First Day of School

Most parents in the city are experiencing two warring emotions this week. Emotion one is straight up relief that our kids will now be annoying their teachers at school instead of each other at home.

Emotion two is one that I’m not really allowed to admit because I’m a man… I’m a bit worried for them on their first day.

School can be a harsh master because it’s full of, well, humans of the same age. Humans of a similar age have been desperately trying to differentiate themselves from one another with all sorts of odd rituals for eons. But sadly, we all sort of have the same number of arms and legs and eyes, so we have to depend on what we cover ourselves with to know which tribe is our tribe.

Back in my high school we had the skaters, the skids (sometimes also skaters), the impudent daters, the jocks, the preppies, the weird religious kids who weren’t allowed to watch movies (I’m a pastor and am allowed to say that), and the normal kids who were just trying to get by.

I was a normal kid (he says modestly), meaning I was garbage at skateboarding, thought doing drugs was stupid, didn’t want pointless dating relationships, was only somewhat decent at sports, hated shirts with buttons, and was allowed to watch movies.

All in all, I didn’t know who to dress like. I found out later it wasn’t all that important.

The other major differentiating factor is how we felt about ourselves and how we treated other people, which are often the same things.

If I could be railroaded for a moment I would suggest that using the excuse that you treat people poorly because you don’t feel good about yourself can be shortened to “I’m selfish”, and it will save your feelings from being hurt every time someone treats you like the child you’re acting like.

Haha. It’s funny because it’s true.

Last night I sat with my daughter who’s going into high school. I’m a bit worried, but I’m dad and not allowed to tell her that. One of my favourite lines in a movie (because I’m allowed to watch them) was when Liam Neeson responds to a friend who says he can’t hold it together much longer as an undercover Irish revolutionist in the British administration.

His character Michael Collins says “Neither can I Ned, but sure keep it a secret.”

Yeah, every dad feels like that most of the time.

Parenting girls, for men, is one of those weird games we aren’t equipped to win. Meaning… winning is not a defined anythingsometimes, you just have to show up every practice and keep trying and failing. One day we wake up and realize that all the practices WERE the game.

My daughter isn’t looking for answers. My wife isn’t either but I’m still running the same play because one day she’ll wake up and be like “Thank you so much for solving all my problems! You’re a great problem solver! You’re right! I didn’t just want emotional support! I didn’t just want you to listen to me talk! I’ve been so silly!”

Ahem. Pray for me maybe.

Hey, I might have no idea what’s going on in my marriage, but I still have to show up to my daughter’s practice. No. I GET to show up.

I get to help her get through this to the other side. It’s no use telling her I still haven’t figured out why some people are forty and still insecure and cruel like they were in high school. I do tell her she should never care what they think because that makes you like them.

I told her that all the kids voraciously dating aren’t just wasting time, their selling pieces of themselves they can’t get back. I told her their parents don’t stop it because they still feel guilty for doing the same thing because they didn’t know any better and everyone said it was “normal”.

I told her if any boy mistreats her I’ll come to the school and give him a good thrashing in front of his friends, as long as she visits me in jail.

I told her having a purpose greater than yourself in life might not be in fashion, because it rarely is, but it’s better to be wellthan be well thought of.

She’s got her older sister at school, her dad at home, and God everywhere. That doesn’t sound too bad, even if the first day is a bit weird.

Let the insecure people bounce around off each other, but they’re secretly looking for what she already has.


PS. I’d be a bit scared too, but sure keep it a secret…

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