It’s Not All Pizza and Fairy Tales

The title is a shot John Lennon took at Paul McCartney, slamming him for being so optimistic. Sometimes I think these blog posts give the impression that we’ve gone through the wars and come out the other side. Yes, it’s true that the Katz family is at a very good point with Nate now a successful college student, but that doesn’t mean our struggles are past.

Lately, as I see Nate’s post-education life coming into focus, my concern for his future is growing. Will he work? Can he work? I’ve begun to inquire about possible work programs and internships and that’s as far as I need to go right now. It’s important at this point to be somewhat aware of the world past school. It’s a similar process to how I approached college for Nate. It wasn’t a big issue when he started high school, but it was crucial to know what was available and likely for him, so when he was a senior I wasn’t scrambling for information. Still, being aware of the different avenues he may pursue doesn’t give me a calm feeling.

And, ultimately, what is it all worth? It’s easy to confuse Nate’s well-being with ours, our parental hopes for him made into his own desires. On the whole, Nate is pretty passive about life changing events like college and work. Conversations usually go like this:

“Hey Nate,” I’ll say with enthusiasm. “What do you think about getting a job after you graduate from Cobleskill?”

“Uh, that won’t be good,” he answers. But we never take Nate’s initial “no” for a final answer. Otherwise, we’d never move forward. I continue.

“Nate, if you had a job you’d get money to buy ink and DVDs and all the other things you like.”

“Uh, OK!” He’s on board.

Still, it feels ridiculously pointless at times, like yesterday. Nate walked into the kitchen, without warning, and began to read his Alzheimer’s Disease presentation for Biology. He is working with a partner on a class project. They divided the roles by strength, so Nate prepared the Power Point slides and is reading aloud.

When he was done with his run through, I asked him if he knew what Alzheimer’s was. He didn’t. He’d just read a paper about it and knew nothing of what he read. It’s times like these that I doubt this college experiment the most. Nate goes through the motions, gets prompted to do good work and pushed to study hard to get passably good grades. Does he care? Not at all.

But, other than a general sense that, as parents, we should be helping him do the best he can, why do we do it? Sometimes I’m not that sure.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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