It’s Tuesday.  Why not write a blog post?  I haven’t in far too long.  This is because I have been lazy, and that is not bragging it is only saying that writing is something I have not been doing.

I have been busy, but not that busy.

What has been happening?  I am sure you are excited to find out.  My son has turned 2.  Yes, little Zachary is now a two-year old toddler who likes to jump and hug and cook.  Seriously – the kid loves to help in the kitchen.  Sam and I are trying to figure out little chores for him as his motor skills improve.  One job he has is to feed the cat.  This is really me feeding the cat, but I have him help.  I scoop the food, give him the scoop and he puts the kibble in the bowl.

The other day we made Christmas cookies and he was pretty good with the frosting.  He does like to lick it off the cookie, though, and refrost.  I would advise against eating cookies from our house for a while.

On January 3rd, I start student teaching.  I am doing this in Mr. Closz’s classroom at Shettler School, which is pretty neat.  My alma mater, Mr. Closz my own 4th grade teacher.  I find it fitting since it is the grade I recall enjoying the most throughout elementary school.  When you hit middle school, it changes up a bit so you find individual classes more fun than the overall grade – High School especially so.  But 4th grade was a good year, overall.

I was a crazy young man.  4th grade was hard on me.  I grew up at the youngest quite a bit smarter than my peers, which is not always a good thing.  My mother decided to keep me in the grade I was supposed to be in, which is a sound choice given that I was already one of the youngest in my class and skipping a grade would have made me younger still.  Given my predilicition for being bullied, I probably would not have ended up as well as I did.

Still.  If the school at the time had had enrichment classes, I think I would have been the better for it.  I spent a lot of time not working very hard because things were often very easy.  When things became a challenge, I was unused to it and slacked quite a bit.  This was the case from about 9th grade on through college.  It also didn’t help I was quite stubborn about the work I had to do.  If I didn’t immediately see the value in the work, I didn’t really want to do it.  My father gave me an anti-establishment streak which I still carry.  I’ve never been wholly comfortable in the leadership roles I’ve had throughout my life, often finding ways to still run against the grain when I can.

I like to be mischievous, what can I say?  I tend to channel this into creating surprises for other people – good surprises if I can.  It’s the difference between using your powers for good or evil.  Of course, my wife is intensely curious and a person who likes to make conversation with “what are you doing?” which can make this difficult.  But I’ve grown to embrace challenge far more than I did in my youth.

This laziness aside, I am very good at starting projects.  But I have a hard time finishing them.  This is what makes finishing school so exciting this time around.  Recall (if you happen to know) that I majored in English Writing the first time through school.  I did this because it was the easiest major I had tried.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I could have majored in any of the sciences or picked teaching the original time through.  But I was always concerned about losing my scholarship and didn’t know if I could continue school past the four year mark, so I felt pressured to finish in four years even if it meant I didn’t quite get the degree I needed.

When I started school – college – I was a film major.  This meant a lot of freshman programs weren’t viable for me as the art department had a specific track for me to follow.  I was a film major because I really enjoyed working in the media department in High School.  I was completely oblivious to the fact that what I actually was interested in was Broadcasting – but I didn’t quite understand the distinction.  (I can honestly not believe how naive I was post High School).  It wasn’t until my senior class that I took a Broadcasting class and enjoyed it so much that I thought about changing majors.  Again.  That would have meant a few more years of school, but I wasn’t really sure that was a good idea.

I planned, post college, to go into Housing and Residence Life, a plan that ultimately failed because I wasn’t really the right material for the job.  Maturity wise, I was not ready for that type of responsibility.  It was part of the reason I made my ill-fated trek to Alaska.

My adventurous spirit was a bit reason I went to NMU in the first place – that and the laptop I would get.  I had no idea what college was like when I left High School.  My parents tried to talk to me but I was very headstrong about what I thought I wanted.  No one in school really tried to convince me of the folly of my decisions.  I wish someone had had time to say “Matthew, if you are changing the career you are interested in every week, I don’t think the 4-year school is quite the right choice right now.”

So, there’s that.  Looking back, I realize the very best choice for me would have been to explore my options by doing all my Liberal Arts credits at the community college.  Failing that, a smaller school would have been a better choice as well – someplace with a very tight Freshmen entry program.

Which brings me back to fourth grade.  The lesson that I learned in fourth grade from Mr. Closz was this: Do your best work.  It took me a long time to really implement this into my life, but truly understanding that Quality trumps Quantity has been a lesson that has gotten me through to this point.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes, many of which had nothing to do with school, but I’ve worked through them all.  My best memories are those times where I’ve made the concentrated effort to produce a Quality product.

Another great bit of advice came from my media teacher, Mr. Schutter.  One of the best things he ever said to me was during a conversation about the many things I wanted to do.  It was phrased as a question:  Why don’t you?  This great advice, given my many a person who understands how life works, was asked of me that early.  And I didn’t really appreciate it until a few years ago.  Why don’t you do that?  What is stopping you?  How can you get rid of those excuses?

Finally, as I reach the end of my twenties.  Not that my life’s lessons are over.  Not by a long shot.  I can’t believe people consider forty to be middle age – I can’t imagine having life figured out by then.  But I feel a much more mature person and wiser person than I did at twenty.  Well, I actually feel a bit more humble and ready to learn than I did then.  Anyway.

My son is two.  And he’s a pretty good kid.

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