The Day I Admitted Defeat

This entry was posted on Sep 03 2010

It’s frustrating as a parent to watch your child struggle. To look in their eyes and know in your heart he or she’s trying their very best, but it’s simply not in the cards. Some kids are born into certain disadvantages and it’s something you have to help them overcome. It’s an unpleasant situation, but it’s definitely worse when the victim of circumstance is your twenty three year old best friend.

My pal, Frank,  borders severely on the brink of illiteracy…and unfortunately, the American education system has only come so far. If you attempted to read his last article you might find amidst the grammatical errors, misspellings, and sentence fragments, that there was a boy simply trying to be heard. It was a cry for help. I’ve spent the last ten years of our friendship trying to correct this deficiency. The second time the Sylvan Learning Center expelled him was the most trying on his confidence. I spoke to the principal in private and asked him if there was anything my little slugger could do differently. “Joe”, he said…”Having Frank here has really taken a toll on our staff’s conviction and faith. I’m afraid there’s nothing more we can do.” He then gave me a brochure for this beautiful farm in New Hampshire where I could send him to live. Where he’d never again have to worry about punctuation or metaphors. He could just run free in a grassy field and have the time of his life! It sounded like a dream come true. Frank could live a normal existence as a farm boy, where he wouldn’t be under the constant scrutiny of the intelligent. Just the thought of him playing in the mud and his own defecation brought a smile to my face. Alas, I couldn’t exile my bumbling idiot! I love that little nincompoop. Besides…my court ordered twelve year community service for that DUI in 2000 isn’t up yet. Twelve years catering to Frank or a sixty day prison sentence… my only regret.

I just want a normal life!

He was really down in the dumps one day after he misread a sign he thought said “free eminems”. “Why would people even want an enema, anyway?!”, he yelled at me with tears streaming down his cheeks as he sat on his rubber donut. So, I bought him a present. He was so excited as he spent the next hour and a half trying to unwrap it. It was a children’s book about a lovable donkey that’s trying to get up a mountain, but never quite makes it. He opened the book and stared it. A defeated look came over his face as he threw the book across the room. “I can’t do it! I can’t read that book!” I tried to explain to him that it was a picture book and had no words in it at all. I doubled checked…not even a dedication! I even used white out to cover up the title and author’s name! I knew how upset he gets! Frank would have nothing of it. “And my eyes are stupid, too! The pictures are all messed up!”, Frank screamed. “It’s a pop-up book, Franky!” It was that moment Frank threw up on himself. I raced him over to the sink to clean him up. “Water, Frank! Wa-ter.” His face was bright red. “Wah wah?”, he asked.

I think the most disturbing thing though are his delusions of grandeur. I’ve always tried to motivate him so he would try harder to succeed, even when (most of the time) there was nothing to congratulate him for. And now he has this idea in his head that he’s somehow significant or has accomplished great feats. Poor deluded soul. Someone once asked me while in line at the supermarket if I needed someone to “take care of” my problem. I glanced over to Frank who was trying to escape from his stroller and grab some candy off the shelf. I asked the mysterious man how much it would cost. He handed me a revolver and said “the first one’s on the house”. I felt the weight of the gun in my hand for several seconds, thinking about how much easier life would be for me (even though I’d have to return the handicap sticker for parking). Yet again, I declined the chance to rid myself of this burden. Silently, I hoped that Frank would never lose his cool and rip the face off one of my friends in a shrieking fit of rage like those chimps people keep as pets.

Does Frank beat me? Yes, that part was true, but he has to. He projects his life’s frustrations on me. My little Fantasia hits me to feel something. Does it hurt? Sometimes…he has that oafish retard strength, but I’ve learned to accept it. If it makes him happy, right? And I’m always left wondering to myself, was there something more I could have done? And no, there wasn’t. The world has never seen illiteracy this extreme. He’s my little Rob Schneider (from Big Daddy, remember?). So, please, if you’re going to judge Frank…please, I beg of you…make it on his appearance and general personality, not his inability to read or write. There’s just so much more to work with, ya know?

How many illiterates does it take to destroy the education system?

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