Archives for posts with tag: childhood

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
–E. E. Cummings

I don’t feel complete unless there is laughter and smiles in my day. Even on days when I’m feeling cranky, am unreasonable, and shout because my moods have taken the best from me, I can count on laughter setting me right.

A few days ago I wandered into a stationery store. I didn’t wander aimless, though. I had a simple mission to buy a single postcard for hubby. I had told him that I had seen it when I was searching for other postcards. I described it to him and he said why didn’t you get it for me? I shrugged my shoulders and told him that I wasn’t sure if he’d actually want it. Now he has it.

Ever since childhood I’ve adored stationery stores. I remember when my mother would take me for tea and a sweet pastry after ice skating practice or one of her doctor’s appointments. After seeking her permission, I would wander over to the stationary store just across the way. I would look through all the stickers, turning the stands in search of the perfect set. I collected them. I had a book full of wonderful stickers of all kinds: stickers that sparkled and glittered; puffy stickers; hearts, bears, flowers–all sorts. I don’t remember her ever going into the store with me. I would run back and ask her if I could buy some stickers. She didn’t give in right away. She might take a sip of her coffee, ask me if I really needed them, and she would end up pulling out a few dollars from her purse and hand it to me. I ran back as quick as I could and I would return giggly–happy to have new stickers.

There were other stationery stores too. It wasn’t always stickers. Sometimes it was miniature calendars, pretty paper, pens. But always, she stayed outside in the car unless we were at that one breakfast shop where she could wait inside. She was dying, and as the cancer progressed, she was in pain more often; but as a little girl these realities register in the mind differently.

I realize, too, that my mother didn’t like being home, even if no one else was there. She preferred being out and about. As the cancer took its toll on her, these were some of the ways that we were able to spend time together, knowing that her life was drawing to a close. So, I see now that she not only needed me as her little rock, but that she also relished the last moments that we would share–and those moments I remember with the core of my being, with joy, and a hint of sadness. But what would life be without both?

She was serious and angry a good part of her later life, but right now in this moment, I can remember…I hear her laughter and see her smile, and it fills my soul with blue skies, sunshine, and the happy chatter of birds.

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“I wanna to be a toad so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day.”
–First grader

Because of scheduling changes I have been switched from reading with a few second graders to now first graders. Walking into the first grade room was utter chaos. Every inch of wall was covered in letters, numbers, pictures. There were clusters of children working on different things. Loud noise was booming out of the tape recorder where a group of students was listening to a book on tape. The room was abuzz of chattering children all seeming to be speaking in one long chain of vibration. Another table of students where each student was cracking an egg into a bowl. My senses were overwhelmed. And on top of it all, it was pajama day, so I think this may have added to the frenzy.

The teacher was kind and calm. She asked how I’d like to be referred to, since I had given my first name to her when she asked. “Ms. Rebbecca is fine,” I said. She introduced me to the first student I would sit with. “S, this is Ms. Rebbecca. She is going to listen to you read. Here take your books with you. See you in a little bit.”

With the second graders, I had selected books for the students to choose from. With the first graders, the teachers send them with their packet of books and word lists for review. This works out well. I may occasionally bring along a book that may be of interest. I’ll have to see where the rhythm falls, how it unfolds.

The boy student was quite a character. He made me laugh and was not shy about talking. When I asked him which book he wanted to read first, he said for me to pick it. He chose the next book. It was so nice to see him pull the book from his packet, his eyes widening, and say “this is one of my favorites, I love this book,” and he read it to me. Since he knew this one well, and it was a rhyming story, he read it with ease.

It was time for me to take him back to class. As we were getting ready to leave, still full of energy in his manner of speaking and twisting his body, he said,

“I don’t like school.”

“Why don’t you like school?”

“Because it’s a lot of work. You’re an adult. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Well, I go to work after this.”

“Work–adults just move things around.” He made a motion of moving papers around on a desk. “That’s not work. School’s a lot of work. I wanna be an adult so I don’t have to work so hard.”

“Well, you’ll be an adult one day.”

“I wanna be a toad, so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day!”

