The Words of a Stupid Kid Come Back to Haunt This Father
In this edition of Trial & Error, a chance encounter uncovers a book with the hand-written words of this dad that leave me in the awkward situation of not being able to deny and lie my way out of a child's questions.
I can't imagine growing up in the digital age. All the embarrassing moments of my childhood are either on now-extinct Beta home video, or stuffed away in photo albums that never see the light of day. That's not the case for kids of the 21st century. I've been able to put distance between the actions of my youth and my existence now as a parent ... until now. When my older son, Tyler, started telling me about a yearbook of mine that he'd found I figured the worst that could happen is getting ribbed over my fashion choices or for what my wife describes as my "butt-cut" haircut. Ohhhhhhh, I was wrong.
It turns out it wasn't a yearbook at all. It was actually a Senior Memories book that was given to us during the final week of my senior year as a supplement to the yearbook. In this book you were asked to fill in a dozen or more pages with answers to questions about your favorite teacher, favorite memories, best friends, etc. I scored big on the question of my best friend. I listed my wife as my best friend, even though it would be another seven years before she finally relented and married me.
I also scored big on the question about my future plans. Asked where I'd be 10 years down the road, I answered that I'd "stay single as long as possible before marrying my best friend and raising two geniuses that will make me rich". I stayed single until I was 24, I married my best friend, but I'm still waiting for evidence as to the brilliance of my two boys. Swing and a miss on that one.
Where I get into trouble with this book is my honesty about some of my senior year shenanigans. We were on "block scheduling", which meant I only had four classes each day. Each class was 75 minutes long with an 85 minute lunch. The idea was to squeeze the classes into just half a year by holding classes twice as long. The way it actually worked out for me for the first half of the year was Science (teacher was a nut & the class was a joke), Newspaper (I was the editor), Sociology (more on that later) and English.
That was the tough part of my schedule. The second semester I had History with the football coach (I had a 124% in that class), Newspaper (still the editor), Yearbook (just more time to work on the paper) and the last class of the day was as an office aide. That span from Newspaper to Yearbook was nearly four hours. On the days between finalizing and publishing the newspaper I would have four hours to kill. It wasn't exactly stimulating my brain.
In this Senior Memories book I talk about skipping class. This wasn't all my fault. I was skipping class with the kids' mom, so she deserves a little of the blame. The problem started with our Sociology teacher. He was a great man who's no longer with us. He taught us everything the curriculum required and more. He also knew the group of misfits he was dealing with. Among those misfits were a few good apples that couldn't be left to spoil with the rest. After teaching for as long as these misfits would allow before losing focus (75 minutes is a long time for most kids) he'd turn a few of us loose to the library to "get caught up" on our studies. Sometimes that actually meant an early release for a trip to Del Rancho.
Things like a trip to Del Rancho for the world's best chicken fried steak sandwich and later writing those memories down just so you can fill up a stupid "memories" book is one thing. To have your 11-year-old son find that book and get the impression that skipping school is something that I'd tolerate is something completely different. How can I correct this? Without a mind-erasing device from Agent K in the MIB I'm completely screwed.
Let this be a lesson to you parents out there. Not a lesson about not writing down your memories in a stupid book, but a lesson about doing a better job of hiding that stupid memories book. Your kids will find it. Your words will come back to haunt you. It's also quite embarrassing to go back and see your own words thrown back in your face. I always thought I was the coolest kid in the room, but after reading some of what was written in that back I want to hop in a hot tub time machine, go back in time & kick my own a$$.