Monday, July 9, 2012

The Battle Against Entropy

I have to tell you that I had a more exciting summer in mind.  I did not expect to have two tween boys who just don't want to go anywhere, who just don't want to do anything, whose idea of excitement is a day in front of the TV.  Today, they reluctantly came outside and put their feet in a bucket of cold water.  How's that for exciting, huh? 

Okay, it had a restful quality to it, but really?  Are these the kinds of days these boys planned for themselves? 

In my mind, an eleven year old should be exploring with his friends on his bike, further and further to the edge and just beyond the limits that were set for them.  The neighborhood starts to feel a little small when you're eleven, but not too small.  In my mind, an eleven year old should be paving trails up the slopes or nailing boards to a tree to build his own tree house, the one that a dad may never get around to building.  At least the boards let a kid climb up the tree more easily to that place where a tree house might fit if anyone ever begins the job.  In my mind, an eleven year old might be chaffing against the lack of funds and offering to mow more lawns than the one he has to do every week for free. 

No, those are not the eleven year olds I see here.  I see one boy who was just given a brand new bike and doesn't want to get out on it.  That same boy says that drinking Tang is the same as drinking water.  I see another boy who seems to have the excuse of one ache or another, who just doesn't plan to move off the couch if he can help it.  I told that boy today, my boy Jack, that there are people who spent so much effort never getting off the couch that now they aren't able to get off the couch.  He had moaned and groaned when I made him lean over to get his own book. 

Yes, I made that boy read today too.  Look, when I was eleven, I might read for an hour or two at a time.  Reading was an escape from the hell I had to call my life.  I could go anywhere, do anything, at least in my mind.  I could go further in books than I was allowed to travel on my bike.  I figure that thirty minutes of reading, even side-by-side with me now and then, is the minimum for a boy who will slip further and further behind if he never reads another line.  I don't care what he reads as long as he reads.

To tell you the horrid truth, I made him believe that this was a choice he was making.  You know how people do that to you?  They debate you into a corner, discuss you into believing that you just made your own decision, when they had the reigns the whole time?  Yes, I managed to convince Jack that he needed to read, write, and do a little math every day, six days a week, at least while we aren't on vacation.  I'm not trying to be mean.  I just want him to be using that spaghetti that resides between his ears.  Yes, I talked about one future, the future of a man who has not read, the man who struggles to hold a minimum wage job, the man who fell too far behind to ever see college as an option.  I know that man.  Then, I talked about a bright future, the one in which a boy has given a decent effort and can manage the kind of life he chooses to live.  I know that man too.

Yes, I honestly believe that it's true, that readers are more successful.

So sue me.

Today, I was sad for these boys.  I'm sad for myself too and I nearly threw a rod after the TV had been on for three hours.  I'm getting to a point that I hate the noise of the TV, the way it drags my attention away from what I'm doing over and over until I can't get a coherent thought in. 

Okay, really, the boys were watching Tom and Jerry.  Not bad right?  I agree.  It isn't bad, especially the music.  But then there's one commercial after another.  Do they really need to listen to yet another commercial that's asking, 'Are you having more trouble getting to the bathroom?' in an attempt to sell them a scooter?  That was when the last of the oil drained out of my engine and I blew my head gasket.  The TV goes off.  Now.

But now that I think of it eight hours later, these two are having more trouble getting to the bathroom.  They don't feel they need to get off the couch and someday very soon, the fabric of that couch will begin to be embedded into the flesh of their butts and they won't even be able to use the little scooter they bought.  So maybe I should have left them there, simmering in their own flaccid skins, wishing they had left the scooter a little closer to the couch so that they too could get to the bathroom without so much effort. 

It's a battle, guys.  Every day you choose what kind of life you want to lead.  Every single fucking day.

Thank you for listening, jules

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