“Ah, you want to be a toad…”

The recess bell rang as his last thought trailed off. We exited the library as students dribbled out to the hallways. We approached the door to his classroom–back to his world of work.

As I took a short walk during recess before returning to sit with the last student of the morning, I couldn’t stop smiling at the utter beauty and innocence of childhood and catching glimmers of my own elementary school memories, albeit quite dusty.

It feels good to be awake early this morning. The past few weeks I’ve wanted to continue sleeping; and I have, waking up later than usual.

Saturday has arrived bringing with it a calm and sense of relief.

I wanted to share a photo that I took about a month ago. It’s one of those faces I was talking about yesterday. A nearby library that I enjoy visiting has a drive thru book return. I’ve gone through this book return countless times. On this day, a month back, I must have been in a slower mode, so that I could step back, see the book return from a different vantage point. I usually have to get out of my car because it’s a long stretch to push the buttons and place the books on the belt that pulls the books through to their destination with other books, waiting for re-shelving. As I began getting out of the car, I saw a face looking back at me. I smiled, then I laughed. Finally, I had to take a photo.

One of the beauties in life is that simple moments like this can bring such unexpected joy.

As I look at the photo this morning, I realize that the face is a familiar one. One of my father’s–my real father–used to build me beautiful creations out of wood. A cabinet maker by trade, he was a true craftsman and artist. Looking at this face, I remember a family of wooden dolls that he made for me. They were beautiful wooden blocks that he had cut, putting together a family, all with smiling faces, moveable arms and legs, and a rich coating of wood stain that brought out the beauty in the wood–a human family that brought me comfort and joy.

Whenever I smell sawdust or freshly cut wood, I think of him in his wood shop, creating.

I wish I still had those dolls. Even though they are gone, and he is gone, I remember the love that he put forth in all the creations that he built for me. I was able to keep and take one item with me, and it rests in my closet where I can see it. It’s a small wooden treasure chest that my father built for me, where I store my special treasures.

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The past few mornings, I have delighted in the birdsong that I hear stream in through the slim opening of the bedroom window. It is music to my ears and spurs my body to smile all over.

Yesterday, I allowed myself one small indulgence. I was in the stationary store to see if they had any interesting postcards. As I have been in search of postcards lately, I am reminded of how scarce they actually are to come by, and when they are there to be found, they are often of the touristy type. I was pleasantly surprised to see several lovely and some wonderfully strange postcards.

But the postcards were not my one small indulgence, though I did end up buying three and they added to my purchase.

While I was browsing, my eyes were caught by a brown bag splashed with three dollops of color: pink and red. I circled around the small table and saw that what I was looking at were “grab bags” and the red and pink dollops were hearts. I was immediately transported to a time in my childhood when my mother would buy me grab bags from the Hello Kitty store. She had a friend that worked in one of the stores and she would ask her to make mine extra special. I looked forward to receiving the lovely bags filled with a variety of Hello Kitty trinkets, pens, lip gloss, and other goodies.

So when I saw this simple grab bag knowing it would contain a pad of paper, a pen, and stickers, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve always enjoyed the surprise of opening up the bag; and even though I knew generally what would be inside, that didn’t stop me and it didn’t take away the feeling of allowing myself or rather still having that childlike wonder deep inside of me. I had to chuckle to myself as I read the sign near the bags that said, “good for ages 5 – 8.” I suppose they could add: “and the young at heart.”

Right this moment, if I could change something about myself, it would be to do more and worry, doubt, and over think less. It seems that with certain choices, I don’t allow myself to go freely, instead I begin putting up mental road blocks, questioning my decision that in the moment I decided, felt right–or maybe I don’t reach the finality of decision because I don’t allow myself to get there mentally.

I told myself after I finished my short story writing class this fall: no more community college courses for fun or interest. Five months is too long, I said. Plus, I understand that community colleges are going to be stricter about people like me without a clear direction. I also noticed that since I’ve taken courses at the B.A. level, sometimes certain community college courses don’t feel meaty enough. I tell myself: just read about it. You don’t need to take the class, do you? Why do you keep enrolling and not only that–why do you keep questioning your decision.

