A few observations relating to my son’s completion of kindergarten

shutterstock_103426844(That’s not a picture of my kid.)

My son’s last day of school was today, or at least his last couple of hours of school were today, and I’ve entered that liminal couple of months where I’m no longer the parent of a kindergartner but not quite the parent of a first grader yet.  They had a little program to mark the end of the year; it started at 8:30, each class sang a song or two, and they were done by probably 9:15, at which point everyone was dismissed to go home.  My kid’s school, thankfully, does not put up with any sort of “graduation” nonsense for kindergarten children.  No one’s names were called, no certificates were handed out, and there was no walking across stages.  No caps and gowns, either.  Classes come up, classes sing songs, classes go away, and I continue to be amazed at the outstanding lack of classroom presence possessed by the music director, who “runs” each of those things and who cannot quiet down a room of humans to save her bloody life.

I still don’t feel like I fit in at this place.  Granted, today is my day off and most of the folks there probably went to work after the presentation, but I was literally the only parent in the room in a t-shirt and jeans.  And large groups of white people tend to make me nervous, especially large groups of white people who visibly make more money than me.  I spent half the concert on edge, waiting for someone to insist on speaking to my manager.  That type of crowd.

One definite plus: as a first grader, my son moves to a different division of the school next year.  This means that today was probably the last time I have to listen to three- and four-year-olds trying to sing and play instruments and try to keep a straight face.  I mean, I guess in theory I might live long enough to have grandchildren?  But he’s six, so… the last time for at least a couple of decades, I hope?  Sure.

I caught myself musing about escape routes as the program dragged on, and realized with a jolt that I was genuinely sitting there and thinking about what the best thing to do would be if someone with a gun came in– if it’s from that door, I grab the boy and try to get out of this door, but if it’s from this door, the one next to me, I’m probably fucked and the best thing is probably to do my best impression of a guided missile and see just how hard my 300-pound ass can hit someone with a running start from a chair fifteen feet away.  I was probably thirty seconds into it before I realized what I was doing, and then my head was fucked up for the rest of the morning.  This is a wealthy, mostly white school, see; it’s those schools that tend to produce the school shooters.  Not once while I was working in urban public schools did I ever catch myself doing this sort of calculus.

One of the more recent school shootings caught me where I live.  The Noblesville shooting didn’t raise a ton of press outside of Indiana because no one was killed, but I know kids who go to that school.  I spent a weekend at the booth next to them at Starbase Indy a couple of years ago, and their mom and I are still connected on Instagram and Facebook.  Mom posted yesterday that her youngest had only just then decided she felt safe to go back to school.

I shouldn’t have to think about this shit.  But Americans have to have their fucking toys, don’t they?  Because freedom, or something.

Bah.  I’m taking the boy to Dairy Queen and trying to get out of this fucking mood.

Well, so much for that, I guess.

la-et-jc-teacher-was-not-placed-on-leave-over--001You may have heard a story that broke nationwide over the weekend about Patrick McLaw, a middle school teacher in Maryland who was supposedly basically disappeared by the authorities for writing a pair of novels under a pen name that involved a school shooting.  A school shooting in the 2900s.  Nine hundred years into the future.

Maybe you’ve noticed:  I’m a middle school teacher who writes novels under a pen name.  Now, granted, none of my books have ever involved a school shooting, but… yeah, this kinda hit close to home, and early mental drafts of this post involved some reflection on the Columbine shooting; as someone who spent large chunks of high school and college in a black trench coat, I could identify with those kids too.

Long story short: I could write the hell out of a school shooting story if I wanted to, guys.  For any number of reasons.  I get alienation.  I get violent thoughts.  And while I was never close to a Klebold/Harris type kid in high school, a big part of the horror of the Columbine massacre, to me, was the “there but for the grace of God go I” aspect of the whole thing.

But anyway.  I didn’t get the post written yesterday because the story was too insane.  I couldn’t find any information that was useful beyond the horrifyingly badly-written and borderline libelous local news article about it, and that article was clearly written by a fearmongering moron.   There had to be more to the story.

Well… yep.  I’d seen a single comment on one article alluding to some sort of letter he’d sent to school authorities that had attracted their notice, but it hadn’t been picked up or followed up on anywhere else.  My wife pointed out that, at 23, he was at exactly the age where (and it should be made perfectly clear that this is pure speculation) issues with schizophrenia tend to manifest themselves.  And while the article doesn’t use that word, that’s certainly what it feels like.

It is decidedly odd to be relieved that someone has turned out to be schizophrenic, but… fuck, I’m not prepared to deal with a world where your boss can get you locked up for having written a book, three years ago, where you describe a fictional bad thing happening nine hundred years in the future.  I was begging for there to be more to this story and for it just to be insanely shitty journalism.  I’m not glad I’m right, but I’m glad I’m right, if you know what I mean.


The lack of genuine government insanity also makes it a bit easier to say this: I didn’t buy his books, because $14.95 for an ebook is more than I’m willing to spend, but I did download a sample chapter.  And I’ll be honest even though it makes me an asshole: I said right away that I thought the dude wrote like someone with mental issues.  Here’s the first few paragraphs, from the Amazon viewer:

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This transcends bad writing, guys.  Also, the book is supposedly set in the 2900s but the kids are described as watching televisions a few pages later.  Is it okay that I don’t want someone this bad at writing to be a poster child for free speech?