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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks


Updated: Feb 6

This week was a real mixed bag.

I ran some errands Saturday, including getting more food for the rats (when will those guys learn how to cook?). I fed the kids lunch at home and Kira got ready to take the kids sledding at the sand dunes with the neighbors in the bitter cold. Carver was still a bit under the weather, and so he stayed home with me. I tried to warm up the house by baking cookies. Kira brought home the kids. They had a good time, but they had reports of wipeouts and some minor injuries.

As they got cleaned up from the sand and snow, we worked on dinner and bathing everyone. It was a typical night after that.

Sunday started out like any other, and then while the others were at church I received an email from my boss. That's a little strange for a weekend, but this one was especially weird. She told me that she had learned a former student had posted some threats online, and I was specifically named in some of them. She wanted me to know and also informed campus security. Even though the student had graduated in 2017, I recognized his name immediately. I remembered that he had acted very strangely in classes, and his behavior got even weirder over time - he would come to class about 15 minutes late every time, and that's even when he had two classes in a row with me, so he would apparently disappear in between classes for 30 minutes. In class, he would often be spaced out, seeming to not even be present with the rest of us. Often, it looked like he was chuckling internally about something he was thinking about. He was never disruptive or anything, but just strange.

Anyway, I knew that he had been kicked off of campus his last semester, and prohibited from returning, but nobody ever told me why. I just assumed it had something to do with his declines in his mental health. What's especially weird is that a semester later, he asked if he could meet me to get a photo with me. That is, he had graduated still, and then an entire semester went by, and then he reached out to me to ask about the photo. I asked campus security at the time if that was alright, and they said as long as he was not on campus, I could decide. We ended up not meeting up and I did not hear from him again. I never thought that he disliked me, and I don't recall ever having any kind of confrontation with him or disagreement with him, so it is very strange that his online comments were directed at me, and that he clearly harbors some deep resentment toward me. It must just be a mental health problem.

In any case, I read his comments and immediately retrieved my concealed carry weapon to just have on me as much as I can. I do not think he would actually try to find me and harm me, but one can never be too careful. I told the others when they were home from church, and I made a police report just to have my bases covered. Campus security cannot do much beyond just extending his ban from campus, so I'm just doing a better job of keeping all the doors locked and remaining vigilant between the train and campus each day. I really do not think he will try to do anything, but we hope that he'll get some help.

The department chair also reached out about this and told me that he has gone through some similar things before, and so that helped me to feel like I'm not the first person to have this happen.

Anyway, that really put a strange tone on the rest of the week.

Monday was pretty normal except that I was up for part of the night dealing with a runny nose, apparently having caught what's going around. I was groggy most of the day, even after Kira let me miss breakfast. I saw the boys off and then collapsed in the recliner for a while. Kira had work, and I did my own job at home. It was a typical afternoon once the boys were home, except that Jesse went to play in the freezing cold with a friend. Kira was there for bedtime and Hannah joined for some TV.

Tuesday was a typical day, but I was still feeling crummy with the mild cold symptoms, and so the day was hard. I caught an earlier train home, and there was no sign of any vengeful student.

One of these nights, Jesse was kind of bored. I offered him some ideas for what he could do, and he decided that he just wanted to chat. I asked what he wanted to chat about, and he didn't know, so he told me to just ask him questions. He seems to enjoy sharing his thoughts about lots of things, almost like he is a guest on a podcast.

Jesse's Calendar Gift He Gave to Kira for Christmas

Kira let me doze a little longer on Wednesday morning, and then I saw the boys off, did some grading, and joined faculty meeting. The afternoon was full of bathing boys, baking brownies, and supervising homework. Kira had volunteered to help with the elementary school talent show, and so she took Jesse for the dress rehearsal that night. I picked him up after his performance so that he could still bathe and get to bed at a decent hour while Kira stayed to help out. As Merritt was getting ready for bed, he said to me, "Dad, tomorrow is Groundhog's Day, my favorite day of the year!" I thought that was an odd thing to say, but he did not really explain any more. I imagine he just meant that it is exciting because it means the weather will warm back up soon (I think Merritt especially dislikes the cold).

I was up about 10 minutes before my alarm on Thursday morning, even though my cold symptoms were much better. At least that meant I could eat a bigger breakfast. Jesse dressed up like a cowboy because his school was having a dress up day.

I had a good day in the city, with more energy than usual, probably fueled by the bigger breakfast and the mortal danger I was in by even approaching campus. I stayed later to finish some grading. Kira said that Merritt did awesome on staying motivated for his homework, and meals were already underway as I arrived home. Near bedtime, Merritt was very sad that he would not get to use the TV the next morning, because it would be Carver's turn. I talked it over with him and we decided that I could move the Wii to the computer room so that he could play that while Carver was on the Switch. We have to be on video games at all times, you understand. A little voice inside of me said that he would not even use the Wii the next morning, but I moved it anyway. Sure enough, the next morning Carver was still asleep and so Merritt got to use the TV after all.

It turned out that Carver was feeling worse. He had been up later with a headache, and so when I found him asleep the next morning, I figured he needed it. I just let him stay in bed. Kira also dozed longer, and Avey had texted us at 4:30 a.m. or so that she was not feeling well. I got the two younger boys on the bus. Carver stayed home, and Avey went to school late. It was below zero out there, so I was sure to wrap up the younger two nice and tight. Hannah and I had arranged to play racquetball that morning, so we met there and could feel just how out of practice we were. I did work at home and Kira left for a blood draw and for some grocery shopping. She made it home just before the bus.

The talent show was that evening, and so she took Jesse and dropped Avey off to hang with friends on her way. I fed the others at home, then we picked up Avey and Hannah on the way to the school. Jesse did a great job, and everything seemed to go according to his plan. He got a lot of good laughs, and he has a huge fan club among the other participants.

Merritt had a good time seeing some of his classmates and kids he knows. He submitted a video of some trampoline tricks, because they had planned to play videos of kids who couldn't actually do their talent on the stage. But then we learned that the projector had been damaged and they couldn't play videos. Kira talked it over with him and he did not want to change up his act to perform live.

It was a good time, and then we gathered up our stuff and I took the slide and mini-trampoline home in the truck while the others went for ice cream.

We got the kids to bed late, and then watched some TV ourselves. Hannah stayed home.

Kira and I both slept in this morning, and then I got up to make pancakes for breakfast. Hannah even joined us. We've got a relatively low-key day planned. It is supposed to get a little warmer, so we expect the snow to all melt. We've got some light shopping planned.

Let's hope we can survive (literally) another week!

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