I enrolled in a course. I was enrolled for several weeks, but hadn’t paid, just in case I changed my mind. The class begins in mid-January. I’ve thought about it for days, asking: are you sure this is what you want? I think so. If I take money out of the equation. The answer is yes, absolutely. I feel guilty because the credit card that I’m trying to pay off, keeps jumping up. I rationalize, saying, well, if you get a small tax refund, put that towards the balance of your credit card.

Right now I have mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement.

Recently I finished a book called Kindergarten: A Teacher, Her Students, and a Year of Learning by Julie Diamond. I loved the book. This was the closest that I’ve come to revisiting Kindergarten and the book really made me want to be a part of this setting in some way.

And a month ago when I stepped onto the elementary school steps, walking past a classroom, I peeked in, and as I passed, I saw small children, crayons at their desk, pictures they had drawn on the windows, and I realized by the size of the children that this must have been a kindergarten class. As I walked on toward the classroom where I would meet Mrs. L to learn more about tutoring, the recess bell rang, and all the children poured out to the black top to play and let out their bundled up energy. I loved the feeling of being there. I felt transported to a time of play and learning and I felt as though I was meant to be there.

When I used to ride my bike to work, I would pass an elementary school and I always thought to myself, I would really like to work there. I would like to work at a local elementary school. But this wasn’t possible. For one, schools have severe budget cuts. And two, I don’t have the proper credentials, nor the means to complete certain steps I never finished.

As nice as it would be to get paid to be a teacher’s assistant in a Kindergarten or first grade class, I don’t know that this is possible. Let me take that back. Of course it’s possible. I just don’t know if a) it’s something I truly want to do because I’ve never done it before and b) I don’t know if it will open up.

With that being said, I am going to reframe the negative and concentrate on the positive–concentrate on the possible.

The other motivating factor is that I enjoy playing with my significant other’s God son who is three. When we go over to visit, he says to me, “let’s go play” and we go play and I enjoy entering his world. Even though we don’t see him too often, I enjoy hearing about his new discoveries from his mother, and also of watching him and engaging in his play and pretend world.

And so if ever I’m in a position where an assistant teaching position may manifest in the future, from doing a little research, I know I will at least need to have a certain amount of Early Childhood Education (ECE) units. The funny thing is I’ve always had a fascination with education and as a child I adored the educational programs: Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, The Polkadot Door, Reading Rainbow. I wasn’t that interested in Sesame Street for some reason. But I’ve never pursued this avenue.

Soon I will be taking a baby step and I will take my first ECE course: Principles and Practices of Early Childhood Education. This will at least give me an opportunity to be in a structured classroom setting to explore whether this is a path that I would like to pursue and hopefully answer any questions and doubts that I may have. At the very least, I will have an opportunity to enter this period of life and possibly remember more of my own early experiences. It seems such a wonderful period filled with growth, learning, and wonder, yet so much of it goes forgotten. Maybe I’ll also learn to accept this truth: that sometimes all of that magic comes and goes, but is always there if we remember.

I love children’s books and lately amongst the various other reading that I am nibbling away at, I am also weaving in several children’s picture books and books about children’s books.

One of the books I am currently reading is Everything I Need to Know I Learned from A Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life edited by Anita Silvey. This is a wonderful collection of interviews turned into brief essays of leaders from various fields, accompanied by a photo of the chosen book, a summary, and an excerpt. I recognize some of the books from my childhood and jump for joy inside at having my memory jogged and remembering more books. And there are several books that I have not heard of before or have not read, which makes it like an adventure—in search for more worlds that I may have missed, that I can still return to.

This is an incredibly inspiring book that demonstrates the profound affect that books have on our young minds and how books continue to inspire and encourage us to pave our paths in life.

Here is a fantastic video published by the Library of Congress of Anita Silvey discussing her book. It provides additional insights and images of each of the chosen leaders she interviewed for her book

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNvKfZjDOV8

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Childhood Garden
by Rebbecca Hill (Rebb)

I water the wildflowers that reside within my soul,
tend to those wild abundant gardens.

Flowers bloom,
petals dance and spring about,

for the spirit of childhood—
that magic palace of wonder and curiosity
will live on—it must.