Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fathers Day

Apathy Jack writes:

Okay, when I first started the grueling uphill climb towards a job in the education industry, there were a surprisingly large number of people telling me what a good and noble thing it was I was doing. Specifically because there weren't enough male role models in today's schools, and we needed more men in teaching.

Well, nice of you to say, I always thought, but, in essence, bollocks.

I thought about the attributes that a role model is meant to have. I don't now, and have never had any real heroes. There are people I admire, but they all do flash and amazing things - They fight the big guys, or write amazing truths, or generally do things that not many others have the bravery, perseverance or bloody minded stupidity to do.

People don't really need male role models to teach them anything. I never had one of these mythical figures shining a guiding light on the path to my functional maturity, and I turned out okay.

I've always known I was okay, I've always known that I could do anything in particular that I wanted, that I would make a success of whatever I put my mind to. I didn't need any role models to tell me these things. I didn't need anyone to affirm me or show me the proper ways to be the well-rounded person I was. It sounds silly for someone nursing a set of complexes the size of those I carried with me through my youth to say I was self confident, but I was always self secure. I always knew I would be successful, that I could accomplish anything, that I would come out on top, that I would one day own the world (at least my small part of it, anyway).

But as I pondered this, a time from my childhood flashed into my mind.

I was about 8 or 9, living in a dilapidated, near century old ruin in the country (as opposed to the dilapidated near century old ruin in the center of town I live in these days). My father was engaged in part of the running repair job he constantly waged for our half decade occupancy, rewiring a wall socket. Now, I was eight - role model or no, a kid that age always has flashes of wanting to be like his Dad (I would have wanted to be like Mum, but near as I can tell, her job involved having mock gunfights with vaginal speculums - or at least, that's what me and my brother did with the medical equipment she was storing at home).

In this quest to be like Dad that one time, I asked him to show me how to do what he was doing.

I'm pretty sure he didn't even look around, he just kept working as he matter-of-factly told me that I wouldn't ever have to learn how to do what he was doing, because when I grew up, I would pay someone to do that sort of thing.

There's nothing wrong with being a labourer, or a shop-monkey, or any other job that you don't need a fancy city education for, but I was always raised to know that I was going to go higher, that I would choose my path rather than have it chosen for me. I was raised with the expectation that I would go far in this world, not held back by any limitations. And it wasn't an expectation from my parents, it was one I had of myself.

And you know, perhaps the reason I always knew that I'd make good, that I was always going to do well in whatever I chose, was because that's the way I was raised every day. The presence of this support and affirmation so ever-present that not only did I take it for granted, I didn't even notice it until I looked for it much later.

My father has always told me that I could do anything. He's always made sure I knew that I can go to him in times of hardship, that he will be there if and when I need him.

I'm still not convinced that we really need male role models (not only am I not spectacularly good at being a bloke, but I find the whole thing rather distasteful) but I know that my Dad had a big hand in making me into a good person, and ensuring my happiness.

Yeah yeah, I know I'm not being cynical enough - Fuck you all, I don't say this stuff enough.


LILLAY said...


damian_nz said...

I've been asked to go back to my old school and talk to them about careers.

Now, career-wise, I'm a failure. I live in a garden shed, I wear second-hand mismatched clothes, I don't have a job, I've been known to eat food that came out of dumpsters (been hanging with the punk kids a bit much..) I don't have any long term aspirations other than to never let myself get tied into a career.

But I'm going to go do it anyway, and I'm going to tell a class or multiple classes full of kids that this idea we have of 'career' is bollocks, that you don't need one, what you need to do is /recognise that your life is *yours*/ and live it the way you want to live it.

... I ran a men's forum down here in Welly the other weekend, and one of the things that emerged from that for me was that men desperately do need role models /and they need to be non-macho role models/.

By being a male teacher who (by the sound of things) doesn't just bend over and take whatever the world gives you you're being a profoundly important role model, in a world where the dominant social and political emphasis is to /do the thing which gets you the most money/ you do the thing that's the most /fun/, and don't think they don't get that, subconsciously if not consciously.

damian_nz said...

Wicked post, btw. You should write like this more. Cynicism is great but when a cynic makes positive arguments they tend to be great.

PS, I've put my mum, who's a chemistry teacher of similar social/political bent to you, on to a couple of your posts and she's much enjoyed them.

liver said...

A lot of people get all up in arms about childre, especially boys, needing father figures. The thing is what they need is good father figures. Frankly my 14yr old substitute is a hell of a lot better than the actual one.

Other people piss me off a lot when they have opinions concerning me.

RSJS said...

...I have opinions about you, Liver...

liver said...

Everyone has opinions about me. Including that stupid woman who thought that me and my brother were a couple with our little baby. He looks 12! Goddamit...