One day my daughter unexpectedly came home from school during the fall semester. She was down at the U of C in Cowtown. I tell ya - man, I was one proud father back then. My daughter had finished up high school half a year early the year before. All her marks - top of the class or so close to it - it didn't matter. She was enrolled in the sciences and was a young woman that had the world by the tail and her life in front of her! But...why the unexpected visit? I knew I was in trouble when the doorbell went a second time, and my in-laws pushed in. My mother in law looked like she was just champing at the bit to take a piece outta me - it radiated off her. My father in law's face was set like stone. Oh shit. What are these assholes up to now?
Dammit, if yer gonna do it - do it right with DUCT TAPE. And RIVETS, maybe..
The wife put on the coffee and set out the cookies and we set down to have one of our beshitted family meetings. Little did I know that this would be the mother of all beshitted family meetings! With a long face, bolstered by the presence of her over-protective grandparents, my daughter informs me she was dropping out of school. I noted, then ignored my mother in law - the old cankle was coiled like a spring as she watched my reaction. I smugly thought to myself - "sorry to disappoint ya, you old boot - but you aren't needed here..." but to the kid I said "Well, Spud, those courses are damned tough. And you are very young! I'm not happy about it but...you worked really hard at school, and went straight into university...and if you need to take a year off, maybe get a job and decide what you want to do in life...your old bedroom is upstairs and you are welcome to it. You'll go back and do well and find something you like when YOU are ready..."
And...that's when the bomb dropped.
"Well, Dad...I'm not moving home." Eh? What's this? "I'm dropping out of the sciences at the U of C, and enrolling in Fine Arts at the Mickey Mouse College Of Liberal Arts..."
I vapour locked. And my mother in law, goddamn that stupid woman...she was almost vibrating in her chair as her fuse ticked away its final seconds.
"Wait. What?" I said, "Spud - those stupid liberal arts courses won't get you a job..." And that is when the second bomb went off. "That's not true!" the my old bat of a mother in law exploded, 'We have a nephew back east in the Maritimes that's an artist!" Right. "And how much money does HE make, you clueless bint?" I didn't say.
All edjyacashun is GOOD edyacashun! A-HYUK! A-HYUK! A-HYUK!
I frowned and ignored the old twat. "Spud," I pleaded, "Have you done an actual career study...? Graduates of those mickey mouse basket weaving courses don't get jobs! Do you know what kind of people take those arts courses? The women have mustaches and beards and the guys run around in fuggin tutus!" Then my horse-faced, clot-headed father in law waded in! "That's YOUR opinion!" he said derisively...and I was totally shell shocked by the stupidity and idiocy my in laws were pushing on my daughter! The old bat wound up and hit me again! "She has to follow her heart and her dreams, and the money and success will follow that." she nagged. "She has to find her own way...!!!" Well, my daughter was marching right off a financial and intellectual cliff - and these stupid, clueless, MORONS were encouraging her to do it! Unbelievable.
I tried to gather my wits and ignore them. "Can you show me a graduate study, kid? These places usually have stats on their students and the companies they work for!" My daughter swallowed and replied uncertainly. "It's a brand new school, Pop. This is their first year..." Bewiderment and vertigo set in...I was now thoroughly in The Twilight Zone. Were these people taking stupid pills? What in hell was my daughter thinking? And my in-laws...? What had gotten into them? Ferchrissakes - any one of them should be smarter than this. I tried again. "Have you heard about 'The Education Scam' kid? Do you know how it works?" I was still incredulous. "Please - do anything...but don't do this!" The old boot nagged again "She has to find her own way, Filthie, just like you did when you were her age..." Gawd, if I had a lead pipe I would have murdered that stupid old nag! "Spud," I begged, "You are going to ruin the next 10 years of your life if you do this..."
Goddamn them. Goddamn my idiot in-laws to hell. I will never forgive those fuckers as long as I live. They burst out laughing as if I were the clown who had just stepped on his dink. "Enough of this!" my father in law chortled, "Let's all go out to lunch and celebrate! I'm buying, my treat!" and with that they all pushed away from the table and stood up. I was livid. The family meeting was over.
