Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ode to Shaggy

I couldn’t be more proud of my older brother. 
Shaggy is a character.  I mean, we all are in my family, but Shaggy is truly interesting.  When I was very little, I loved him SO much and wanted to be just like him.  When I got a little bigger, I changed my mind.  I still loved him, but he was all, “Ooh, Outdoor Survival Skills (Read: Grubs have lots of protein!),” whereas I was Ms. Artsy-Fartsy.  Also, he may or may not have gotten into trouble from time to time.

Well, things change.  The outdoorsy kid got accepted to the University of Missouri at Rolla where he was going to study engineering, but the band geek (that’s me) failed to get into UMKC’s conservatory.  I stayed at UMKC anyways, but eventually switched over to art education, which came as a surprise to pretty much no one.  He hung in at Rolla for two years, but the second year was one of the few students studying history at an engineering school.  Let’s just say it’s a much harder program when you’re in a fraternity, and leave it at that.

In spite of that, Shaggy grew up pretty well.  He came back to the Omaha area, where he started studying geology (again, this came as a surprise to pretty much no one – he was the one always lugging big rocks home from vacation) and met his wife while working for an outdoor adventure company.  He later started working for a local sporting goods store, and he turned out to be really good at what he was doing.  He’s knowledgeable and passionate about gear.  He’s really good at making connections with people, and he’s worked his way up in the sporting goods world, until he landed a really good job with a national company.  His wife just had their third child (time will tell whether or not Monkey is sweet or hornery), and during this vacation we helped them move into a big, beautiful house.  He may or may not still get in trouble once in a while, but…I mean, c’mon – who doesn’t?
If I had to guess, I'd say hornery...
The reason I’m telling you about Shaggy and not Babysis (who is also fabulously successful with a beautiful house and husband and baby) is because I’m sure it never even crossed anyone’s mind to question whether or not Babysis would make good.  She has always been focused and directed and she didn’t make all the mistakes Shaggy and I did.  She never got caught hiding under a van in a cemetery drunk or hit a utility wire with that same van, taking out power to half our town of 5,000 people (I’ll let you try to figure out which of those stories apply to which of her older siblings).  Shaggy, on the other hand, listed his aspiration for senior awards night as, “To become a mercenary.”  People didn’t always know what to make of him.

As a teacher, I have kids who don’t always know what to make of themselves.  Maybe they have an older sibling to try to live up to, or parents with unrealistic expectations.  I hope one day they can look back with hindsight’s 20/20 vision, and everything makes sense.  But until then, I would tell them:

Be who you are.  Make it work for you. 

That, at the end of the day, is the most important of all the things I’ve learned from my brother.  Although the protein value of grubs is right up there.

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