School of Talk

School of Talk
Photograph by Jeff Wilson

Two years, four months, and 26 days ago, I had a very different view of the world from the one I have as I sit down to write this letter. That was the last day that I wasn’t a parent. March 6, 2007. The next day my son was born, and like billions of men before me, I was plunged into the bracing waters of fatherhood. Bit by bit, sleepless night by sleepless night, everything changed. I became adept at skills I never knew existed (umbilical cord cleaning? Diaper rash diagnosing? I’m a pro). I mastered various strap-on carriers and slings. I learned to orient my thoughts about the future around this ten-, and then fifteen-, and then twenty-pound boy.

I also became interested in schools. Very interested. On weekends I walked around the elementary schools in my neighborhood with my son, peering in the windows and wondering what it would be like for him to be a student in those classrooms. Was he going to learn what he needed to? Before, it had never occurred to me to set foot on these campuses, but suddenly they seemed like the most important places in town.

Of course, they had always been the most important places in town, whether or not I’d been smart

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