Poor Me and the Terrible…..day

Grandson buckled up in the backseat. Backpack on floor.

Carpool line is moving onto the main road, having been given permission by the rapid-fire, gloved hands of the traffic controller.

Grandson seems a little sad.

First thing popping right out of my mouth, “How was school today?”

Thus begins the journey home.

“How was your day?” the unconscious greeting from my mother absolutely every time I walked through the door after a hellacious day at school.

“Fine.” the standard reply which meant, I don’t want to talk about it.

If she weaseled it out of me, my response was neither acknowledged nor given the sympathy it deserved, but no big deal. Does anyone really want to know how bad my day was? I certainly don’t want to hear about yours.

I know you’re asking, so how bad was it? Because you won’t get it, I’m not going to tell you. I’ll communicate by turning on the pout. The pout that inevitably leads to the all too familiar chorus of “poor me,” which taunts my minds ear like a “nanny, nanny boo boo.” I’ll probably hear the ghost of my father saying, “everybody’s out of step but Gwen,” and of course, the family favorite, “why don’t you go outside and eat worms?” (whatever the heck that means)

I suddenly realize why my own children received numerous doses of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day during our nightly bedtime rituals. Nobody says it better than that disgruntled little guy in his train pajamas, followed up by the wisest response of all time: “Some days are like that.”

“Fine,” grandson says.

“I ordered a fried egg for breakfast today and the white part had clear specks in it, and I hate it when the white part has clear specks in it,” I say.

“Mom made me wear my jacket today and it wasn’t even cold,” grandson.

“I went to get gas today and I left my wallet on the kitchen counter and I had to drive all the way back home to get it,” me.

“No one picked me to play on their team at recess,” grandson.

“I only got 12 hits on my blog today,” me.

“Well, I bet you get more tomorrow,” grandson.

“Let’s go get ice-cream,” me.

The Story-teller

Art class, first grade. She is given an assortment of various colored wads of play-dough. The assignment, to make fruit for a basket.  Enthusiastically, she grabs the yellow lump and starts rolling the squishy damp clay back and forth in her happy little hands, watching it transform into a snake-like rope. The teacher, (term used loosely  here), is giving instructions which the exuberant girl chooses to tune out, being fully absorbed in crafting the worlds most beautiful banana.

The teacher fumes across the room, hovers over the puzzled child, yanks the fruit from its creator and holds it up for all to see, saying something about not paying attention and how this is EXACTLY WHAT NOT TO DO.  Blatant condemnation vanishes the dream of a little girl who believed for a brief moment that she was an artist.

I dreaded art lessons from that day forward but found creative release in music class. Music was my magic carpet and I rode to places of indescribable emotion and often landed to peruse its mysterious terrain.

The classroom, a few years later.  A visitor, a story-teller came to bequeath her gift.   She told us of a beautiful, clever woman, Scheherazade, who found a way to save herself from the henchman’s blade.   Scheherazade knew that the Persian king quickly tired of women sent to his chambers, and had them beheaded the morning after, so she came up with a remarkable plan.  She spun an irresistible tale of sailors and battles, monsters and genies, ending each evening when the drama reached its climactic peak.  The king kept her alive just to hear the next chapter of her narrative which continued for 1001 nights.  By then he had fallen in love with her and made her his queen (oh the power of a good story).

Then our enchanted visitor put a record on the player, a symphonic suite by Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov.  His musical interpretation of the 1001 nights (or Arabian nights) swirled in the air and transformed our classroom.  She handed out blank sheets of paper, markers and said “go”.  She granted permission for the unleashing of boundless imagination and her magical spell erased the former curse of the dreadful art teacher.

What did I think?  Where did I go.?  What did I draw?  Well, to be continued, of course.

Wander in Wonder

Has there ever been an equal to M. Sasek for planting the seeds of wander lust in children?   Yesterday I opened my copy of This is London, the book my mother read to me in order to broaden my understanding of the world.  I flipped through whimsy, words and illustration to recapture the city I had first visited as a child.  London, a magnificent city that calls a line a queue, serves tea at four; is home to Her Majesty the Queen, a clock called Big Ben and the Meridian Zero.

This magnificent collection also includes the cities of Paris, Rome, New York,  Venice, and others.  Due to my privileged childhood, I was fortunate to vacation in many of the places which Sasek had seduced me into visiting.  I was always anxious and excited to discover the sights that I had read about for myself.

The pages are yellowing and the jacket is held together by bits of scotch tape and some of the facts are a bit outdated (after all it was published in 1959) but it still strikes a familiar romantic chord.   I lovingly replace my travel guide under the coffee table and fess up to that part of me that insists on truth.

Okay, so I bought the book on e-bay and I never travelled outside of the United States until long after I had children of my own.  But the beauty of those fantasy-laced travel books allow me to be the child heroine and live that life of wander.

http://www.miroslavsasek.com/ Read all about it

By the way:  looking for This is Paris – original printing – any leads out there?