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Thoughts from the Lower 40: You Need Schoolin', Baby I Ain't Foolin'
In July 25 Issue
Russell County News
By Wade Daffron, Columnist

(Bonus points if you what song that line is from)

Someone pointed out to me recently that I have one son starting his senior year in high school...and another son starting Kindergarten.

Yeah, I had the same reaction.

(Oh, I also have two girls who aren't even close to school age yet.)

If you do the math, it's pretty much a "given" I'll have at least one child in school when they stuff me in a pine box.

And that's sad, because I was hoping to spend many years harassing and haranguing my children like I did my parents.

I sure can't see myself sitting in the bleachers at some sporting event cheering on my children.

They're more the type to be under the bleachers smoking cigarettes.

I'm kidding-they're good kids.

They're much better than me because they actually have friends, are smart, talented, socially active, and conduct themselves well in public.

Whenever it's time for a new school year to start, I always get a little nervous because I have to attend all those "open house" things.

I know there are people who think things like, "Does he just go to all of these as a hobby? Surely he doesn't have that many kids in school," or "Oh, look, that's nice, somebody's grandpa came to open house," or "Wasn't he here last year...and the year before that...and the year before that?"

When I was younger (a looooooooong time ago), there was only ONE Daffron (me) in the school system.

Now, there's going to be, like, well, a bunch of them.

They could almost have their own class, or their own yearbook.

I should count my blessings now, because in a few, short years, "Back to School" will be a financial nightmare.

At some point in the future, I will have to buy supplies, clothes, shoes, pens, pencils, etc. for my children (Hey, thats' s a soap opera, isn't it? Hmmm...are soap operas even on anymore?)

And since I'm still fairly new to whole concept of "girls," do they need different kinds of things for school?

I've always sent boys to school with things like a pack of gum, some duct tape, and a guitar pick. Because that's really all a fellow needs, right?

But I'm thinking girls will need things like, I dunno, what? Ribbon, lip gloss, frilly socks, stuff like that.

So far, my childrens' school years have gone smoothly.

The older boys have made good grades and have excelled in certain areas.

I do find it curious I've haven't been asked to help with homework much.

Oh wait, I think I know why that is...

I was looking at my college transcripts the other day and determined that I'm kinda...stupid

(Remember those "I'm With Stupid" t-shirts? I need a shirt that says, "I Am Stupid".)

I either graduated by accident, or they felt pity on me and let me slide by.

I seemed to do poorly in the subjects I really liked, yet made "A's" in classes like 400-level, Bi-Quantitative, Graduate-Level Nuclear Chemistry & Lab II.

Yes, I'm always proud when I see my kids' name on the "Honor Roll," and I think to myself, "They didn't' get that from me."

School was pretty rough on me.

Being a shy, backward, only child, I was overwhelmed by the experience.

I was perfectly content to sit in my bedroom all day, reading, listening to records, and staying up as late as I wanted listening to AM radio, and watching late-nite TV (anybody remember Tom Snyder?)

When I started school, I was suddenly surrounded by unfamiliar (and sometimes unfriendly) faces, given rules follow, and I could no longer do as I pleased.

In other words, I was in shock.

But thank the Good Lord for it.

School saved my life because it gave me a life.

I had to learn how to interact with other human beings, I had to learn for fend for myself (which sometimes included self-defense), I had to learn it wasn't all about "me"-it was about all of us.

To this day, I still think the most valuables lessons I learned at school were "social" ones.

If you can't communicate with people effectively, you're not going to get very far.

It is important and essential to communicate with your classmates, your teachers, administrators, everybody you come into contact with.

Because guess what?

When you leave the structured realm of school and enter "real life," you're own your own.

Your skills may be all you have to get you by.

Every once in a while, someone will ask me (of all people) for advice about school.

I can only speak from personal experience, but I can't imagine what life would be like without school, or some kind of formal education.

What if we only learned from oh, let's say, television?

Cool, so I can be like that coyote in the cartoons and fall off a cliff (numerous times) and live.

Or how about movies?

Having a problem? Simple-I can be a robot who turns into a vehicle.

How about if we only learn from books we read?

Awesome! We'll be baseball-playing vampires who never sleep.

What I'm trying to say is school is an "opportunity."

If you put a lot into it, you will certainly get a lot out of it.

So there you go, kiddos, it's not long till that first bell rings.

Keep those pencils (and minds) sharp.

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