Bad Grade. Bad Dad. Bad Deal.


Here is the deal.Bad Grade.  Bad Dad.

Raising a teenager (preteen… criminal… whatever) is a lot of work.

Being employed in the same school building as the above mentioned teenager/nut job is fun.

And a complete total nightmare.

Here’s why.

Our school district has a new student managment system. This allows parents to track their children’s grades on a daily basis.

Or in my case, a fourteen times a day basis.

Our school district also employs the Tech Queen of our house as the official technology grunt (if you are a technology grunt you will know exactly what I mean… and you should stop reading this blog and get back to the list of 1,014 things you need to get done by tomorrow that should have been done three months ago).

This week all of this nearly collided in a confusing ordeal I like to call "I’m Going to Her Classroom and Punch Her in the Throat!".

Now, I know violence is never the answer.

But to review, she’s a teenager.  Or at least is headed down that awful path.

My troubles (and hers) started when the Tech Grunt was sitting at her desk surrounded by roughly 14 people with questions and 6 computers.

Basically, her area of the school looks exactly like the control room at NASA.

If they had more computers.

Turns out she was having trouble with the new student management program, so much to my surprise big changes were on the way.

Meanwhile, in the actual control center of the school district (my office… which isn’t really in control of anything, but I like to think we are) I was checking the Evil Spawn’s grades.

When I logged on I immediately saw she had flunked a test.

Much to her surprise, the superintendent was about to storm into her classroom and read her the riot act as she sat quietly at her desk reading a book and dreaming of a day when the annoying superintendent would no longer be working in the same building in which she attends school.

I really do know my behavior isn’t approriate, but come on… an F on a test?

We can’t have this.

At least we can’t if she’s going to continue to live in my house and eat all of my food and enjoy the 5,000 TV stations I provide for her.

Plus, she can’t get into vet school and support her elderly parents if she can’t pass 6th Grade Literature.

As fate would have it, she didn’t really flunk this test (but there will be others… and mark my word I will be there to haunt her).

The Tech Grunt had gone in and manually added this "test" grade because she was working on the new system and needed a guninnea pig student with a bad grade.  Notice how I misunderstood the word "test".

So to review, the grade (test…fake…whatever) was added, I was angry (and clueless), the Evil Spawn was in danger of not living to enjoy pepperoni pizza at lunch (which isn’t bad by the way), and the Tech Grunt was disgusted by my anger directed towards what up to this point has been a very nice little girl.

I may need a new job.

Or counseling.

Or at least a heads up on what are real bad grades and fakes ones.

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Two Full-Time Jobs is Two Too Many.


For the last month or so, I have been largely absent from this blog (sure I’ve posted the occassional video that interested me or made me laugh until I nearly wet myself).It's a Delicate Balance.

I’ve gotten a few emails asking why.

Well, at my age you get to laughing really hard and before you know it you’ve accidently….

Oh, you were wondering why I haven’t blogged more.

My bad.

There are a couple of possible reasons.

One is I always promised myself when I ran out of things to say and I started to struggle with what to write, I would stop immediately and blow the blog up.

That day is not yet here.  But I hope it’s soon because I do enjoy an explosion.

The real reason I haven’t been around is I’ve been a bunch of other places.

School.  Home.  Game.  School.  Home.  Game.  School.  Home.  Game.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention sleep.

In the world of school administration, late July and early August are busy.

Really busy.

This has been compounded by the world of Teenage Evil Spawn (I miss carefree Little Girl Evil Spawn… although I was not a huge fan of Baby Evil Spawn).

Her world is busy.  Really busy.

When she was born, I don’t recall the doctor telling us how incredibly time-consuming and expensive her existence would become after the age of 10.

Actually, the only thing I remember the doctor saying is "Don’t worry, she won’t break."

So far, so good but there have been a couple of close calls where she cracked.

What I have learned as a parent is children require a lot of attention

Games, clubs, events, church, parties, school, 4-H, friends, sleepovers, movies, camps…. the list could go on and on.

Basically, my role in all this is to be there.  Or get her where she needs to be.

I’m like Secret Service without the ability to talk into my wrist.

My parent job isn’t brain surgery, but it does cut into my "Me" time (and it is all about me…).

