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October 27, 2010

Home Lives

Cupped HandsWHILE OUT WALKING WITH MY TODDLER, I got a short email from Steven Gill: "Aaargh!" He explained, "That is what my head screams most of my time at home. The oldest two girls will not stop arguing. My youngest daughter and my son will not stop beating the hell out of each other. My house is always a mess, the washing pile never seems to get smaller." And he can never find where he put his coffee cup. I have the many of the same challenges.

Through a set of Media Writing assignments, I know that life as a creative media student falls somewhere on the scale of "bliss" and "hectic". Steven "would gladly work on a fifteen page document on campus than at home," but there are work pressures all around the gaff and if you don't deal with those as a priority, you will pay. Who doesn't have hectic home life challenges? And when you ask a few follow-up questions, would those with screaming kids really object to having them? Not the people I know.

Over the years, I know that family life inspires campus life. At home, some spouses point out that when their other halves go strolling to the creative multimedia studio sessions, it's really a lot less stressful than keeping everything orderly at home. Steven's story gives me a deeper insight to key motivations.

"Maybe but I wouldn’t put myself under all this pressure and often stress for just me. It is for my family. I tell those who ask that I am trying to consider college for all four kids, and I cannot do that on the dole. This adventure is all about them. My kids are my driving force.

"My kids are all great kids. We have gone through so much together. They all have different personalities, needs and ways of expressing themselves. No wonder home is so chaotic. My oldest is the thinker, the future nerd of the family. My second is the cute one, the trickster, the spontaneous liar. My third, she is in the autistic spectrum, but she is a problem solving mini genius. Her condition affects her communication abilities and not her motor functions. My last, my son, is the most melancholy of them all, but when he isn’t he is boyish, loud and a right trouble maker. But they are all smart kids. There my dream, my reality and my anchor."

Steven is a late arrival in a third level course that will suck his energy for the next four years. He has embarked on a major time investment. "My oldest is ten years old, leaving only eight years till she is ready for third level," Steven writes. "It isn’t long to get a career up and running and enough savings to give them the best opportunities I can." Getting a third level qualification will boost Steven's earning power. He's betting on that.

I've wondered why Steven (and other mature students) didn't get a third level qualification while they were younger. In Steven's case, he was only eighteen when he first began looking at University. "I was going to do a Degree in Architecture in Plymouth in the south of England. I was stupid enough to get overcome with work and quit the course after three months. I have regretted that decision ever since. In 1999 I retried and got accepted on a placement in a Maths degree at the University of East Anglia. I had to give up my placement on this course before it began as I had become a father. I never regretted that decision. My priorities had changed and I was to be a DAD. I never had another opportunity till now. Life has a way of bringing you to the same point again and this time I have every reason to see it through to the end."

From his CV, I can see that Steven has been out of work for about three years. "I was a block layer who got injured and recovered into a world where the building trade was almost none existent," he explains. "I was a self-employed block layer. Unqualified."

There is little left in the block laying business as Ireland enters a deep recession.

I'm looking forward to following Steven's adventures at home, in Taekwondo, Civil Defence and on campus. I expect readers will hear and see some of those adventures on both Inside View from Ireland and Underway in Ireland.

View Steven and the family on YouTube.


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