Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19: My Daughter at Bible Camp, Feeling Unneeded, Classic Saint Marty, New Cartoon

Just got back from dropping off my 14-year-old daughter at Bible camp.  She will be there for a full week, slapping bugs, swimming, making friends, and, hopefully, learning a few things about God along the way.

She's been going to this camp for almost six years now.  It's always one of the highlights of the summer for her.  Yet, I always get a little melancholy when I drop her off.  I think it has something to do with letting go.  I'm not great at letting go of anything.  Books.  Shirts that haven't fit me for five years.  Past copies of Entertainment Weekly (I recently cleared out the magazine holder in the bathroom and found almost a year's worth of back issues).

I'm proud that my daughter is so independent.  She can make friends with anyone, and, when I pick her up next Saturday, I'm sure every person in the camp is going to be hugging her, entering her contact information in their phones, and taking selfies with her.  That's just the kind of kid she is.

However, driving home this afternoon, I started thinking about things I will never experience again, like picking out cute little dresses for her or braiding her hair after a bath or those hugs and kisses she used to give me so freely.  My daughter is officially a teenager.  No longer my little princess, wearing tiaras and letting me read her Charlotte's Web or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  My days of experiencing those little daughter things are gone.

Of course, my son in only six, so I have a lot of little boy things to look forward to.  In a couple of years, I'll be dropping him off at the same place for elementary Bible camp.  And I will probably have just as difficult a time letting go of him.  Pretty soon, he's going to be asking to borrow my car.

I'm feeling incredibly old and, in some ways, unneeded.  I have raised my daughter well, I think.  Given her everything she needs to succeed.  She knows that she is smart, kind, and important (yes, I stole that from The Help).  Now that she is spreading her wings, I want to tether her to the ground for a little while longer.  Being a parent is a strange occupation.  Just when you think you've figured out how to do the job well, you're out of a job.

Today's episode of Classic Saint Marty, from three years ago, focuses on another perennial parental concern:  summer vacation.

July 19, 2012:  Tremendous Family to Provide For, Tight Times, Cheapness

"You have never seen the like of me before!" exclaimed the Spirit.

"Never," Scrooge made answer to it.

"Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years?" pursued the Phantom.

"I don't think I have," said Scrooge.  "I am afraid I have not.  Have you had many brothers, Spirit?"

"More than eighteen hundred," said the Ghost.

"A tremendous family to provide for!" muttered Scrooge.

This little exchange between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present seems pretty trivial, an offhand joke to lighten up the proceedings.  After all, the previous stave had ended on a pretty serious note with Scrooge basically smothering the Ghost of Christmas Past.  The current Phantom is decidedly more jovial, resembling the Victorian version of Santa Claus.  Yet, this Ghost also touches upon one of the weightier themes of the novel:  the plight of the poor and working class.  Bob Cratchit has a tremendous family to provide for, and he does it on the measly salary Scrooge pays him.

In election years, I get a little annoyed with all the rhetoric that's thrown around.  For instance, this year, one of the hot button issues in the United States is unemployment.  The tactic that annoys me the most is blaming the unemployed for being unemployed.  For the most part, people who are unemployed aren't lazy freeloaders, looking to live off welfare and unemployment checks and federal assistance.  No, most unemployed people want to work to provide for their tremendous families (as Bob Cratchit does).

You may be wondering where I'm going with this discussion.  Times are pretty tight for my family right now.  I don't teach during the summer at the university, and I depend on a lot of overtime at my other job to make it through June, July, and August.  My wife isn't employed at the moment (not from lack of trying to find a job), so these twelve-hour work days are making me really cranky.

The hardest part, for me, about not having money is disappointing my wife and kids.  I have a vacation coming up the first week of August.  We're not going anywhere.  We're not doing anything.  My daughter thinks I'm cheap.  She doesn't get that it has nothing to do with cheapness and everything to do with her mother's unemployment checks running out.  And no checks coming from the university.  And the checks from my other job barely paying the summer bills.

I don't need a millionaire President of the United States telling me how he's going to make my life better.  I don't need millionaire senators and representatives telling me how they're going to provides jobs for everyone.  I don't need a millionaire governor telling me how he's going to control state labor unions.  I don't care about any of that shit.

Here's what I need:  a job, one job, that pays my bills.  That pays for my daughter's dance lessons.  That maybe buys me a good book every once in a while.  That allows me to spend time with my family--good, quality time.  That lets me write without feeling like I should be doing something else, something more productive.  That allows me to sleep in past 4 a.m. every once in a while.  That makes me feel good about myself.

That helps Saint Marty provide for his tremendous family.

Does anybody out in blog world really care?

Confessions of Saint Marty

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