"Heather, sit down." I said in a murderous, cold fury, "We gotta talk." But her father wouldn't have it. "No, you can stay home if you want, but we are going for lunch..."
I lost it. I shot to my feet, the chair flew back, and looked that stupid old bastard in the eye and said, "Take your grandaugher to lunch, Doug. Afterwards, bring her back here. As for my wife and I - we are going to have a chat." He was going to get even stupider about it...but my wife got between us and shooed them toward the door. "We won't be bringing her back after lunch," the old bastard called over his shoulder, "because supper is at our place tonight."
"Supper's cancelled." I told him and he balked - he wasn't used to being contradicted by either of us. "Bring my daughter back here after lunch," I said slowly, again, to make sure the whoreson understood it. The moron just didn't get it. "What if she doesn't want to come back here after lunch?"he said belligerently. I seriously considered dragging out the 12 bore at this point. Fuck him. Gawd, how I dearly wanted to say that out loud to him...but...respect your elders, right? My wife was almost in tears as it was. This was killing her.
"Spud," I said firmly, ignoring her shitheel of a grandfather, "I want to talk to you alone after lunch. I have some important things I still want to say. You can come back here after lunch and we can talk - alone - or I won't trouble you for your time ever again ... and you will never have to listen to me again." She picked up on the implied threat, as did all the girls...but I doubt it registered with my father in law. The girls all knew I was pushed past my breaking point, and shushed my idiot father in law and off they went. When they were gone I stormed and raged at my poor wife. She was almost in tears because she always deferred to her parents and she vapour locked too when I locked horns with them.
I was waiting when they came back, and this time I was ready for them. "Don't take off your shoes," I said to the in-laws as they piled in through the front entrance, "You're not staying!"
Deftly I pushed between my daughter and the out laws. I had this brand new, great big beer gut that had come from nowhere - and I used it to gently bop my father in law into his fat pig of a wife and bounce them back toward the front door. The old boot bopped him back with a firm return. I spiked the old fart with a blistering recovery and they both stumbled backward out the front door. The look of rage on the old man was balm to my soul! Once, more, Hector! And with a final gut-bop - they were out! My wife scooted out to sooth ruffled feathers, and I slammed the door in their faces with a sense of satisfaction. When the knob turned I locked it. I felt that anger boiling up again and turned to my daughter...and saw the eyes swimming with the tears held back...and wanted to grab her and hug her and then... just go stick my head down the toilet and flush it a few times.
But...dammit. Sometimes you gotta step up. This? This was wrong. I sat her down at the computer and we did a Monster and Workopolis search on 'artists'...and a few hokey part-time, contract, and internship free-lance jobs came up - on the other side of the country. She just shook her head and dismissed it. She wouldn't even look at the blogs of kids who had gone to school, taken mickey mouse liberal art courses - and bankrupted themselves. Their stories were all the same: where were the good jobs they were promised? They were furious, and rightfully so! So I summarized for her. "This is the career vector you're on, Spud: You will spend the next 4~5 years taking what is an essentially meaningless program. Your 'degree' will get you a job at Starbucks, or pumping gasoline or some other dumb menial job you could have gotten straight out of school. You will amass enough student debt that could otherwise make a darned nice down payment on house the size of your grandparents' place. From an economic standpoint, you would be better off living at home, unemployed and smoking weed in your room for four years - than taking this course!"
Now she was crying - so dedicated was she to this nonsense! But there was rage in those tears too. "I don't care about all that," she whispered. "What?!?!?" I roared. She was getting shrill. "I don't CARE about ANY of that! Why do you always try to undermine me Dad? Why don't you support me like Nanny and Grampy?" Nice marksmanship kid. Kill shot.
