Monday, November 23, 2009

My "wow" moment as a parent, from a Reddit comment?

When I was in the seventh grade, I had an awesome English teacher.

He was an obsessive eccentric who made the class a giant party every day. If our school had been in a ghetto, some washed up actor would totally be able to save his career by playing Mr. Springer in a movie about inspiring underprivileged kids.

Because he was such an amazing teacher, the school brought in new teachers to train under him. The way it worked in the district was, the new teacher would have total control of the class. The old teacher would only be there to answer the newbie's questions and offer moral support.

Mr. Springer made no secret of his absolute disdain for this system and for this underling in particular.

She was a "rules are rules" disciplinarian. He randomly handed out ten dollar bills in pink plastic eggs to anyone who could pass a spelling test.

Personally, as much fun as everyone was having, I really wasn't his biggest fan. I mean I liked him and I thought what he was doing was cool but I always felt guilty taking up a spot in his class because frankly I would have done well anywhere. I didn't need a giant dancing science fiction parade every morning to enlighten me to the power of story-telling.

Anyway, one day I finished my work and was writing a note to a friend. I first wrote up a draft, highlighting some of the thing I wanted to say. In the draft, I circled misspelled words and drew little arrows showing where I would move lines around for clarity.

I considered note passing to be a modern form of letter writing. I knew that my friends would keep these notes for years and reread them as adults. I kept that in mind as I wrote. Did I mention that my class work was done and that I had the highest grade in the the class, something like 800 points over the points possible and that the class had been taken over by a tyrant with total control over the class? (See a bit of grudge holding here?)

Well, she spotted my note writing and FREAKED. "How dare you take up my class time with THIS! "

She had serious demon eyes and literally had veins popping out when she yanked the notes off my desk.

This was the first time Underling had dealt with this type of felonious assault on her class time so she had to go to the big guy at the desk for guidance. Guidance from the guy who did nothing but glare evilly at her all class and no doubt wrote and rewrote Poe like scenarios against her in his mind while he watched her botch his class day in and day out .

She slapped the notes against his desks and called me up. He sat back and read the note, then picked up the draft. "What's this?"

"My first draft."

He leaned back in his chair and reread the draft. He immediately recognized some techniques he had taught. "You wrote a draft to a note?"

A huge smile crept across his face.

"This is what I taught you guys to do. And here you are using what I taught-all on your own. I am amazed. "

He leaned back again. And sighed a deep sigh.

"I'm so happy right now, I don't know what to say."

He took both notes and shook his finger in Underling' s face. "You are not going to the Principle with this. I am keeping these notes. This type of thing is why we are all here. She used what I taught her all on her own."

Really even better than a "wow" moment, it was a wow/revenge moment. And I got to be a part of it.

My wow moment as a parent came while I was snooping a bit.

I was looking through Reddit when I realized the page was still signed in to my 12 year old son's account. Knowing I had access to a 12 1/2 year old boy's musings on the the internet was a bit stressful, I wasn't sure what I would run into.

A common theme in our house is the discussion of the idea that every small thing you do in life affects a great many different people and events. We often find that some of the most earth shattering, crazy events in our lives can be traced to some small event that meant almost nothing at the time. I talk to the kids about how different I feel ( sometimes for hours) after someone lets me in in traffic as opposed to when someone doesn't say thanks when I let them in. We talk about all the different things I might do throughout the day based on the traffic exchange that occurred and how that effects others and so on .

Anyway, below is a response to a post on the social news site I can can see we need to work on sentence structure but I think we are all guilty of run-ons when posting an emotional diatribe.

Below my kid's comment are the responses it generated -wow again. ( and ya- he did write this himself. He does talk like this all the time.)

Every time we go out and about at least three people ask what his IQ is.

Answer: really fucking high

My kid's post;

These people are pathetic. If you move to a rain-forest in Brazil, your still in the middle of the Fucking rain-forest, recession or not.

If you go to veterinary school you will walk away with the ability to medically care for animals, that is knowledge that means something, knowledge that will always be useful and has been useful since man domesticated wild animals.

if you learn carpentry then you can build a house, if you make a movie then it's always there, ready to make you laugh or smile or cry, if you join a conservation program then your actions may save a species.

they may tell you that one man cannot change anything, that everything you do will have no affect on anyone else.That is a blatant lie.

Everything you ever do, from smiling at someone you don't know to throwing your brother a surprise party, everything you do every single day of your life impacts the lives of those around you and vice versa, with their destinies slightly shifted by your actions, they go on to effect the actions of others, years after you've done something the direct consequences are playing out on the other side of the world. everyone is the Center of a gigantic ripple in the the pond we call Earth, each center being constantly affected by the Billions of other ripples being given off each day by Billions of people. Causing the ripples you create to be fundamentally different and have different affects on the other Centers, and on and on. A gigantic ever-shifting Monument to the mastery of the human race over it's own cosmic destiny.

Welcome to the Universe.

There is no human on this Earth that does not posses the power to change his or her own destiny, even in the the smallest of ways, they throw excuses in their own paths, they say that hey have no choice but to live the rut of routine that they created for themselves and exist in by their own choice, that the invisible "System" they claim holds sway over their lives does not allow them to be themselves, only glassy-eyed automation's screaming for release. but in truth all that holds them back is themselves, there is no physical barrier preventing you from telling your boss to suck it, no looming guard forcing you to use your overpriced credit cards, no walls to keep you from moving away from your shitty housing development and your obnoxious neighbors, there is nothing but your own delusions.

