Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Does Anyone Offer a Master Degree in Lego Construction?

School was never something I was afraid of. I did well in it. Some of the best times of my life occurred while I was going through it. I met my wife while enrolled in it. Still, once I graduated from college an undisclosed number of years ago, I was happy to be done with it.

Looking back now, I realize that I lacked the perspective that holding a career and needing to keep a job due to family expenses and medical benefits offers. Had I truly known the differences between work and school at the time I’m certain I would not have been so eager to be done with my lifestyle of waking up ten minutes before class, sitting in a lecture hall for a mere four hours of my day and concluding the evening with a round of N64 with my friends and future wife over pizza and nachos. My current average work day is far less enjoyable. Yes, I would even sacrifice the advances in gaming technology in favor of irresponsibility. Give me the original Mario Cart over credit card bills any day.

Of course it’s not that simple. There are other benefits to my current lifestyle, including but not limited to my own car, house and nearly perfect miniature genetic copies of myself with which I play the more advanced video games, have Nerf battles and build Lego sets. This all leaves me more than content with the fact that my life has moved forward. I feel no sorrow over the fact that my only connection with education now involves double-checking spelling words and algebra facts at the dining room table.

So when my wife hit me with a bold statement just before we walked into the restaurant (strung out from the road…sorry) we were about to dine in, I nearly stopped in my tracks.

“I think you need to go back to school,” she said.

I almost responded, “Awwwwww! Do I have to?” I immediately understood the way my sons feel when they leap from the table to go finish the level they paused and get called back to eat that last carrot. Instead, I responded with, “Hm,” by which I meant, “Let’s not talk about this right now.” I didn’t want to talk about it because I knew she was absolutely right.

While we had discussed my return to school numerous times throughout our marriage, my wife’s perspective was that it would happen eventually while mine was that she would stop bringing it up eventually. But something in her tone was far more serious this time. She sounded a lot like I do when I can hear my sons still giggling in bed an hour after they were supposed to be asleep on a school night. All she said was, “I think you need to go back to school,” but I also heard, “Don’t make me come in there!”

Since that moment, I’ve been reflecting what going back to school at this point in my life would mean. The first thing a man my age needs to come to grips with is the fact that returning for another degree will be nothing like the hilarious shenanigans featured in such films as Old School, Billy Madison or Rodney Dangerfield’s classic Back to School prior to even beginning the search for the right program. My priorities should have nothing to do with campus housing, the raucousness of the local frat houses or the existence of an adversarial dean with whom to match wits with. Instead, I’m going to have to consider cost, curriculum, class schedule, how many years it will take to complete and what I can ultimately do with the degree I hope to obtain when it’s all said and done. My family and work life will need to be balanced with schoolwork. Making that sort of commitment will seriously cut into my video gaming and comic book reading time. Yuck!

It’s all very scary. Like most adults, I don’t want to regress. When I move past something, I want it to remain in the past. Change from the day to day life I have worked for so long to establish is unwelcome, unless it comes in the form of a crap-load of money.

The question at hand is one I’m afraid to address: Am I brave enough to do this?

Ultimately, I must consider the source. The person I trust the most in the world has thrown down a gauntlet of sorts. The one from whom I will need the most support has asked me what I’m waiting for. It is now up to me to choose to be brave or to give up. When I look at my sons and think of all that I try to instill in them, I already know what the right choice is. That choice simultaneously excites me and sucks a little.

Here’s to hoping that I find the right program and get accepted.

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