Brick Walls Prove Your Desire.
There I was with Jack and Owen again. I have done this routine since Jack was born four and a half years ago. I babysit for him and now his younger brother once a week. I tell anyone who will listen that if they think that they love their children now, wait until their children have children. It is then that you truly understand about loving kids.
There are all sorts of reasons why this loving phenomenon occurs between grandparents and grandchildren. You can attribute part of it to your experience of parenting. Parents will worry about things that might occur while their children begin to grow up into adulthood. Things like accidents, major illnesses, and a long list of other problems cause parental concerns. Most, if not all those concerns, will not occur. Finally, grandparents are old enough to realize that their time is limited and to enjoy the moments that they have, especially with their grandchildren.
Since Jack was three years old, he and I go over his art history class textbook, which has morphed into a science class. Owen, Jack's younger brother, is only two and a half and is already into the arts and sciences. Jack will see William Turner's The Fighting Téméraire and say to Owen, "That's Papa's favorite painting by William Turner. It's called The Fighting Téméraire." Owen will quietly respond, "Fighting Téméraire."
We got into studying fossils, because I brought down to Indy a dead dragonfly that I found while cutting my yard one day. Then we studied pictures of fossilized impressions of dragonflies. They know about trilobites, fossilized dinosaur dung, and many other fossils in their collection in Indy.
If I were one of my readers of this essay, I would wonder why I am so wired about teaching Jack and Owen. Again, there are many reasons for my drive. When I was in elementary school over 60-years ago, I was an above average student in Pennsauken, NJ. However, my family moved to Mt. Lebanon when my father's company transferred him to the Pittsburgh area. He was not able to go to college because of WWII, but he wanted his children to go to college.
Therefore, he moved to Mt. Lebanon, which at the time was the 19th best school system in America. The result was that I felt like I was dumb when I went from getting A's and B's without really working to getting C's and an occasional B even when working hard. It took me half my life to determine that C's and B's was not an indicator that I was dumb in an extremely gifted school system. However, that miscalculation made me sensitive to how other students might feel going through school themselves. I will never quit teaching for that reason alone.
I have a good friend named Mike Schmitt who introduced me to a speech by Randy Pausch. Pausch and I share some interesting similarities. He taught at the college level, as I do. He got pancreatic cancer, and I got prostate cancer. However, I lucked out. I am alive and quite healthy. Nevertheless, Mike gave me this link to Pausch's Last Lecture. If you are not familiar with this video, please watch it. I have watched that video many times.
One small section of Pausch's Last Lecture involved the value of brick walls in our personal lives. Pausch said, "The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people." It was not long before I was discussing walls with Jack and Owen.
Therefore, their textbook about the arts and sciences morphed into also being into history. Since I have spent a couple of years traveling and going to school overseas, I started their class with the Great Wall of China. The following photo is in Jack and Owen's college textbook.
You can see both the blue binder, which is Jack and Owen's textbook, along with a large map of the world, which was actually a gift that Jack and Owen gave me a couple years ago. Jack can name most of the countries that I have visited and where they are located on that map. Their history lesson began by telling them about why the Chinese built the Great Wall.
We then morphed into their construction of a Great Wall in Their Playroom. Jack very methodically lays out the wall to cover the width of the carpet. I had brought them the stone building blocks that my father had when he was a toddler, which would have been nearly a century ago. Jack and Owen's aunts and uncle played with those decades ago, as did I decades before that.
Jack is precise in his construction task. First, he selects the correct block necessary to build the wall. Then he will decide where to locate the block on the wall.
Owen notices what his big brother is doing and begins the finishing off process of the wall.
It is now about halfway to completion.
Their dog often attends their college classes but sleeps through most of them. Nevertheless, Jack and Owen do not doze off. Look at the precision as they build their wall.
I then started to explain Pausch's quote about walls, "The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people."
Owen seems to comprehend that walls are opportunities as Pausch said, "The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something."
Therefore, Owen decides to make his move now, before Jack attempts to stop him from doing what he really wants to do...destroy the wall.
Then Owen goes to the other side of the wall and wonders why I am attempting to stop him. He is looking at me while toying with the idea of his toe pushing over this end of the wall. While Owen did not parrot back to me what Pausch said about walls, he clearly demonstrated just how badly he wanted to knock over their Great Wall in Their Playroom.
I think that I will revisit Pausch's thought about the value of walls in a couple of years when Jack and Owen are a little older. At that time, I will use another wall, the Berlin Wall.
At the present, I needed to address Jack and Owen arguing about destroying the wall in their playroom.
In the meantime, we, who are a bit older than Jack and Owen, need to remember Pausch's advice to us. Walls do "give us a chance to show how badly we want something." Walls are markers that define who we are in our adult world.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.