All of this doesn’t sound too taxing, but it does eat up time like nobody’s business (actually it’s my business and it used to be my time).

This coupled with my day job as a school superintendent, has forced me to put the blog on the back burner this summer.

But like most years, summer is winding down so I’m sure my schedule will slow down.

I’m not sure what this says about our society when I know my schedule will be easier once my full-time job picks up again and I’m working 60 hour weeks.

But I sure am looking forward to it!

Have a good school year.

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Let Me Tell You a Little Story About the Grossest Hotel Room Ever.


Actually, it’s not a story about a seedy hotel, but that doesn’t matter.Much Cleaner.  I Mean Much Cleaner.

You are here for the gross part and I’m not about to disappoint.

Let me start at the beginning.

The Evil Spawn was wrapping up her summer season of softball, so we had one final trip. 

I say summer season, because next year starts in about 8 minutes because June 2013 is just around the corner and we’ve got to get these girls practicing (sarcasm alert!).

Since we had this one last tournament and we were tired of living in No Tell Motels, we had the ingenious idea to rent a house.

It would be fun.

It would be close to Lake Michigan.

The whole family together.

It would be like a vacation, except for the fact that 14 hours a day we would be sitting in lawn chairs at some faceless softball field in 197 degree heat.

Actually, it’s fun.  Except for the part where your underwear starts sweating.  I hate that.

One would think a person’s underwear would dry out in extreme heat, but it’s just the opposite.

But, I digress.  We rent this house and it seems like a great idea.

I probably wouldn’t have done this 10 years ago, but now with the interweb it’s just so simple.

Pictures online.  Reviews by other God fearing kind-hearted folks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out a lot.

The pictures didn’t exactly reflect the level of disgusting that wrapped itself around the house like a thick winter coat on a chubby 4-year old.

Turns out people who rent their homes for money don’t use the word "filthy" or the phrase "should be condemened" when they are trying to make a buck.

I should have realized we had a problem when cockroaches met us at the front door.  And they were on their way out.

The look on my wife’s face as she was sentenced… I mean walked in to this rental property was disturbing.  She looked like a teenage girl in a horror movie when the phone rings and the call is coming from inside the house.

She was scared.  And rightfully so.

The highlights were as follows:  old food in the refrigerator, a mysterious hair attached to the TV remote, enough trash hidden under the raised cabinets to start your own dump, and a cat in the corner of the bedroom.

Actually, it wasn’t a cat.

It was a dust bunny in the shape of a 47 pound cat.  I swear it growled at me when I reached down to pet it.

I was afraid to turn on the lights.  Not because I didn’t want to see more dirt, but because I was frightened to touch the light switch.  There was a layer of something on it that reminded me of a petri dish.

I could go on and on, but it gives me the willies and I feel like I need to save part of this story for my therapist.

And as a favor to all of my loyal readers, I’m not even going to tell you my theory on the mystery hair.

My wife tried in vain to find a hotel room for us to stay in, but they were all booked.  Turns out Priceline and William Shatner couldn’t save me on this night.

So I went with Plan B.

I slept in my clothes.

I did survive the night, but then I had to use the restroom and shower.

Honestly, in my 44 years on this Earth, I don’t recall feeling dirtier after a shower than before.  And I grew up in an era where you showered after high school PE.

Something positive did come out of this experience (besides the partial refund).

I have a whole new respect for my wife’s fear of portapotties (she can’t be the only one who would rather explode than take one step into these plastic boxes of infection).

Actually, now that I think about it, I would have been better off sleeping in a portapotty.

As an added bonus it was our wedding anniversary.

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I Am Glad My Daughter Was Born After Title IX.


The Evil Spawn and millions of other young ladies are very lucky to have Title IX.

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Life in a Sentence.


The Evil Spawn did something wrong.It's Always Someone Else's Fault.

I point it out, nicely and politely (it’s my story… so I was very nice and very polite).

She says "It’s your fault."

I said "But you did it."

She responds "I know.  It’s just no fun blaming yourself."

And that my friends sums up society as we know it.

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Youth Sports Spelled Backward is Stressful.


Or maybe it’s stropshtuoy.Stress Makes Me Old.  Older.

