With our smartphones, sometimes it seems as if we are running the world. Perhaps we are not ‘running the world’ but feeling as if we are, to make up for our not always reaching goals we may have had.
I am totally unable to control so many things and being somewhat of a control freak, that is a tough lesson to learn. Surprisingly, I am often way more flexible than anyone would believe. Once, during my teaching career, I directly asked my principal what was holding me back, career-wise, in my quest to be department chairman or something else within my school. He told me that the only thing was that some of my colleagues within the department felt that I was somewhat rigid and inflexible. Clearly they did not know me. My father-in-law, who was also in the same department and had the same unsuccessful quest I had, told me to beware of the ‘women in that department.’ He felt that there was an interesting clique of power and one that was not always on the beam. As it turns out, he was right, my department ended up with a series of department chairs of dubious quality, one of whom I even nicknamed Caligula.
My father-in-law was perhaps the least sexist man I have ever met in my life. He was also one of the least racist human beings I have ever met as well. He was a scholar, in my eyes, and unfortunately not a person to truly become what I thought he should have been, a revered college professor in a red brick college somewhere. His academic gifts were many; his shortcomings were that he didn’t always ‘get’ the students he was teaching. However, I don’t see that as a great fault as human beings need to encounter all kinds of individuals as they proceed academically and they need to learn how to deal with them. My father-in-law, teacher of German and Spanish, had a wealth of information and talents that far superseded his gift being a ‘language sponge,’ something that he imparted to his daughter who totally followed in his footsteps as a German (and Spanish) teacher.
One thing I had over my father-in-law was my gift of reinvention. Each time I had a setback, and my setbacks would only be setbacks to me, not to others, I came back in a new way.
My father-in-law could not do that, nor did he really need to. I did.
But back to flexibility, I am surprisingly flexible; I need to state that to combat the trauma of being perceived otherwise. In the end, it doesn’t matter one iota as my real career has been my family and that has always been my top priority, one that forced more decisions than my language career. Having lost my dad at the age of seven made that decision quite easy. I went into teaching because I love helping others and to be with my family. I went into it as a full-force father, trying to make up for my loss.
Hopefully, when all is said and done, I will have achieved that goal.