If pain builds character than I am eminently qualified to be just that…a character. I say that because I have sampled all types of pain from the migraine headache that drives you insane to the exquisite torture of having your heart ripped out and devoured before your eyes. You sit there reading this and ask, WTF does this have to do with private school and midnight snacks. You beg me to get to the point and as I always do, I answer the bell.
You see, my children are enrolled in private school and have been for years. And each year I find myself sitting up at night wondering why I insist on sticking my hand in the garbage disposal. Each year I wonder why I think that this year Lucy isn’t going to snatch the ball from me at the last moment. Is it ego? Is it male bravado? Is it one third hope, one third faith and two thirds stupidity. (Yes, I know that it doesn’t add up, read the stupidity part again.)
I share this with you for selfish purposes and not because I like self deprecation. I am not a stupid man. Ma and Pa Jack passed along an ample supply of intelligence and a solid dose of common sense. Not to mention an enormous amount of tenacity, perseverance and an ornery disposition. Yes, I am stubborn. So I write these things down to remind myself that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over again while expecting different results.
My children love their school and are receiving an outstanding education. I think that it is far superior to the one that they would receive in the local public school. I don’t trust or like that school which is why this public school graduate has been sending his children to private. But there is a significant cost tied to their education.Â There is a price that I am paying that extends beyond the simple finances. There is an albatross around my neck and a chain on my leg that we call tuition. Each year I lose my mind trying to figure out how to keep them there.
I am proud to say that they have been there for as long as they have. You can lose a lot of things in life but you can’t lose your education. We have given them a gift that is priceless and I am grateful for that. But the physical wear and tear of trying to keep them there has taken a toll. There are consequences and I am afraid that the chickens are coming home to roost.
Sometimes during these late night writing sessions (it is almost 1 AM) I think about my paternal grandfather. It is almost five years since he died and there is not a week that has gone by in which I haven’t thought about him. Grandpa never went to college. He was an avid reader who read constantly and was well informed about most things. But he was known in many ways more for his street smarts than book. I suppose that it is not entirely fair because it diminishes his intelligence and he wasn’t stupid.
One of the many things that I miss about him was his advice. In the interest of full disclosure he was among my biggest cheerleaders. I could do almost no wrong in his eyes. That doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t tell me if he thought I was being foolish and stupid. He just did a better job of couching the vinegar in his criticism than my father did. One of these days I have to consider whether I think that was beneficial or not.
Anyway, I have been thinking about grandpa quite a bit. I have a list of things that I wish that I could tell him about. He would be so pleased to see how well his great grandchildren are doing. Not to mention that grandpa was a fabulous story teller. He was a true artist who could keep your attention and interest without much effort. He was far more masterful at bobbing and weaving his way through the story than I am, but he was 55 years older than I am so maybe there is still hope for me.
I really should have shown him this blog. I really should have let him into this world because he would have loved it. And I would have too. I would have laughed with him at some of the stories here and smiled when I talked about the sleepovers at his place. He would have smiled when I talked about the midnight snack. Every time I slept over I would tell him that I wanted to meet him in the kitchen at midnight for a snack. He always said that he would and I always went to sleep expecting to wake up a few hours later for one.
So here I am, some 30 years or so later, sitting at my dining room table. The boy who asked his grandfather to join him for ice cream or cookies of whatever it was that kid wanted is grown up now. There is no sleeping bag waiting for my return now are my parents expected to be here in the morning to pick me up for my soccer/baseball game. Instead I am staring at spreadsheets and bank statements wondering if this is the year that we pull the children. Instead of dreaming of home runs I’ll be dreaming of a new home because I think that it is probably time to move.
I am still worried about striking out but this time the team I worry about letting down is far more important. But if I close my eyes I can see myself rounding third base and running for home. Grandpa is standing next to my dad screaming for me to run through the catcher and that is what I am going to do. It is a real memory. He was bigger than I was, but I was a 12 year-old boy who was supremely confident and had a head full of steam. I can’t tell you if the ball got there before I did but I know that I knocked it out of his hands and ended up safe at home.
The question is, can I do it again or will I get caught this time. Guess I won’t know until the play is over, but it is probably fair to say that I’ll add to the scars and battle wounds that I have already collected. Got to run now and prepare to add build some more character.