"Because they are fucking idiots. They are a couple of elderly baby boomer fucks that inherited an economic bubble of opportunity and economics you and I won't ever live to see! Jesus, kid! If you could live the good life by taking mickey mouse courses that don't involve hard work, rigour and discipline - your mother and I would have done it! I am NOT going to support this! Do you honestly think I am saying this to be mean to you? If you want to take a real program, fine - we will help out! But this? Fine arts??? Spud...you're smarter than this...why...?" I trailed off as her tears flowed ... but now she was as coldly furious with me as I had been with my in laws. I was wasting my time and my breath and wanted to weep myself as she stormed out the door to her grandparents. Progressive, liberal grandparents, who would happily undermine me as a father, and who were hellbent on destroying my daughter with good intentions. My family crumbled that day, and was never the same.
After that it was 5 years of cold war with my daughter, followed by a small thermonuclear exchange...and I never saw her again. It was 10 years of cold war with my in laws followed by a BIG nuclear exchange - and I don't want to see those assholes ever again either. They made it plain that they would not respect me and would meddle in my family if they damned well felt like it - so I pulled the pin on it all. I told my wife she could respect me or respect them - but she couldn't sit on the fence and do both. I think - I hope - my inlaws thought twice when she sided with me. It was a helluva position to put her in...but I felt the wall at my back, and I felt that poxy, progressively liberal family closing in around me and the guns, teeth and claws came out. I will not have them getting between my daughter and myself, picking sides or involving themselves in my family affairs ever again. At this stage of the game it's a bit late, and a bit like closing the barn door after all the horses got out...but for once, I had turned the tables on them. I don't know, but I suspect they were shocked by the suddenness and finality of it.
And of course, 10 years later, here we are. I was 100% right about where my daughter would be, my ex-laws were 100% wrong...and now nobody's talking to anyone else... and I prefer it that way. I suppose I should forgive the outlaws - when they were kids, all you had to do was finish high school to get a good job. My own father lived on Easy Street with a grade 10 education and a mechanic trade certificate. When I graduated in the 1980's - you couldn't wipe your arse with a high school diploma. And of course today, employers know all about the education scam and when they see phoney "education" on a resume, they put it in file 13. I know I do, if I see somebody with womens/aboriginal/gender studies in their education - I will feed their resumes to the paper shredder to make sure some idiot doesn't hire them by mistake! People like that are skilled in manufacturing grievances and dissention in the workplace and that's it.
Two generations and the entire public school system failed my daughter that day. They've ruined millions of kids since too. Oh sure, she was an adult that should have known better - but kids in university today are traumatized by people they disagree with or those that say things they don't like. They were schooled by people that thought self esteem is more important than education and ability, that it is more important to play nice than to work together, and that there will always be a sixth or seventh chance. They are told that if actions have consequences that they don't like, it's because sexism/racism/political incorrectness. If the kids are our future we are doomed - and most certainly damned.
All this sounds dire and horrible I guess, but there is still some vestiges of hope. I fought my in laws, the schools and my daughter herself to instill a sense of right and wrong, and a good work ethic. Underneath the rancid gay hipster and social justice warrior she is today - there are still the qualities she needs to get ahead and maybe to correct her life's trajectory. Somewhere in my daughter there is still that beautiful young woman that headed off to university with the world in front of her.
As for me, I fought this life-outcome all the way, and I fought those that enabled it and encouraged it. Not once did I give up or cave in - and I never will. This? Fah! This isn't over yet. The social justice warriors have trashed men like me and their families and even their careers - but they have nothing to replace us with. Have you ever noticed that the queers and other sexual freak shows are never truly happy unless they are annoying or attacking somebody else? You can give them parodies of marriage, artificial deferential treatment in the workplace, perks and bennies they don't deserve - but they're never happy. Eventually such people either discover the error of their ways and correct and save themselves - or they destroy themselves. Like booze or drug addicts - they have to hit rock bottom before they see the error of their ways too. If...when my daughter turns it around, we'll be there.
There is no need for catastrophic failures to be fatal ones.