I have begun writing another book. This book connected to my first book, but from a different perspective. I have chosen to publish the first chapter, but I am not keeping it up for a long time. Just a tease I guess. Enjoy:
When I was in college I knew three things were true. I knew I was not going to get married. I knew I was not going to have a child. I knew I was not going to get a life insurance policy. In college I leaned a lot of things. Most of the things I learned were not in a course or from a professor; I learned from the experiences of college, from the life of college, from independence. Most of what I learned from college was not true, but what I learned from my college experience remains with me to this day. A few years after college, I fell in love; strike 1. My wife and I had a child; strike 2. My wife and I fell out of love, were divorced, the lawyers wanted to assure that the neither my ex-wife or myself would have plenty of money to raise our daughter in the event that one of us were to die before our daughter was done with college. So, we both have life insurance policies in the name of our daughter; strike 3.
I assure you while lying naked in the embrace of my love I agreed that three children sounded like a great plan and that my perspective of taking part in bringing in a new human into this world, no, scratch that 3 humans into the world had changed. I knew that the first of these three children was going to be a boy. The second child could be a girl if they wanted to be, but the “first will be a masculine child,” because I would teach him to be the protector of his younger siblings. Upon the first OBGYN appointment, we heard the heartbeat; no gender can be determined yet. The next OBGYN appointment the technician definitively said, “Well, it’s a girl.” I said nothing. The OGBYN doctor confirmed, “Congratulations, it’s a girl, everything looks great.” My wife looked to me, beaming with pride and gratitude; I returned a loving look and squeezed her hand, even though my plan was not working out.
What I have found to be helpful when I was in a state of stress or confusion is to go to the gym. At times something that is frustrating can be sweat out through extra weight, reps, or sets. Maybe running faster, going for a longer jog, or on a more difficult route. I spent additional time at the gym that day. My wife was great about understanding the importance of the gym to my sanity. My brain brought me through several different rabbit holes. To begin with I wanted to understand why I wanted a boy as a first child. As my chosen profession is a teacher, and I have great family genetics of fitness, I knew I was going to be able to work with him to be strong and a great brother who will look out for his siblings. Why do they need to be looked out for? If he has sisters, they will be demure and petite so having an authority of a big brother, which alone will be enough warning for other boys to not even bother holding interest in his sister(s). There in lies my concern, boys will be interested in my daughter. A solution to this problem, I thought, ‘maybe she will be ugly.’
It was a few days after my daughter was born that I finally got to the gym. There was no way I was going to get to the gym the day she was born, she didn’t come home with us until she was in her third day of life, she was tiny; her mother had complications due to some medication she was taking for her epilepsy. Two days after the three of us retuned home, I returned to the gym. The relief I gained from the gym was not through additional workouts. The gain was from a conversation I had with a gym buddy. He has two daughters. One was in college, the other was just finishing high school; both were differently gorgeous.
I said to him, “Well, I expect you have only about another 12 years until I go to jail.”
“Jail? Why are you planning to go to jail?”
I replied with the fact, “Well, my wife just had our daughter. I was hoping to have a son as our first child and when we found out that we were going to have girl first I considered that she might turn out ugly so that I wouldn’t have to beat up some boyfriend. I figure I’ll have another 12 years.”
He chuckled slightly, “You’re looking at it the wrong way. You should trust that you have taught your daughter right from wrong, trust that she will do the right thing, and that she will be able to handle herself.”
I considered his words. The new rabbit hole my mind burrowed brought me solace. As a teacher, I am aptly prepared to show her right from wrong. Having endured what I have experienced allows me to share empathy with her. I can encourage her to be strong of her constitution, her body, and her mind. It doesn’t matter if she is not a boy, she will be the greatest girl she can. I’m now excited to share everything of myself with my beautiful daughter.
So how do I get to where I am right now? Well let’s start with where I am right now. I am a middle-aged single father who is the parent to one lovely daughter and a rotating group of 100 or so kids. The 100 or so kids are my students. I make it very clear to any woman that I prospect to date that she will not be prioritized. It is only fair that she knows she will never be number one in my life. My daughter will always be number one followed by the other 100 or so kids that I am currently teaching. She comes after them; assuming that a past student is not in need of my support. These are the responsibilities of being a single dad and teacher. That is where I am. How did I get here?
