A New Beginning

Posted: June 30, 2017 in General
Tags: , , , ,

If you’re a regular follower to this site, it is no mystery that my posting here has dropped in frequency significantly as the site has aged. Some quick stats for you, if you’re into that sort of thing:

  • inspiredbyrandom is in its fifth year; it started in 2012 and has 95 published blog posts (96 counting this one).
  • In almost 5 years of blogging I’ve gathered 69 followers; these are other bloggers most of whom I don’t know personally. Some of them may be reading right now.
  • Posts on this site have received over 3700 views from around 1800 visitors since its inception.

None of this is earth-shaking if you think about the millions of viewers and subscribers that some YouTube channels have, but when I look back on what I’ve written and how many people have seen my content–it’s humbling to think that on so many occasions my words have meant something to someone else.  So this is the part where you say, “No Jake, this sounds final. You aren’t leaving us, are you?” The answer is a complicated one, so here goes.

Ask my wife…I am not the reminiscent type. What was going on five years ago is a bit of a blur now, but things have changed a lot! At some point in the last five years, my babies have grown into really awesome, really funny, really mature kids…and I get excited about meeting their future selves, going out for a beer with Zak or helping Zoe go car shopping. The future is so bright, and so open, and so inviting.

But getting there, that’s a different story. I know that one day I’ll blink and all the time will have passed. But until then we’ll be in the weeds, every day, fighting through the stomach flu, broken bones, the school year, family vacations, another school year, chores, dirty and then clean rooms…the normal stuff that we all endure every day that makes every day worth enduring. In five years, I’ve seen my kids grow into these high velocity bundles of possibility that will only be limited by their own potential and strive to make their lives the best lives they can have. And sure, they’ll need a little help along the way, but before too long they’ll be in charge of their own destiny, fully controlling (or attempting to control) the outcome as the king or queen of their own little universe.

It’s so exciting and terrifying to be a parent now, or at all. Every generation struggles in parenthood in ways that the next generation will regard as “normal” when they become parents, at which time they will face their own new terrifying realities. The reality that is weighing on me right now–and ultimately the motivation behind this post–is the result of an inspection of our local school district which has the appearance of coming apart at the seams.

The details are irrelevant…blah blah, money, misappropriation, blah blah, school board, debt, blah. What is relevant is the downstream impact of those details–like the reduction of foreign language at the middle school, the removal of certain music classes in the elementary, the unfortunately necessary layoffs of media center specialists, fine arts teachers, support staff–and the inability to find another way. As a parent, that is the stuff that makes you wonder about what is really best for your kids. Because, as a parent, the biggest reason you do what you do – is for them.

And what is a parent to do when the district has clearly shown over the last decade the direction it’s headed? Now mind you, it’s not all the school board, or the staff, or the programming. Sure, it’s definitely about the money, but a lot of that lies within the community’s power to address. And that is where I direct these statements.

Parma, Ohio has a district of approximately 11,000 students, over half of which are on free or reduced lunch. That’s not an attack on some administration or the economy–but on the situations the parents of those students are in. This isn’t personal, but as I stated above–the only reason we do what we do is for our kids…or at least, it should be. I’m not calling anyone a bad parent; every situation, every circumstance is specific and special and entirely unknown to me. But there are no parents of those 11,000 students that shouldn’t have voted to pass May’s levy…or November’s levy…or last May’s levy. There is no excuse for blissful inactivity when that inactivity is taking money out of the pockets of the organization specially charged with educating our children and preparing them to become the better versions of ourselves.

Slightly more than 14,000 votes were cast in the most recent levy renewal…and the only tactic that the district had to employ is to not tell as many people as possible so that no one would go vote against the levy, all the while hoping that the parents and family of active students within the district would sneakily go to the polls and save some jobs, save some programs. And folks–this is not an anecdotal claim–this is straight from a staff person who sits on the levy committee for the district.

When the system is so broken that you have to encourage it to be broken differently in hopes that the outcome won’t be as bad…that’s the time you get yourself a new system.

Or, as a parent, you move on.

So, in the next week, we will be listing our house for sale. From birth to age 24, I lived in 12 different places–that’s an average of one new place every two years–and the slight moving hiatus has been magnificent. This house has been our home for 9 years, and came into our lives when Janine was pregnant with our first child. Both of our children learned to walk, learned to talk, ate their first solid food, came home from their first days of kindergarten, learned to read; at this place we’ve called home. We’ve had virtually zero homeowner nightmare scenarios; we have had a safe, dry, well maintained environment for our family to grow into and make our own. And this blog started, at least in part, because of the path that put us in this house.

When you tell your kids that you’re moving, all the normal emotions that happen are very hard to deal with. A 6-year-old and 8-year-old don’t understand the economic impact of debt on a school district, don’t understand the complexity of property taxes and levy voting (who does, really?), don’t understand how the events of today might impact them down the line. And most of all, they don’t understand what it is that went so wrong with this house that we have to leave, and they are very upset about it. As adults, we know the house had nothing to do with it, but as kids, this isn’t their house: it’s their home, and it goes by no other name.

Someone who has moved a lot throughout childhood tends to lose sight of how upsetting it is to leave your house, let alone your school district! I was fortunate enough to only make one district move before graduating high school, but the transition was a challenge. But what is so wonderfully exciting is not the leaving of this house, but rather the adventure to a new place that will become our new home…it’s much of the same excitement as I see for my kids’ future, bright, and open, and infinite.

We don’t know where we’re going to end up, but we do know that it will be a place we all will want to be once we get there. It’s while we are at that place that Zoe will have her first kiss, Zak will get his driver’s license. Zoe will get ready for prom there. Zak will come home from college on the weekends and do laundry, maybe. It’s the place that our kids will bring their kids on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And all of that possibility will exist in a school district that is better suited for fostering the development of children, providing the options and opportunities that will need to be exercised and pursued by Zak and Zoe. This isn’t meant to sound snobby at all; sure, my kids would be just fine if we stayed in the district. They’d graduate high school for sure. But our concern lies in the lack of options and opportunities. It’s entirely possible that 3rd grade choir is not something my kids will want to pursue, and I’m fine with that; but I know factually they won’t pursue it if it’s not even available. And to choose to stay in that situation when we don’t have to is just crazy.

So, the proverbially chapter in our lives will come to an end, and we’ll get to start an exciting new one in a new place. Someone close to us referred to this decision to move as “possibly game-changing,” and I love that. It’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to be stressful (it already is)…but it is going to be amazing.

(Side note…when moving day comes, those of you who do know me personally will probably hear from me. Watch for texts, or calls, or Facebook messages…this move is going to be bananas!)

And just as this chapter will come to an end for my family, so too will the inspiredbyrandom journey that you’ve all come along on for the last 5 years. The timing is right. I want to thank every one of those 1800 viewers now for taking the time out of your own crazy, hectic lives to spend some time in mine.

After October comes and goes, the inspiredbyrandom.com domain will go back to the pool of available domain names, and this site will live on as a free WordPress account under inspiredbyrandom.wordpress.com.

But, if you are still interested in spending time with me on occasion and you are interested in tech, I invite and encourage you to head over to a tech review blog I started last year; once the craziness of this summer settles down I’ll be migrating to a new web platform, so keep an eye out for that.

Again, thank you for your ongoing support. It has truly been a pleasure to share so much with you over the last 5 years. Please reach out to me directly if you have any questions, or if you want to complain about something, or if you just want to say hi. Whether or not I know you personally, I’d love to hear from you.

And as always, be well and stay tuned.

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