The Star-News


Sons created their own path to achievement

Sat, Jun 21 2014 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski

Fathers' Day was last weekend. I told my two sons the same message I have always given them: “Don’t get me anything. Fathers’ Day is a bunch of baloney (not my exact words) thought up by the greeting card industry and merchants.” I will invite them over for some ribs and chicken, or maybe a smoked Tri-tip with all the fixins,’ but bring no gifts.

In years past, if they insisted on getting me something I would tell one to go to a smoke shop and buy me a really good cigar. I would tell the other boy to get me a six-pack of craft beer, on the heavy side.
I warn them never to forget Mothers’ Day. My wife doesn’t share my sentiments on Fathers’ and Mothers’ days so we acquiesce to her wishes. I urge them to use the purchasing method their dad uses: gift cards.

On Fathers’ Day I concentrate on how proud I am of our sons. I know any family can have problems no matter how the children are raised. I don’t know what the formula is for having law-abiding, respectful, thoughtful children. I have seen families with multiple children, some of whom turned out fine and some who didn’t, even though they were raised in a stable, loving home and treated alike. I can’t explain the difference. It’s probably luck.

My older son, 37, is an agricultural inspector for the county. I wondered if he would ever get out of high school. He is intelligent, but was a dreamer. He never completed his homework because it was boring and he already knew the stuff. Why do busy work to please some teacher? His test grades were way up there and his SAT scores were enviable.

He got through high school and community college without taking a note, only listening to the lectures. It was all he needed until he got to Humboldt State with the Big Boys. He flunked out after one semester. He was too ashamed to come home so he stayed in Arcata working in construction for the biggest impatient jerk of a foreman one could imagine.

When he was reinstated in school he hung his tool belt above his computer. If he started to daydream during an assignment, he would look up at the belt and get back to business. He graduated easily. He is also a semi-expert in birds and bugs, bicycling, hunting, vegetable gardening, and landscaping. He just graduated from the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Academy where he can put his mountain man skills to good use.

The younger son, 34, presented his own challenges. He completed his homework every day in record time—except it was usually wrong. He somehow got through school. He played baseball quite well and became an Eagle Scout. He also worked as a lifeguard. After a few years on an ambulance as an emergency medical technician he enrolled in Southwestern’s paramedic program. During a role playing exercise he made a mistake and was let go from the academy by a dork instructor.

He enrolled in a different paramedic academy and passed fine, along with passing his national board exams. He now teaches at two different paramedic academies, along with being a paramedic firefighter at a north county fire district. So much for Southwestern College and their “take their money, flunk ‘em out” program.

One of the highlights of my life was a road trip we took to Payson, Az to visit my brother in January. I spent several days with our sons and found them still to be fun, funny, and compatible. Their relationship is something that money can’t buy. So, Fathers’ Day was, and will always be, “Sons’ Day” for me.


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