An Ugly Education

We’re in the final year of my forties and as the days roll closer to the proverbial half century mark it becomes harder to see how certain situations will be resolved amicably.

People tell me that I ought to think long and hard about such things which reminds me how often advice is based upon what the other person finds comfortable and not what is good for the recipient of the advice.

The truth is I know exactly what I think and feel about several significant situations. Add some hope and gut feeling and a dash of expectations and you have one of those wacky recipes for a life that is not going to take the easy road.

It is too damn short and there comes a time when you act.

An Ugly Education

I have taught my children to try to avoid unnecessary confrontations and to be cognizant of what battles are worth fighting.

You can’t be like Don Quixote and attack every windmill that offends you or fight with every idiot you encounter because both are endless.

But you can’t be afraid to take a stand either or recognize that sometimes you fight with the idiot who doesn’t understand their role.

And so I find myself on the verge of helping someone enjoy an ugly education, not because I want to, but because I have to.

Because there comes a point where not doing so provides a disservice to family and to myself.

Part of me feels badly about it, but not enough to stop me from following through. Some requests only seem to be adhered to when you use a blow torch upon the feet of another.

It is a sad thing, but when they find it painful to walk it serves as a daily reminder to be thoughtful about how and where they step.

Or in other words, it helps them remember that your favorite Taurus will be calm until he is not and after that he will gore, trample and stomp on you.

Verbally that is. 🙂


We’re wrapped up in a conversation about people and it couldn’t be more clear how differently men and women approach this.

When my daughter rolls her eyes and says something about boys being ridiculous I laugh and tell girls aren’t logical either.

“I am not making a value judgment and saying boys or girls are better. We’re just different in how we approach some things.”

She make a few more remarks and I tell her it is true that I understand boys better than girls. The thought process regarding some things is far more familiar to me and that makes it easier to follow.

It doesn’t mean that I understand everything because I don’t, but certain things I just get the same way she does.

We go back and forth for a few more minutes and she asks me if I was listening to that old guy I listen to sometimes.

I don’t say anything and put on a Johnny covering Seeger and smile when she makes a face.

Her eyes narrow and she tells me she doesn’t want to know what I am thinking and I say nothing.

Doing My Best

We have another conversation later on and I tell her I am doing my best to be a good dad and I might screw up, but not every time.”

She just looks at me and I add a few more thoughts.

“You may not always like or agree with my choices and that is ok too. You don’t have to.”

This parenting act isn’t easy and sometimes it is beyond hard.

We talk for a few more minutes and I promise her I have her back and then remind her very few choices are life long commitments.

“Sometimes those are adjusted too because who you are today may not be who you are tomorrow and sometimes you need to remember you are not a tree that is rooted to one place. Sometimes you have to move.”


The funny thing about the approaching half century mark is how relaxed I have become about some things.

There is so much I used to care about that I don’t anymore.

But at the same time my tolerance for other things just doesn’t exist which is why an ugly education is truly ugly.

If the need is there it is because diplomacy has failed.

I guess that is why it is ugly.

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