Third grade. It took me a couple of years to adjust to the school setting. I did not attend kindergarten: I tested out of it, thank you very much. First and second grades were HUGE adjustment periods for me. I didn’t quite get the whole school thing. Why was I not allowed to watch TV all day and why was I required to sit in a chair all day and why did school seem like so much work?
Then, there were the other kids. How was I supposed to relate to them? How come they seem to be having so much fun together? Did they know each other before they got here?
The first two scenarios prompted me to ask myself, “What’s wrong with me? I am not good at sitting and paying attention and doing assigned work.” Then I had to talk and interact with people of the younger persuasion, who all seemed to know each other and have fun together. “How could I break into their inner circle and be liked? What would it take? What would I have to do?”
Everything changed in third grade. A new school opened and I was relocated. I was new like the other kids were new like the school was new. Starting from scratch. Somehow, I liked this concept. With a couple of years under my belt, I felt like an adventure and here it was.
I’m not going to bore you with the remaining 27 years of formal education—like 8th grade being the best 3 years of my life—but I’m also still trying to understand why I am the way I am and how can I use that to be a better Daddy.
The little buggers are now in the 3rd grade. Archibald (not his real name) has been progressing in his reading. I suppose that’s all we can ask for. Perhaps one of the biggest issues is what kind of effect is being diagnosed as learning disabled and given special classes et al doing to his psyche? How will he grow up and what will he remember?
Mortimer (not his real name) is reading above his grade level. However, what effect is Archie’s learning disability et al. having on his psyche? Will he remember that Archie got all the attention and he did not? Will he develop an inferiority complex, like me, and shut down emotionally?
I don’t know. Will they remember that mommy and daddy did everything they could to raise them, all the things mommy and daddy have given up to sacrifice for their well-being? Like the time I go to the store at midnight or 6 a.m. to get milk because I worked all day the day before? Or not having new shoes as mine were falling apart because the kids needed theirs first? Or taking them to the doctor or hospital or dentist by myself?
I don’t really want anything tangible in return. The biggest and best things they could do for me are: 1) take care of me when I get old and feeble, and 2) take care of their kids by giving them everything.
Of course, my biggest revenge will be when the boys have kids themselves. Let them experience their kids screaming when they get shots or not eating their dinner or, especially, NOT LISTENING TO THEM. The circle will be complete.
Just as the circle was complete with me having kids or my parents having kids or their parents or their parents or their parents.
As the New Year begins, I look over my life, inside and out, and determine what are my goals for both them and me. My major goal for them is to keep them alive. I want my revenge!
For me, I have work to do to improve myself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The biggest bang for my buck is my mental health. My inferiority complex is still around. I am continually amazed at my successes when I don’t feel very confident in myself. I have had feelings of depression in my life. They seem to come and go depending on what stage or state I’m in. I have resorted to self-diagnosis for the most part just because I don’t have the opportunity or resources to pursue a professional opinion. Could I be wrong or over analyzing? Of course.
Nevertheless, the more I self-examine, the better I feel and consequently, the better and more appropriate I behave for the little buggers. I think it was Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living. My goal is to be the best role model and caretaker for them. Let’s not forget to be the best partner I can for my SMM (Sergeant Major Mommy).
And so, I begin the New Year with a plethora of creative projects and exercise goals and spiritual books and good intentions. I am surviving. I don’t walk around with a frown on my face and I’m not catatonic frozen into a position. I am relatively normal, whatever that means. I’m #NotWeakJustHuman. And I still have to take the trash out, finish the laundry, feed the little buggers, go to work, love SMM, and feed and take care of me. Just another day is like my New Year. Or is it the other way around?
Watch Jeff Jackson’s short #NotWeakJustHuman Public Service video from The Good Men Project’s Men’s Mental Health Social Interest Group’s PSA project: