I don't usually post much in the way of family related items on the ol' blog. But there's a particular story about my dad I wanted to share that still has an impact on me to this day.
I was a dreadful kid. I was constantly getting into trouble, and there was more than one occasion when my parents had to come pick me up from the police. Despite the fact that I had very good grades in high school I was pretty regularly in detention also. My school operated on a demerit system, and due to a change in that system since I graduated it is unlikely my record for "most demerits" will be broken any time soon.
I gave my parents more headaches once I went to college. I dropped out twice, one time not even bothering to fill out the forms properly which resulted in incompletes in every one of my classes for that semester. This is one of those topics that is decidedly "off limits" at family gatherings, and it got to the point where my behavior was so questionable that I have heard I was actually used as a cautionary tale about what could happen to you if you didn't buckle down and study hard.
To this day I can't really explain why I acted the way I did. I mean, when I was a teenager I was pretty much angry all the time, but I can't imagine that is very different than most people when they're teenagers. As for college, I can say quite easily that some of those years were the most miserable of my entire life. I made a lot of great friends at college and I met my fiance there, but the actual process of going to class and dealing with the environment there made me physically ill. I can't imagine what it must be like to get depressed enough to actually commit suicide, but I'd be lying if I said the thought never crossed my mind during school.
Yeah I know, cry more emo kid.
Anyway, the point of this tale is that eventually I did get my act together and now I'm comfortable with my life and my situation. And I find myself thinking of one particular incident with my dad a lot and find that it still helps to this day.
When I had been in Boy Scouts for a few years, I started to get sick of it. I didn't like going to the meetings, sometimes the older kids were mean to me, and I was basically a whiny priss. I really just wanted to play video games all day. I had quit every other activity I ever participated in. Looking back I realize that I basically had a habit of quitting anything that was actually hard.
Boy Scouts was becoming one of those things, so I figured I'd quit that too.
My dad would have none of it.
I'm sure it was one of those breaking points for him. He had watched me quit soccer, baseball, basketball, and pretty much everything else growing up. Who the heck was this whiny wimp, and how did he come from his stock?
My dad told me in no uncertain terms that I would not be quitting Boy Scouts.
I remember arguing and throwing a fit. What could he do to stop me? I'd just sit outside at the meetings. He couldn't make me go. Etc etc.
That man gave me a look I'll never forget. It was a look that seemed to say, "If you quit this, any lingering shred of respect is gone."
I didn't quit. In fact, I made it all the way to Eagle Scout. And some of those memories in Boy Scouts after the argument are some of my favorites from growing up. I still smile when I think of the awards ceremony and my dad pinning his old Eagle badge to my uniform.
I learned something that day that took several years, I think, to sink in: nothing worth doing is easy. College is hard and you don't like it? So what. Man up and finish. Applying for jobs is hard? You don't have enough experience to get the job you want? Man up and take a crap job and get the experience. Life not going the way you want? That's your problem, pal.
It's very easy to blame everybody else. I did it for a long time, even after earning my dad's Eagle badge. But it won't do you a damn bit of good.
Some of us just aren't that bright, I guess, and we need to learn a thing two or three times before it sinks in.
So Happy Father's Day, dad. I think I may have finally gotten the message.