I often share overly personal information about my family on Mostly Teachable, but neglect to share some of the honest to goodness details of my happy life here in the wilds of Southern Michigan. This year I plan to post my photo collection from each Week That Was. To kick off 2013, I thought I’d go back into my vault and share some of what turned out be a really nice 2012. Here are some of the pictures from the last 12 months:
The first paragraph of this bit of material has been sitting in the draft bin since 4/9/13. In response to a Cheri Lucas challenge at dailypost.wordpress.com, I decided to finish the thought and send this piece of lingering sarcasm on its way. Also, I finally get to admit my lifelong crush on Jane Goodall. No wonder this post has been in the bin so long.
This post is called is titled “Doing.” Now, if you’d rather, go ahead and think of it as doing! and crack yourself up by making that sound. Onomatopoeia in action. The great, arch-enemy in my life, the nameless nemesis of my existence, has always been things that do other things. Slippers are a good example of this. There isn’t any earthly need for slippers, but they serve a purpose beyond necessity. They are simple foot covering that keeps out the chill and allows dumbbells like me to maintain slightly dry feet while travelling to and from the mailbox. Tonight I saw an ad for children’s slippers that do things not called for by ordinary slippers. The new slippers talk, wink, flap, burp, sing lullabies. Sleep with them, cuddle them, light up the evil darkness with their delightful slippery-ness. What a pleasant idea! Do they function as slippers? It doesn’t matter, because the products are busy with so many other functions. Flap away, oh slippers of joy, because keeping out the cold is so old-fashioned and secondary on the hierarchy of footwear needs.
Chimpanzees have the worst of the lot as far as doing non-essential functions is concerned. The chimps lived their lives with chimp families and chimp jobs for eons, before the industrious upright dorks tried to mold their species into smaller upright dorks. Daddy would go out each day and work at the anthill. He’d collect tasty bugs on a stick. Good ‘Ol Jane Goodall taught us this, because she was content to live among the chimpanzees and remain observant. This of course is not so satisfying to the ever-industrious upright dorks. Our species, full of commercially opportune wisdom, thought chimps might look better with hats. Hence, a greeting card sub-industry all its own was born. Monkeys that do things, it seems, are far more interesting than wild, happy, ants-on-a-log gathering monkeys. I’m guilty of patronizing the dressed up chimpanzee culture. My avatar on numerous sites was a chimp seated at a typewriter. Never once did I consider that behind the chimp’s eyes was the spark of sentient feeling directing him in the primal desire to bring a stick full of ants home to the family. He doesn’t like wearing a tie any more than I do. Now that I think about it, I may drop off of the grid and leave upright dork culture behind. I can dig the idea of not doing anything but what natural instinct tells me. I may let my fur grow and eat Eskimo Pies. The ants are a little too much wild freedom for me.
The other night I attended a semi-mandatory outdoor meet and greet at my daughter’s elementary school. The trick is that in return for attending this event, each participant is given an ice cream bar and the chance to meet the child’s new teacher. These events are excruciating for me. While the ice cream social is always well executed and expertly put together, I find myself shuffling and stamping my feet. The kids in attendance have this kind of cool to them. They’ve met this year’s teacher, who is usually a rested looking woman full of the kind of energy that is reserved for amped up pageant contestants. The students themselves are a bit indifferent to the whole ordeal. They speak casually to each other, smile at their new teacher’s jokes and then inexplicably go and swing from tree branches. Within two weeks, they’ll be staring wistfully out the windows at those same branches and dreading the fact that they were yet again sucked in by the parade smiles of teaching professionals. During the social, though, the kids cling to a last bit of late summer casual and effortlessly mingle in a blase fashion while eating melted ice cream sandwiches in the schoolhouse courtyard.
As a parent, there is no cool, even from drippy Eskimo Pies. We have no casual attitude. Much of what we do is competitive parenting and semi-professional eye rolling. Mom’s and dad’s have a way of overdressing for these events. Yeah, I think the sequined halter tops and shirt/tie combos are neat, but unnecessary. I have no such desire to be a fancy dad. I can sort of manage to stand around and look like a schlub, before some ancient Miss America teacher slaps my wrist and tells me to stop picking my nose. We’ve spent every day since college looking out the door’s and windows of our workplaces wistfully for a tree to climb. Eventually, as often happens, my blissfully calm daughter will give me some ice cream, tell me to shut up and then smile beatifcally. Future teacher in the making, I suppose.