No matter how it’s spelled, it’s way more stressful than I ever imagined.

I coached for a long time.

Some people would say way too long (by some… I mean all).

As a school administrator, I’ve had to throw my share of over-zealous parents out of games for griping at the referees and coaches.

Or both (and honestly, if you’re about to be tossed out of a gymnasium in front of your peers you might as well yell at everyone).

My assumption was these people were insane.

Who gets so caught up in a child’s game that they have to be removed by a mild-manner kind-hearted person like me?

I was wrong.  We are all insane.

At least when it comes to watching our kids.

It’s in our genes (in my first draft I spelled this "jeans" which is actually funnier).

It’s easy to lose perspective when your child loses.  Or fails.  Or doesn’t get to play.

I’ve known for a long time that The Evil Spawn’s childhood would not go smoothly.

I anticipated visits from the local police.  Long chats with the District Attorney.

Neck tattoos.  Numerous piercings.  Fake IDs.  Boyfriends 35 years older than her.

I knew there would be late night car chases.  Liquor store robberies.  And various other crimes that I hoped would always be misdemeanors.

After all, what kind of father would I be if my only daughter was committing felonies?

What I didn’t count on was the pain and suffering of watching her grow up and being effected by the decisions of other adults (not in law enforcement).

Coaches.  Umpires.

Evil, evil people.

No one told me at the hospital when she was hatched, how challenging this time of her life could be.

I had no idea the pain and suffering one has to go through while sitting in a lawn chair watching her attempt to hit a softball (by the way… there is NO WAY that first pitch was a strike!!!).

Life is bound to get simplier when she is 16.  Or 17.  Or 18.

It will won’t it?

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My Graduation Speech.


It’s that time of year where schools and universities pay a lot of money for bad graduation speeches.Life Stinks.

I want in on this.  I don’t think you have to be an alumni or a politician to bore people silly.

Plus, I could use the cash.  So, here we go.

Dear Students:

Congratulations on making it this far.  You thought high school and college was the best time of your life.

You were right.

Now the work begins.  If you can find it.

Adults in your life don’t tell you the whole truth, especially when you are graduating from high school or college.  They are just happy you are not in jail.

Plus, they love you.  They have to.  It’s the law.

They also don’t want to tell you the truth because they don’t want to watch you cry like a junior high boy

So I’m going to.

I’m not here to completely crush your hopes and dreams, but it’s probably going to happen so you might as well sit back and take it.

1).  Life stinks.

It’s hard and complicated.  Nothing about life even remotely resembles what you see on commercials or in vacation brochures.

Life isn’t a sitcom.  It’s a drama.  Or tragedy.  Depends on how lucky you get.

Your parents and grandparents have traveled a difficult path to get you here, so now it’s your turn.

Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy road.

2).  Happiness.

Today you are happy.  There will be hugs.  And gifts.  And cake.

Tomorrow you will wake up unemployed and deeply in debt.

Happiness will have left the building.

This situation will improve for some of you.  Others will continue to wake up unemployed and deeper in debt for years to come.

I paid off my last student loan at the age of 35.  I got lucky.  That’s early.

Take my advice and expect the worse.  That way, if life doesn’t consistently kick you in the face you will be pleased.

Just for the record, anticipate a lot of face-kicking.

3).  Don’t Screw Things Up.

Just do what you are supposed to do.  Mow your yard.  Pay your bills (if you can find a job).  Be polite. Volunteer once in a while.  Don’t cheat on your taxes too much.

You will find yourself in the top 10% if you just pick up your trash and hold doors open for old ladies.

Don’t leave here thinking you are going to make the world a better place in the next 20 minutes. 

We don’t need more saviors.  We need solid citizens who don’t make things worse.

This sounds easy, but as you stumble through life look around and you’ll notice a lot of people who aren’t helping.

If you don’t believe me go to the mall and watch people walk by for 15 minutes and you will understand exactly what I’m saying.

4).  Get Married or Shack Up. 

I don’t care which one you do and I’m not here to judge.  I don’t care about your personal life because I have problems of my own (she’s 11 going on 37).

But when you do hitch your wagon to someone else try and pick someone you like.

Don’t do it for money.  Or looks.  Or so his or her dad will give you that job that you desperately need.