You remain in your grudging life of your own accord, not knowing that you've had Ayn Rand turning in her grave at MACH 2 for years.

What will you do? will you ignore my words and continue to wallow in self pity? Or will you acknowledge your existence as an utter individual, that one thing that can move the world through will alone, as you have been able to from birth. Just like the entire human race.

What will you do? The choice is yours and yours alone.

Offensive_Brute 0 points1 point 8 days ago[-]

its important tp properly measure the dragon force with which one upvotes.

deadilyduplicate [S] -1 points0 points 9 days ago* [-]

I think the point that the writer was trying to make in what I submitted was not that our actions lack meaning but rather our thoughts do. Sure when we get out and do something we produce effects which may be good or may be bad. But when we reflect on those actions and think about our lives we find nothing.

You rant is superficial in this respect. It reaffirms our existence by relying on things which we don't question. The point of the quote I submitted was that our lives lack the distractions of previous generations and for those who spend to much time in their heads, life is ultimately revealed to be meaningless.

At least that is how I read it. I liked that line because it felt critical on what I just mentioned. Not really sure why that is pathetic. Although what you said, apart from misreading the submission, is still very much correct and thus gets an upvote from me.

Offensive_Brute 0 points1 point 8 days ago[-]

perhaps the authors thoughts are meaningless. My thoughts are my most prized possessions. My mental scrapbook, my thoughts and memories, are not valueless, they are priceless.

The author sounds like he needs to do some gardening.

ysalex 0 points1 point 9 days ago[-]


First, I suspect you wrote the submitted post. That aside, what you just said makes no sense.

We think the way we do to force external action to happen. Without internal pressure there is no external force. Actions would only be meaningless if we could not observe them or if they had no effect. But our actions are both effectual and observable, and thus they are meaningful, as the thread OP pointed out (and you agreed with).

But external actions are indicative of internal pressure. Therefore the internal pressure (our thoughts, feeling and emotions), have meaning. The biggest of meanings, actually. They are the driving force behind humanity. The are what makes us explore and excites us to discover. They incite love, hate, anger and fear. They push us to help or hurt one another and, most importantly, they give us reason to exist and survive. Without our thoughts there would be no 'survival of the fittest'.

Saying that thoughts mean nothing is like saying that the only thing that matters in a collision is the collision itself. But before the collision there were forces pushing the objects together, maybe even guiding them together. These guiding, pushing forces are our thoughts and perceptions. Reality is what you perceive.

deadilyduplicate [S] 0 points1 point 9 days ago[-]

But external actions are indicative of internal pressure. Therefore the internal pressure (our thoughts, feeling and emotions), have meaning. The biggest of meanings, actually. They are the driving force behind humanity. The are what makes us explore and excites us to discover. They incite love, hate, anger and fear.

Ok but actions only have meaning in a very superficial context. Once you remove yourself from that context you see them as pointless deterministic chains which have no real significance. I don't believe this to be a contentious claim. Countless writers have realized this. Tons of people suspect that once you probe to far into your reflections on life you realize that life is meaningless or it does not hold up to pure, unbiased reflection.

for example, you say that thoughts motivate us to explore, discover, etc but you do not provide reasons for why exploring and discovering are at all significant. Are we just supposed to accept that they are? well yes in fact. That is the whole point.

And I did not write the original submission, but that really does not matter since, at this point, I have certainly read far more into it then was intended.

ysalex 0 points1 point 9 days ago[-]

I suppose you're making the assumption that because you cannot see the outcome of your actions on a larger scale, that they mean nothing on any scale.

It all depends what are you weighing an 'action' against. Personally, I find that my life makes sense, has 'weight', if only for the minuscule chemical reactions that take place within the beautiful head of my loved one, who's life I touch everyday.

But I think you're saying that, because we are contained within this universe, and after we all die the universe will still exist and humanity will be long forgotten, and long after entropy has caused even the universe to cease it's existence that nothing matters because the weight of our actions will not be see able, remember able or knowable at that point?

Well thats bullshit, because I made a girl smile this morning. And if time isn't a continuum then that smile lasts forever, somewhere. I made a girl smile forever.

You'll get over it. Trust me, everyone goes through this faze. You're just a little immature, but that fades with age and experience and eventually you won't find making bleak statements about the fragility and hopelessness of life to be as interesting and profound as you once might have thought.

Good luck with life. I hope you find whatever it is you need to make your actions mean something.

deadilyduplicate [S] 0 points1 point 9 days ago* [-]

It all depends what are you weighing an 'action' against. Personally, I find that my life makes sense, has 'weight', if only for the minuscule chemical reactions that take place within the beautiful head of my loved one, who's life I touch everyday.

Yes and I have no problems with finding meaning in life. But you don't have to live your live blissfully unaware of the glaring nihilism. I can find meaning and still have the knowledge that this meaning is not absolute or objective.

I don't need to ignore this fact in order to be happy. To me that is immature.

(Edit: And it is unfair for you to me making assumptions about who I am. I am neither the author of the piece I submitted nor particularly young. I have gone in and out of phases of every flavour and didn't like the quote because it was profound, I liked it because of its critical tone.)

1 comment:

J_CarrToonist said...

Kudos to your son! I was the one that created the submission your son was responding to. I remember finding his comment refreshingly upbeat, he has a good perspective on life.

It amazes me to hear that your son is only 12 years old and muses on such profound topics.

I hope you plan on nurturing this side of him.