• Richard Scrimger

civics and the real new year


Not much more to say about New York, except that I'll be paying for it for the next couple months. Touring with a flock of teenagers is a twenty-four hour a day cab ride. The meter is always on. We're home now, and everyone's thoughts are on school.

Funny month, September. I have been out of school much longer than I was ever in it, and yet I still feel that the year starts on Labour Day. January 1 may have fireworks, but it's an arbitrary date in the middle of the school year. All things are fresh in September.


Ed came home after the first day and announced that he loved Ccivics. My mouth didn't drop open because I had coffee in it. I swallowed carefully and then let my lower jaw fall. Really? I said. Civics? Really?


I should have been more encouraging. A teen finds his calling in life, that's a big moment. Follow your bliss, says whoever it is. (That's from a self-help book, isn't it? Not Shakespeare or Eliot or someone I should recognize. Say, you know what would be a long list? Self help books I have not read. That list would stretch right down the page. I am not sneering -- heavens, all you have to do is look at the sales figures. But there are a lot of self-help books out there, and I have read exactly none. I should do something about that. I'm clearly missing out on a large slice of popular culture. It's like never watching sit-coms or eating pizza. Sorry, where was I? Follow your bliss. Right. Gee, maybe there's a self-help book about staying on topic.) So, yeah, I should probably have given Ed a big hug of congratulation and started career planning, instead of gaping in disbelief and wondering if the world had started spinning backwards.


It's just that I have never heard of a passion for civics. If I had to list school subjects that might inspire passion, civics would be right at the bottom. It would be below Latin. Below Wood Shop. Below Detention.


But I am a caring dad, and I want to understand my kids. So I asked Ed what he found particularly appealing about Civics. Is it the way you get to see how systems work? I asked. Is it something about the social contract? Or are you just fascinated by government?


His turn to stare. What are you talking about, Dad? All my friends are in that class. There are seven or eight of us, and we all sit together. It's going to be a sweet term.

So you don't care about Civics as a subject.

He had a mouth full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, so his hearty laugh was not a thing of beauty. But I was able to join in. My son's passion is hanging out with his friends, and the world is spinning the usual way.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada