Father Time is coming for me. He's already reached into my scalp and pulled out gray hairs. I'm not yet 30. This week, I refrain from button-pushing. The freshness of school start-offs is always somewhat spring-like. Guys get to go and hone their girl-chasing abilities that were almost numerically unhoned the year prior. Girls get to peacock their new hair, makeup and whatever outfittings television tells them are in style. And some of the 16-year olds get to show up to class donning a new set of wheels that, in the majority of cases, mommy and daddy paid for out of love. I did nothing for my first vehicle. My dad dropped several grand on a beautiful ride for me for one reason only – it made him happy to see me happy.
Schools are tilting towards 8 cylinders, methodically pushing each age grouping one class further towards debt and the harshness of adulthood. It's not all bad, of course, but bill money does have to come from somewhere. My biggest high school concern was making a mistake on the athletic field and being seen. I was unashamedly unconcerned with winning anything – and I was concerned only with making certain nobody ever got past me with the ball. If the team lost, no problem – so long as it wasn't because of my own screw-up. And that was it, man. Simplicity. Serenity. I was aware of the less privileged kids in my own district, but exposure on my part to the real nature of their problems never took place. My sheltering came by way of a three-storey home and parent-given money for the weekends.
An accompanying story on the front page dealt with a poverty simulation put on by the CMCA – a noble, well-intentioned and well-planned undertaking. When I see statistics cited by groups like this I see struggle. I see innocent children placed in an undeserved setting. I see parents pawning toasters and wedding rings to buy a box of Kraft to put a smile on the face of their 5-year old. I didn't see that before I had my own kids. And that's what Father Time does. He teaches you things about others. Not all of the referred-to parents with the poverty label are crouched in a darkened room with needles hanging out of their arms. People in Cooper and Howard Counties – a lot of them – have little money through no fault of their own.
The last piece of innocence our country has is our children. Everything else is gone. I've always hated the cliche that "children are our greatest natural resource," but then again, I hate all cliches. So many kiddos are beaten by parents that will never be found out by the authorities. They never tell, because their love for their parents is unconditional. A reckoning will never take place in this life and the only fallback we have as a society is to hope one will in the next. But, anyways, school's back in session and it's fun to watch little ones scuttle with oversized backpacks out of minivans and buses.
Page 2 of 2 - Father Time's coming and I'll have grandkids before I know it. And then I'll be dead. High schoolers – once that tassel hangs over your face come the end of grade twelve, the pace will pick up to an extent you cannot imagine.