by John McNichol on September 12, 2016

Monday, Sept 12th/2016


What a lovely weekend!
We’ve had a busy one, but a productive one!
Friday night:
Football game! My Sophomores asked me: Will you come to the game, Mr. McNichol? Will you dab (the latest dance move) if we win?
Heh, I said. “If you guys win, I’ll do a dab for every point you win by!”
So what do they do? They win!
Dang! Looks like I’ll be doing the ‘dab’ this morning over 40 times! The boys ran in from the field, cheering their victory…and some went even louder when they saw me, doing the ‘dab’ right then and there! A great night.

Saturday, spent the day working on the house. Fixed the latches on all the kitchen cabinets, using the new drill I got on a bargain from Lowe’s. Then off to get a dresser for Susie, who also noted that we could stop by Lowes and get some carpet for Clairebear, so she could (ahem!) move out of Susie’s room and into her OWN room downstairs….
And she did! The carpet fit perfectly, after Susie and Dano cut it with a pair of specialized snips which they reduced to half price for us (whoo hoo!). Coupled with the paintjob they did last week, it looked like a real rom, and had a new-carpet smell to it as well. Claire was a tad nervous the first night, but loves her room now. :)
There was a HUGE high school event at my new school. Called ‘The Blaze,’ in honor of the new school mascot, it was a huge bonfire, and a laid-back, pickup soccer tournament. Susie and Dano went, and I was prepared to go home and come back later when it was done, until…well, the adults there were fun to talk to, and it was a wonderful, mild night for mid-September in Dallas. The sunset was lovely, and the skyline was just sitting there… : )  I found myself alternating between chatting with my new colleagues, and enjoying seeing the kids playing soccer, chatting with each other, being silly with water balloons…

And I realized something. At least to my eyes, The Highlands School has a unique point about its culture:

No one is shoved aside. There are no outcasts.

I know that may be difficult to believe for some, but from what I see, there’s no one who wants to join a group that is shunned. Some folks may * want * to be alone, and that’s fine, too. No one, it seems, is called weird or shunned for having good,clean fun. Here were a group of kids tossing a football. There were a half-dozen kids kicing the soccer ball. Here was a young man sneaking up on others with cups of water, and there was a girl sitting on a beach blanket with a few other kids, cracking everyone up with an improvised song on her ukulele. Groups shifted, formed, and reformed, without respect to looks, ability or economic status. In many other schools, kids would have slandered each other or engaged in the kind of vicious Darwinian social jungle activity that has been endemic to middle and high-school life for so long it’s  become a tied and sad cliché.
But I don’t see it here.

And that’s wonderful. : )
Sunday, happy birthday, Susie! She turned sweet sixteen, and spent the night at a friend’s. Picked her up and then Mass at St. Ann’s, where they were having a huge and fun carnival! Growing up, my Mom and granny often took me to things like this, and I love having the chance to bring m guys to it now. Rides, live music, petting zoos…I remembered how much of a simple joy it was to eat a barbecued burger and an icy coke on a hot day, while in a tent listening to folks play hits from yesteryear on simple 3-chord music.
Home to relax for a few hours. Jeanna twitches sometimes when we’re like this, because like many moms she sees all the things than * need * to be done, and has a hard time relaxing until they are * all * done. The trouble is, the things are * never * ‘all done…’ as every mom knows.
Night fell. Celebrated Susie’s birthday with raspberry cake and presents! She loved her ukulele, and the strings, tuner and book on how to play we got her, at her request. Thank you,! Even got a little hug from her, which was awesome. : ) Dano had to mow the lawn with the newly repaired lawnmower. I did my lesson plans for the week, and at about 8pm we said the Divine mercy chaplet and started herding the little ones off to bed. It was still light out, so Jenna and I took a little walk around Grand PRiaire, and even found a vintage toy store….my kinda pace. :)

It was when things were calmer that I realized, too, that being out here now in Texas gave a lot of change in a good way to my family. My instincts knew we needed a little change. Scratch that: A big change. And a fresh start. There were many things in life working very, very well (my job at St. John’s, some parts of the kids’ lives). But there were, without going into too much detail, a number of factors in our lives as a family that made it less than ideal. At times, it felt like I was fighting an emotional and spiritual war on two or three fronts. Here, those things (so far) are simply not factors in our lives now. And it feels great. The family is relaxed more in so many ways, and it’s led to a lot of healing and…well, I feel a quiet joy. Even when the kids are grousing at each other or unhappy with a rule, it’s not a titanic fight-to-the-death, but a quick event that we move on from quickly.
God, thank you for helping me and y family make it out here. Help me and my family to know your will, to love you, your Mother, your Church, and our siblings, the Saints, more and more,

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