And now, the exciting conclusion to Everybody Loves Tim Part One.
And here we are, some 20 years later.
For awhile, during high school and a few months after, I was doing the ‘normal Dad thing’ with Tim. You know, coaching him to go to college, offering him up with various alternatives for the future, etc. I kept running into a brick wall until I finally realized – “Tim” needs to push himself. Tim needs to be the one to figure out what it is he wants to be, what he wants to do to earn money enough to finance whatever lifestyle he wants to live.
Let’s do a big flashback and go back to the beginning. Tim was a late talker as a baby. We would try to prompt him to speak, say words, but he preferred to use grunts and hand gestures. He could tell elaborate stories as a two year old using only body gestures and grunts. It was the funniest thing. And then, something happened, I don’t know what it was but one day he decided he wanted to speak….and he never stopped. Now Tim is what most would call a conversationalist. He can chat and lead a conversation for hours on end. (Although, with that said, he’s at the age where he doesn’t want to chat much with us; we’re not cool enough I suspect).
Tim began elementary school in Ohio and finished it up in California due my job transfer. There were no issues, he got relatively above-average grades at that level. But then came middle school. With each new quarter in the seventh grade, his grades got got worse and worse. Either my wife or I spent time helping him with homework every night, even hired a tutor, but it didn’t seem to help. Tim would come home with all kinds of tales about things going on at school, none of them seemed to be uplifting. Finally, after hearing about how the Mexicans always went out back at lunchtime to smoke weed, I figured it was time to go over to the school and check things out for myself.
I began with the principal. In my own professional experience, the tone always is set at the top. The leader establishes the rules, sets the pace and creates the reward structure for the desired behaviors and results. I scheduled a brief meeting on a morning before I went into work. It took me all of ten minutes to decide this principal was a pathetic role model. She hadn’t even read a file or consulted with any of Tim’s teachers. When I expressed my concerns over Tim’s diminishing performance, she simply asked me if I’d considered special classes. Special classes? As in stubby bus? You have to be kidding. I just looked at her and I said “that’s your recommendation? Without any data at all, you’re recommending we put our son in special classes? What kind of a principal are you?”
I didn’t even listen to her response. I had been thinking about private schools due to the poor reputation of the California public schools anyway. This principal convinced me that I was on the right track. I wanted to fly off the handle, but I knew that would do no good for Tim. Instead, I cut our meeting short and thanked the principal for her time. I immediately began a thorough search for the right private school. I investigated every single private system in the Sacramento area. Many didn’t feel right for Tim for one reason or another, but then I happened to land in an open house at the Sacramento Waldorf School.
I had never heard of the Waldorf system before this open house. As I listened and as I read and studied about their unique style of teaching, the more I wished that we all were taught in this method; where the arts are valued equally with the sciences and how they are taught in conjunction with each other. Tim was a bit of a right-brainer so I felt it was a perfect fit for what he needed. The school closest to our house did not have an opening but as luck would have it, there was another Waldorf school close to my workplace.
Camellia Waldorf was, I think, the right fit for the right time. His class size ended up being only 17, offering Tim an opportunity to get more individual interaction with his teacher. I wish I had heard of it earlier as there are so many unique aspects of this system. The Waldorf teachers must be trained and certified in the Waldorf method before being allowed to teach there. The kids “make” their own books. They are taught their lessons in making their books, blending together art with the sciences. One really nice aspect is that the teacher stays with his/her class from first to eighth grade. This, along with the small class size, made for a very close-knit class. One of my favorite memories from my days of picking Tim up at school was listening to the kids shout out their love for each other: “I love you!.” “I love you more!” You tell me what public school you hear this at! If for nothing else, Tim had the opportunity to make some very nice friendships.
Please visit the following links to learn more on this interesting method of instruction.
Unfortunately, sometimes there can occasionally be negative aspects of a friendship and this was to occur to Tim. He had acquired a friend at Camellia who was generally a nice kid, but my wife and I affectionately referred to him as The Cable Guy. For those of you not familiar with Ben Stiller’s Cable Guy movie starring Jim Carrey, I wish you would go watch it. I guess it’s not for everyone, but many of us feel it is Carrey’s best performance. In the movie, Carrey was a huge “clingy stalker” in the movie. He would become attached to a person and then would entirely dominate that person’s free time. This was Tim’s friend Elmo (name changed).