While in college I realized that, reflecting upon my education to that point, my learning changed as I got older. For instance, in elementary school I rarely had homework I studied even less than that and for the most part received straight A’s. In middle school I began having homework, I did the work and I had to work for my grades, but not hard. In middle school I continued to earn straight A’s. In high school I was in the highest level classes that were available I had more homework, and I begin needing to study. I did not earn straight A’s. Freshman year, I worked, but not terribly hard, and did okay. Sophomore year I struggled a little, but still earned decent grades. By the time I was in my junior year I earned my first failing grade for a quarter of work. Ironically, it was the same subject that I have chosen to teach, English. I suppose that expresses a bit about me; I like and intrigued by a challenge. I worked through that poor semester, and passed with a C-, the lowest average I had earned for a year of work. By the time I moved onto college, I found that I needed to be more diligent about studying and study in different ways. I’m high school they never taught anything about how to study. Now I need to learn it on my own in order to do well in college. I graduated with a 3. something. Then, I needed to learn how to study for the teacher test following by learning how to teach my own class. I had to learn how to teach people how to learn, I certainly was not taught how to learn. Anyway, studying is important.
I learned to enjoy studying, to enjoy learning. In college I knew what the world was and how I fit into it. Naive, but enthusiastic, I was strong headed and held to what I knew was right. As with many people of college age, I was influenced by my surroundings. I was easily committed to something that made sense to me in the moment, and affected by pathos, my emotions. The more I learned the less I knew. Granted I cannot claim to have ever been bright enough to be a philosopher, Plato, Socrates, Einstein they were all much older than I am when they were recognized as brilliant. Maybe in a few more years I’ll meet their trail and be lauded for my brilliance, but I am not talking about the future, I was talking about the past. After all, I plan to keep learning so I’ll find out just how little I know soon.
When my roommate came back to our apartment from Christmas visit home on the East coast after winter break during my senior year in college he was talking crazy about having some epiphany. I had been a bit jealous about his family being rich, and the fact he didn’t have to work, not to mention he did little studying. I guess I was more jealous of him being able to not have to study and still getting great grades than his family having a lot of money; he didn’t flaunt it. He was a pretty cool guy. I felt more insecure, but never showed it.
So, he comes in after his trip and gives away most of his stuff. Now, him giving away most of his stuff means he still had more stuff than I did, but it was more than just his stuff. He began to be less wasteful, he started to do more reading, watch less TV, and partying less. I don’t want to suggest that he partied a lot, he didn’t, but now he stopped associating with his party animal friends. Even though he didn’t start working he did begin volunteering. Volunteering! My surroundings were screaming at me to pay attention and as I liked Joe I figured I would begin to listen a bit. Of the things I learned from Joe, there are just too many people on the Earth. Some of the things Joe reported to me had to do with there needing to be some sort of Darwin selection to help limit population. He even suggested there being some artificial selection beyond what Darwin observed, maybe I just don’t understand Darwin the way Joe might. Thankfully he only suggested this, I do not think he intended it seriously.
“Overpopulation is the planet’s biggest problem,” Joe reports, “Chinua Achebe say that Africa…”
Honestly, I stopped really paying attention, I was thinking of this really cute girl I had met the day before, Jewele.
I was out for a jog and she was shooting a basketball with some friends at a park I began to run past. There were 5 of them. I love basketball, and understand that 5 is not a good number for playground basketball. My addition would make 3-on-3. Her trim frame, light brunette ponytail, probably darker in the winter, and zesty personality as seen in her jump-shot follow through as her shot bricked off the left side of the backboard made me stop mid-stride; I nearly twisted my ankle as I changed the direction of my course.
Although she was only 5’2” she crashed into her friends, only one being a girl, elegantly wove between two guys and harnessed the rebound from the left-front of the rim. She immediately shot again. Her shot was smashed into the 3 foot chain-link fence, her friend menacing her with a Motumbo finger wag; I stopped. I was in love! “3-on-3?” I asked the guy who was getting the ball. He looked over his shoulder at his four friends, nodded his head as he turned back to me and smiled as he said, “Yeah, let’s do this.” Long story short, my team lost the first game, won two games, lost the fourth game, and we never played a fifth; it was getting buggy. I asked Jewele for her number, I’ll call her in a few days.
What I ended up gaining from Joe’s report at some point between being on Jewele’s team and calling her, I can help with overpopulation by not having kids. I did end up getting married and having a child. Jewele, kind of squashed that plan, but I officially have allowed her to be the only child