When I look back at my childhood, I hardly ever think about the fourth grade. My teacher wasn’t particularly memorable. I had no strong feelings about her either way. Her classroom had the only piano outside of the music room and she was obsessed with teaching us how to speak French. I learned to sing a lot of songs in French that year. I don’t remember any of them now, but speaking (and singing) in French is the first of only five things I recall from that school year.
The second thing I remember is the time I lost three teeth in one afternoon. That meant three trips to the drinking fountain and three envelopes for tooth storage. It seemed important at the time, and it probably earned me seventy-five cents to spend on candy. In 1985 I could have bought two candy bars with that cash.
I was runner-up in the district wide spelling bee after spelling “course” instead of “coarse.” That’s right. Runner up.
That’s all I want to say about that.
And I will never ever forget the Mother’s Day program that year. Instead of making the usual three-ring bound cookbook covered with wallpaper scraps, we invited the moms in for a live musical performance. We sang the annoying song, “Parents Are People.” Its melody is seared in my brain for life. Google it if you dare.
But the most memorable event in fourth grade was the official breakup of the friendship between me and my best friend, Angie. Continue reading →
When I was Teghan’s age I was pretty obnoxious. I have the home movies to prove it. I used to make up songs while riding in the car. Actually…. I had just the one. It was called, “Going Down the Road, Yes We Are.” Every line had the same annoying melody, and I made up the words on the spot as I loudly sang a list of things we were passing- followed by “yes we are.”
“Seeing trees and houses, yes we are!” You get the idea.
I did a lot of things I no longer understand. For example, I spent a good percentage of my youngest years wearing a tutu. I liked to pretend I knew ballet, which I didn’t. My friend Billy and I once spent an afternoon seeing how high we could count (it was pretty high). And I was constantly trying to prove I could hold my breath longer than anyone else.
I didn’t always make the best choices. I ate butter straight from the container. And sugar. I thought that if I used a stone to write on the side of our van that it would erase just like a chalkboard. I was wrong about that. I believed that with enough practice I could fly; there were summer days when I spent hours jumping off the porch.
On the playground I used to do daily impressions of Jimmy Swaggart, the TV evangelist. I was also part of a group called The Scream Team, in which a large number of girls went around the playground screaming as a group for no particular reason. There was a bit of competition between me and a girl named Kendal, because we screamed the loudest. Continue reading →
On the first day of school, as I entered the third grade, the teachers were still on strike. I was too young to understand that even though my teacher was brand new she was my actual teacher. I spent the first two weeks of class panicked that she was only a substitute, and that my real teacher would come back after the strike was over.
I liked this teacher a lot. Her name was Mrs. Kenyon. You know what I remember the most about her? She liked The Beatles. In case you think I am exaggerating about my lifelong obsession, I used to write Beatles lyrics on the back of my spelling tests while I was waiting for the rest of the class to finish. Mrs. Kenyon would grade my test and complete the lyrics before handing it back to me.
That made her pretty awesome.
When I look back at all of my teachers, there are very few standouts. Plenty of them meant well. Most of them were good teachers who cared, they just didn’t have any great impact on me. That’s fine. Maybe they impacted someone else.
A couple of them stood out as being terrible. Some teachers clearly hate their jobs, and even their students. I had a science teacher in the seventh grade who hated me. My older sister had been a bit of a troublemaker for him, and he assumed I would be the same. He never even gave me a chance. Continue reading →
I enjoy scary movies. Even if I am spending an evening alone in this big old house, I will still be willing to watch a scary movie. I will regret it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it.
I love a good ghost story. Ever since my slumber party tween years, they have been a favorite. I find the stories of the unknown fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me the ways in which our brains interpret these mysteries; as if we are somehow equipped to understand the very parts of our brain that remains unknown to us. Continue reading →
Some kids have a security blanket. Others have a favorite stuffed animal, doll, or toy. My blanket’s name was Geegee. In the end, Geegee did not resemble a blanket at all, but I liked rubbing the fabric pills between my thumb and index finger. When they fell off, I saved those pieces of my friend in a butter dish.
Of course I did.
One day my mom started making me keep Geegee in the top of my closet, just at night when I slept. She claimed that keeping him close to my face while I slept was bad for me because he was so old. At first I fought back, until I discovered that it was just easier to sneak him back down from the closet after my parents went to bed. This went on for a while, until my lazy nature won out and I just stopped sneaking him down from that closet altogether. Eventually, I forgot about Geegee.
I guess that made me a pretty crappy friend. It also shows just how much our affection for things and people can be a result of our addiction to them. Fill the space with something new, and our brains will make new connections. This is both depressing and encouraging at the same time. But, I do have a good memory of that blanket. Call it human sentimentality.
My daughter is currently obsessed with a box full of torn paper.
Actually, it’s a Songburst Game (the 50’s and 60’s version). It’s just the box lid, filled with a thousand pieces of torn game cards. Some cards are still intact. For now. I am not sure what happened to the little records that were part of the game, they disappeared sometime last week.
She carries the box from room to room. Sometimes she just sits on the stairs with the box and taps on the cards. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes in a group. Sometimes she taps them against her ear. Every few minutes she tears one.