Cable guy link
Elmo lived across town but attempted to spend almost every waking moment with Tim. It was almost like a relationship, but worse, like a fatal attraction. Tim’s a good looking kid and has seemed to always attract girls. He had a nice girlfriend named Cynthia (name change) whom we really liked. She was a real button. One morning he and Cynthia were hugging each other before the morning bell when Elmo got a little jealous. He was angry with Tim and asked him why he had to spend so much time with his girlfriend instead of Elmo. Tim made the fatal mistake of not seeing Elmo for what he really was and came back with a smart-ass response of ‘well, at least I have a girlfriend’. And BAM! A punch right in Tim’s eye and it hit just the right spot, breaking the orbital floor.
This was such a sad episode in Tim’s life. He could have lost an eye, but he had a great surgeon and long story short, after a small supporting plate and titanium screw, Tim was able to come out of everything in as good as shape as could be expected. He still has a tiny bit of double vision when looking down in a certain direction, otherwise, thanks to Tim’s outlook and resilience, he is just fine.
Let’s shift gears. I’m sharing a few apparently random stories to illustrate a purpose so hang in there with me. Tim’s Camellia teacher must have seen something in Tim because she made him the lead male in a couple of the 8th grade play skits. We were oblivious as to what to expect. We practiced Tim’s lines with him each night, but there was never any acting, never any inflection in Tim’s voice. He was just memorizing.
And then the night of the play came. Up came the second skit and we see Tim’s acting. I guess we should have known Tim could act because he was always such an actor around the house. He wasn’t just acting that night; he was the characters! He got messed up once or twice when someone else mixed up his/her line otherwise he was great. We were flabbergasted, there’s no other way to describe it. Other parents kept turning around in their seats to look at us and to mouth the words, “he’s really good”. But don’t take my word for it, please watch this little snip of his performance. It was his first ever.
Then there is the entrepreneurial side of Tim that we got to see. He dropped out of college after only one semester – “college isn’t for me”. He says that there’s something out there for him, but he’s just not sure yet what it is. For example, one day he bought a sewing machine and ordered some cotton tee shirts along with other material. He had an idea that he could put together a tee shirt that would have mass appeal and he could sell them. Although he gave up due to the difficulty of learning to become a master of the machine, I have to applaud his spirit – he had an idea and then acted on it.
Tim’s resilience, his ability to bounce back, his upbeat attitude, his entrepreneurial spirit, his ability to act and his ability to converse, to attract social interaction – all these factors finally resonated in me to understand that Tim needs to be Tim and Tim will be just fine – he doesn’t need me to push him. If he wants my advice, I’ll be here for him. One day he’ll wake up, he’ll look in the mirror and he’ll just decide to ‘do something’. Maybe it will be retail sales. Maybe it will be a specialized trade. Maybe it will be human resources or any number of areas that has a high level of social interaction. But I personally am not pushing and I’m not worried. A leopard has to wear it’s spots and Tim has to do things on his own terms.
A lot of people believe in destiny or things being preordained. I don’t know, maybe. What I do know is that I’m very glad I pressed for another child. Tim is a special ‘unfinished’ child; unfinished in that he’s young still, clueless really as to what he wants to do yet in life. A lot of years have passed since I talked my wife into having a third child, a lot of water under the bridge. In terms of marriage, we crossed a threshold many years ago and yada, yada, yada, our marriage got perfect! The last 15 years of our lives have been perhaps the best. I can’t fathom it being any more great. Always the long term planner, I look back now. I pat ourselves on the back and offer thanks for having the fortitude to press so hard and for hanging in there.
Out of the ashes of a rough time in our lives came a little boy that we love, that everybody loves. He’s truly our love child. He’s sloppy and his eyes are always somewhere other than where they should be when he’s doing something, but he’s lovable and he’s loved. Everybody loves Timmy.