Marks on the Wall

“We can’t hold back the hands of time, its just something we got to do.”


Critters first day was Monday. The morning was….interesting. She was all excited until she realized her mother and I would not be staying with her the entire day. Then we piled in to the gym. Here too, a problem arose. Critter is much like me, in not enjoying being amongst crowds. So there she sat in the middle of the gym with her hands over her ears, and head burrowed to block the noise. So of course you can guess what happened when the the Principal fired up the PA system.

We had gotten up early. I made biscuits and a entire package of bacon on Sunday, and ziplock bagged the whole deal so that they could be microwaved throughout the week for her for breakfast. Eggs cook quick, aye?

The night before I had her help me make her lunch. A Ham and cheese sandwich (her favorite), a cheese stick, and bottle of juice. Plenty for one of her age.

When she woke up she was already ecstatic: Daddy was home. Its a beyond rare thing for me to be home when they wake up, so its a treat to her when it happens. By the same token it is a treat when mommy is home and she goes to bed.

So we sat on the couch while she ate. Me sucking down coffee. Her sucking down orange/pineapple juice and giggling and cuddling as little girls do.

Such moments make life worth living in my book.

Once we got to the school my outlook changed.

Maybe there is a secret leftist in me. Maybe its from reading to many protest authors in my youth. But I was struck by the idea of how we have created an estate of institutionalization via the education system. From age 5, we have set them up in to a pattern that will be repeated from the next 50 to 60 years of their natural life. She will go to school first, then she will pay the man. A remarkable system really dating back as far back as any of us can remember. A simplified method of indoctrination that takes place because we, their protectors, benefactors, and educators to this point, encourage them to go out the door in to a repeat pattern system we are trapped in ourselves. Get up. Work. Pay Taxes. Go to sleep. Wash. Rinse. Dry. Repeat. Eventually die. Until this day, my daughter, our children, experience the greatest amount of freedom, experienced life more freely, and had the fewest cares in the world that they will ever know. Its disheartening, depressing in many ways.

Am I going to start a protest, or make signs? No.

While I found it horridly depressing I realize that her education is necessary. Once I finished viewing the world in my rose colored glasses I acknowledged that. I can not be her educator. At best I can fill in the gaps in places they fail, and correct things I disagree with. Share my experiences, and my world as I saw it through my eyes, passed to her. It is for the best she does this.

As the classes filed out from the gym, she did not go with them. Woe be unto he who wears a bright orange Tennessee shirt in a gym. A word of warning: it is easier for your daughter to find you.

She saw me and made a tear bursting beeline for me at full speed.

I spoke to her softly as fathers do, rubbed her head while she got it calmed down. Kissed her cheek as I set her down in front of her classroom door.

Then did the hardest thing I think I have done in my life. It wasn’t Army combat training, or overseas. It wasn’t climbing cell towers or mounting a antennae 300 feet in the air in the rain.

I opened the door to her classroom, and led her through. Then I waved good bye as she raised her own hand and hung her head.

As the door swung closed I saw her raise her head and turn towards the class who was sitting in a circle starting to read, and I was proud as I watched her sit down, even with their eyes upon her, among them.

I want my girl to be a individual. Not be ashamed of being who she will be. The world did not come from a Xerox copier and I want her to express herself, be brave and proud.

She was certainly the latter that first day of school.


That afternoon we picked her up. We were torn between picking her up immediately after school, or letting her stay for the after school program we signed her up for. After gritting our teeth, as much as we wanted her back home, we figured it may be best to let her experience the day in its entirety.

More pattern based education? Certainly. Please do not send me down that road again, it leads somewhere I am not sure I wish to go.

When we arrived she sprang from her chair and gave me and the missus a monster hug.
She was sweaty, tired, but smiling. Unlike the child I had left several hours earlier.

We went home joyous, as she told us about her day, and her adventures.

I write these words, often, not because they are views of my own so much as views of the world I see. Throughout history modern man has found writings, cave drawings, marks on walls, and chips in stone. Should some ill ever befall me these words will be the only documentation, aside from my friends views, of whom I am for my children.

Someday, when the world is no longer young and neither am I, my daughter will read these words and see how I felt on this faithful day that she too may encounter in her travels. Words will be passed, but often we fail to say to those we love what we mean or want most. Something I have tried hard these last few years to correct.

There will come a day when my fingers and words fail me. The tremors will take away my music, my keyboard, my hands, those things that give me a soul. These words, these thoughts, these memories are my marks on the wall. Much as the crayon marks, and stickers she places on her bedroom wall, these bits and bytes of data are what I have to mark my own place in the world. I will never be a Grant, Homer, or Steinbeck.

But for two little girls I leave my writings, in hopes that when (or if! Should modern medicine make a breakthrough) that day comes they will read, learn and know.

We are just passing through. We all want to leave our mark on the wall to say, “I was here.”

My daughter began her mark Monday. I’m still dragging the chalk over mine.

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