It’s funny how your start to reflect on your personal experiences through the stories your children share with you.
They come home and talk about their daily struggles in grade school, and while seemingly trivial, they are all consuming at this age.
How frustrated they felt when the math teacher did not call on them for the answer, although they “really knew it!”. How angry they were for having a recess taken away because they forgot to bring home a note. How sad they felt when another child called them a name.
Stories we have lived, and know all too well. My boys are now in grades 2 and 4, and while family dynamics today are different, and there is now cool new technology in our classrooms, the crux of what they learn at school…the foundational pieces, have not changed.
And so with my birthday recently passed, I started to reflect (getting older always makes you think!).
For every year of grade school, I indeed learned valuable life lessons that have helped guide me through my career, and personal life.
I share these with you as a point of humour, and reflection that almost all of our experiences serve a purpose to teach us something. Here are my stories.
1- Cutting time. All the kids line up to get a pair of scissors from the teacher’s desk. But I am left-handed, and have my very own pair in a special cup. I am different, and that’s ok.
2- Cannot go to the bathroom until I learn to ask for permission in French. I can learn fast, when I want to.
3- Students are given a carton of milk at recess to drink. I HATE milk, but am forced to drink it. I learn to sneak a small amount of chocolate Quick powder from my house, and pour it in to the spout of my little carton, to make the experience tolerable.
4- My twin sister and I are separated into different classrooms for the first time. Time to stand on my own two feet.
5- Class is structured. We have textbooks, assigned seats, and get to visit the School’s mini bookstore to buy our pencils and erasers. I like this. I work well in a structured environment.
6- I meet a new girl in the school yard during recess. She’s really nice. We become best friends. For 32 years.
7- Only grade that I have a male teacher. He is more demanding than my sweet kindergarten and grade 1 teachers.
8- I do well in math. Math comes easy to me.
9 – I am learning to conjugate verbs in French, but I don’t understand why. This is the first of many things that I am told I need to learn, without understanding why I need to.
10 – The teacher lines us up by height. I am the tallest, at the back of the line (add 2 inches for my unruly frizzy hair!). I am embarrassed that I am taller than the boys in my class. If only the 8 year-old “me” knew that I’d end up marrying a man who is 6’3″, I wouldn’t have been so bothered by this. Retrospection.
11 – Have no memories at all. Can’t even remember my teacher. Lesson learned: not everything is worth remembering.
12- Performed in a dance recital in front of the whole school. Scary! I learned I have many years ahead of me of stage freight, although I eventually start my career as a television news reporter, doing the one thing that causes me tremendous anxiety.
13- Read my first real book, The Hobbit. Hated most of it. I do not like fiction. I don’t really enjoy reading. A weird fact that will follow me all throughout my life, and make for some long study nights!
14 – Gym class starts becoming a disaster (and for many years to come!). I am petrified to jump on the springboard and fling myself on to the pommel horse. I loathe the annual fitness test. I hate the little shorts I am forced to wear. I learn how to make good excuses for my absences. I become very good at excuses.
15- I am hired for my first job to help the kindergarten students during lunch time. I earn $1 a day. I am beyond proud to be selected for this “prestigious” work. Pride in my work is developed very early on.
16 – I win an award for outstanding academic achievement. This solidifies my path for many years to come as an academic nerd (proud of it!) and perfectionist. The perfectionism I am still learning to let go of…and my sanity thanks me!!