Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

Back to School Open House

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James Martin
Friday, August 31, 2012

The other night we had the open house at school for our two youngest kids. They got their books with directions to take them home and cover them with paper bags.  Now there is a family myth that I have never helped with this task. I categorically deny this assertion.  I grant that I may not have competently done it, but I did help in the past.   

If only the bags from Piggly Wiggly came with directions: fold here, tape there, insert book cover into flap A, turn over and insert back cover into flap B.  But I looked throughout the bag and found no directions.  Apparently this is some inherent parental skill; a skill that I lack.  My solution was to just wrap it in duct tape.  At that time it was determined my assistance was no longer required.  Dad secret number 12, if you incompetently do things that you don't enjoy, you are rarely asked to help do them in the future. 

In a new twist, the infamous school pictures were taken at the open house.  It was a sight to see.  Little girls in pretty dresses with matching hair decorations and kindergarten boys wearing clip-on ties with hair calics proclaiming it was school picture day.  It reminded me of my school pictures and in retrospect I would pick on me too, and I only got as far back as my wedding photos. 

I noticed that there was a table with information on bullying. I was unclear if we were supposed to sign the kids up to be bullies or victims.   I don't really think I want my kids to be a bully, but I am also against them being life long victims collecting government checks because they never learned to stand up to bullies.  In the end bullies always lose.  Isn't that what we learned from Coward of the County, The Karate Kid, and Revenge of the Nerds.  And in the real world, the bullies in school end up working for the people they picked on.  Revenge is sweet.  Ultimately, I decided against signing them up for either.

The thing I remember most about the start of school was that feeling in my stomach: part nerves, part anticipation, part fear, and part training for those days in which it would hurt too much to go to school and face my vocabulary test.  This latter condition is now diagnosed as Ferris Bueller Flu.  It is highly contagious, amongst your closest friends, and can be terminal if you really do total your father's Porsche.

We celebrated the return to school with dinner out and a toast to the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.  And that's the great thing about endings, they turn into new beginnings. 

Last updated: 10:46 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

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