Marry (or not) a person who will make you smile 70 years from now.

Life is short, but bad relationships are forever.

There is nothing worse than eating breakfast with someone you want to stab in the eye with a fork (or so I’m told).

5).  Don’t Reproduce and Mate Smartly.

This is an important one.

If you are unemployed, in debt, immature, hung over, angry at your parents, wear sweat pants more than once a week, or dumb – please don’t think you have to bring children into this world.

They are lot of work.  And expensive.

Once you have them, the government won’t let you give them away (learned this one the hard way).

Life is a marathon not a sprint.  You don’t have to have children in your 20′s.  Or at all.

Just because people ask you "When are you having kids?" doesn’t mean you have to do it.  Most of the time they are just asking because they have children and want you to feel the pain and suffering they go through on a daily basis.

If you must reproduce, realize it is very likely you will be just as bad a parent as your mom and dad.

Think about this before you go to the bar and start hitting on another unemployed broke person.

Don’t create another human just so you can mess them up like your parents did you.  That’s not fair.

To you.  The child.  Or the rest of us.

7.  Your Parents.

They aren’t crying today because you are all grown up.  They are crying tears of joy.

They are tired of paying for you.  They want their house back.  And their lives.  They are tired of you tearing up their stuff. 

They no longer find a 2:00 am phone call from you amusing.  There is no such thing as a "minor" traffic accident when you are driving their car.

Look at them.  They used to be young and vibrate, then you showed up.  Now they are old and tired.

Tired of you.  Tired of your laundry.  Tired of your bills. 

Sure, they will say you are welcome to move back home until you get on your feet, but what they really want is you out of their hair and at least 2 hours away.

They only have a few good years left.  Don’t ruin it for them by mooching off them for the next decade.

Allowances are for kids.  Not 25 year olds.

You will know life is winning if you are sleeping in the same bed you occupied when you were nine.

Also, adults don’t have posters on their bedroom walls.

8).  Take Care of Your Health.

We are all day-to-day.

Life is short and soon you will be dead.  This is one of those things people won’t tell you.

But I guarantee you, not one person in this room will make it out of life alive.

Enjoy the few days or years you have left. 

Old people will constantly tell you life goes fast.  They’re right.

They didn’t get to be old by being stupid.

Certain days will drag on and on, but the weeks, months, and years fly by.  Faster than you can ever imagine.

The moments are precious.  In fact, as I stand here I’m asking myself why I wasted the last several minutes talking to you.

Slow down when you get a chance.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Take a nap at every opportunity, because this journey called life, while quick, is exhausting.

8).  Credit Cards.

Cut them up.  Pay cash.  Understand the difference between a want and a need.

Don’t try and keep up with the Jones’ down the street because it’s highly likely they are up to their….. in debt.

You don’t need a boat, horse, pool, motorcycle, 12 bathrooms, or a vacation home to be happy.

New cars are for suckers.  Never invest in a sure thing.  Stay out of Las Vegas.

Understand the stock market always drops.

Always save for a rainy day, because all of us are about 30 seconds away from a monsoon.

True happiness is not tensing up when the phone rings because you think it might be a bill collector.

True happiness is having at least $1 more at the end of the month than you need.

9).  Diplomas.

They mean nothing.

It’s a piece of paper.  A piece of paper you could have printed up for yourself 4 years ago (it’s called Photoshop people).

Life is about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.

Some of you will obtain doctorates and fail miserably.

Others of you will know people who dropped out of high school and have become quite successful.

Life isn’t fair. 

The sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be. 

Don’t be afraid to work.  No job is beneath you.

You don’t get a fancy office and a big title just because you cheated your way through school.

You get those things after you work hard, not before.

10).  Expectations.

Set them low.  Really low.

Hope for the best, but expect the absolute worst.

The odds of you being great aren’t good.

That takes luck.  And a job.  And more luck.

Set your sights on being mediocre.

Mediocre is fine.  Mediocre can make you very happy.

The world is full of mediocre people.  There is only one Bill Gates.  There’s lots of you.

In conclusion, I would like to share the secret to life. 

A wise old man once told me to "Show up and shut up."  I suggest you do the same.

Good luck.  You are going to need it.

