know they are loved and appreciated.
But do not block others from enjoying this moment also.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tour of Duty

Originally Published September, 19th, 2012

My Tour of Duty is over.
I enlisted at the age of 28.
And there were a lot of struggles along the way.
Being woken up at odd hours of the day and night.  Not much sleep early on.
You take naps when you can.  Sneak in a few minutes here and there.
I learned to clear my mind and doze off quick, before I was called on again.

There were messes that needed to be cleaned.  I got used to a lot of unusual smells.
My clothes were always decorated with something new.
Mostly the shoulders.  But sometimes I got the full treatment.
Front, then back.
Top, then bottom.
I learned to do a lot of laundry.  Fold it neatly, then repeat.

After 3 months the bottles came out.  We were going through five or more a day.
It was really bothersome.  But after about nine months of hitting the bottles I was weaned off them.
But by that time, I had to watch out for projectiles and airborne attacks.
Always something to keep you on your toes.

I was on the floor a lot that first year.  Rolling balls.  Fighting off animals.
And using strange electronic devices that lit up and made noise.
This was at least a little time to rest.  But then I would be up on my feet going full tilt.
This was a repeating pattern.

As the next couple years progressed, I was given more difficult tasks and heavier responsibilities.
I was chasing things and barking orders.  Most of which were ignored.
I got that authoritative voice that those in command positions get.
That voice was ignored less.  But I found myself still repeating things.
I also found I could understand more.

 The third and fourth years came with some breaks.  But I had to do something to keep me sharp.
So I worked a more at the other job I had gotten after the first  year was over.
I tended bar at a local restaurant.  Met a lot of nice people and have been having fun ever since.

When my first Tour was almost over, my wife and I decided to enlist me again.
Realizing that this came with a partial demotion from my previous position.
But I still had reservist duties from the first tour.

I was again woken up at odd hours.  Getting through my day with less sleep.
Sneaking naps when I could.
Cleaning messes.  Some familiar, and some new.
And some had me wondering what went on when I wasn't there.
Even more laundry than before. Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Back down on the floor I went.  That's where the job had me.
Out come the balls, new animals, electronic devices, lights and noise.
I was familiar with it all, so I was more relaxed about it all.
Everything became a little easier to do.

Then the running around.  Chasing and being chased.
Having to find the things that went missing and  cleaning more messes than before.
I found my authoritative voice again and used as needed.

The reservist duties from my first tour took me to an educational establishment.
I got in touch with the faculty there and took an interest in what they were doing.
That got me invited back to help when needed.
Sometimes I wish I hadn't. Ha ha.

The third and fourth years of the second tour were only slightly different than the first tour.
I had a few more breaks, but my reservist duties took that time and used it.
I got more involved with the educational establishment and found things to do for them.
This I will continue for years to come.

But now, at 38, I am on full reservist duties.
Now this doesn't really mean that I am part-time by any means.
It just means that I have more time for an outside job.  Bring a little more money into the house.
And I will still be there in the afternoon and evenings.  Every weekend.  Every night.

I will watch my kids grow tall.
Go in and out of every stage of their lives.
Deal with heartache and triumph.
Expand their knowledge.
Then find what they want to do and leave the nest.

I can only hope that they also want to sign up for at least one Tour of Duty.
No matter what form it takes.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Healthy Eating

When is healthy eating too much?

It might be when you go for the whole thing instead of a single serving.