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Easter Bunny Stopped By. Streak Continues.


Another holiday. 

Another acknowledgement to all that is good in the world.No One is More Surprised Than Me.

Our floppy eared friend showed up.  And she cleaned up.

The Evil Spawn continues to believe.

I sensed a slight hesitation, but not a word was said.

This would be year number 11 if you are keeping score at home.

This process has lasted longer than I ever could have imagined.

Only 260 days until Christmas.

Will she make it?

I hope so.  Because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

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Fear of Flying.


Tomorrow, I get on a plane for Washington, D.C.

I will be visiting the headquarters of Discovery.

I’m very excited.  I’m hoping to meet Mike Rowe, the Mythbusters, or maybe the nut jobs from Storm Chasers (really… it’s pouring down rain… go inside already).

Meeting important people (even unstable ones) will be the fun part.

The bad part is flying.

I don’t fear flying, I just have some concerns.

On the list is the inevitable groping I always have to endure at the airport.  This time could be especially painful since I’m still trying to bounce back from my "vacation".

Another thing I always worry about is changing time zones.  It’s confusing.

When I travel and have to go from one time zone to another, two things invaribly happen.

One, I’m always hungry.  And two, I’m always doing math in my head to figure out why I’m starving at 9:30 in the morning.

But the biggest thing that scares me about flying is the unknown.

And I don’t mean how does a giant metal tube hurtle through the air.  Or will a flight attendant slam a metal cart full of nothing good to eat into my elbow just as I doze off?

My biggest concern is who I will sit by.

I can’t be the only one who gets on a plane and then waits.

Waits while passenger after passenger boards.  I check them all out to see which one I might not want to sit by.

Don’t get me wrong, 99 out of 100 people I’m good with sharing a row.

It’s the one percent that concerns me.

And you know who I’m talking about.

The mom.

The mom with a baby.

The mom with a newborn baby.

The mom with a newborn baby who has never flown before.

The mom with a newborn baby who has never flown before and the baby has a terrible ear infection.

There’s one on every flight (or maybe it just seems like it).

My only hope is they won’t sit by me.

It’s not that I dislike this mom. In fact, I feel sorry for this mom.

I survived (barely) 6 months of a colicky Evil Spawn.

And I don’t want to go back there.

Ever.

So keep a good thought for me.  I know I can’t avoid the groping, so I’ll just ride that out.

But the crying.

I can’t take the crying.

"Please walk by me… please walk by… please… I promise you God I’ll be good… if they just walk by… please… please…"

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Children Should Not Be Allowed to Do Homework in the Car.


I blog about what I know.

Maybe that’s why I don’t blog more often.

These days, the Evil Spawn is the center of our universe.

Not because she’s a good kid.  Or an only child (this only applies if you don’t count my son, Buddy the Dog).

Everything revolves around her because she’s involved in everything.

Basketball.  Softball.  Piano.  The drums.  4-H.  Church choir.

You name it and she wants to be a part of it (except cleaning her room… because I’ve named it… and she wants NO part of it).

She’s busy.

Which means we are busy.

I’m not sure who decided 10 year olds can’t drive, but they obviously didn’t have a 10 year old who needed to be transported to 8 different things on a Tuesday evening.

This new kind of life for children is an adjustment for me.

When I was a kid back in the late 70′s and early 80′s we weren’t nearly this busy.

We had time on our hands.

We rode our bikes.

We played in the woods.

We threw rocks in ponds.  And at street signs.  And at trains (don’t judge me).

We complained about being bored.

Now it’s all different.

There are practices.  And games.  And camps.  And uniforms to wash.  And overnight trips. 

Mostly, there isn’t time to sit around and watch the world pass by.

I don’t think this new world is all bad.

But it’s certainly different.

I can’t imagine what things will be like when The Evil One is a parent (scary, I know… but yes, she will one day give birth to the Evil Grandchild).

I can’t imagine kids will be busier than they are now, but what do I know (to review… I think we established I know little or nothing earlier in this blog).

I do think I have a solution.  A law.

A law that makes it illegal for children under the age of 16 to do homework in the car.

This wouldn’t solve all of the worlds problem, but it would certainly slow down youth sports.

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.