School Daze

“Two great gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts, mutilated monkey meat, itty-bitty birdy feet; two big eyeballs rolling down a dirty street and me without a spoon…”

Out of all of the things I could remember from grade school, this is the one thing that just instantly pops in my head when I think of those early days of being a kid in the 70’s. I know there are different versions, depending on where in the world you grew up and so there are variations on the theme, but in general, it’s just plain silliness and I love it.

Whenever I think of school, the first thing that comes to mind is the crisp Autumn air, the leaves turning color and the back to school shopping, which was hands-down my favorite part of it all. Some kids want new shoes, new clothes and backpacks. I, on the other hand, looked forward to new pens and fresh, unmarked notebooks and piles of binder paper, just waiting to be filled with the endless stream of thoughts and ideas I always seem to find whenever faced with a blank page. I loved the new beginning, fresh start and endless possibilities that awaited me with each new school year; it was like New Year’s except without the hangover and the pressure to make resolutions. It was a chance to learn, to strengthen existing friendships, make some new ones and exercise my brain, while learning new concepts and discovering new worlds that I had not previously known. It was an escape from an unquiet, chaotic household to a world of order, clearly defined rules of behavior and expectations. It was a world of learning and because I was (and still am) a huge fan of learning, I received a great deal of praise and encouragement in those classrooms. It was a place that I felt I truly belonged to and some of my most formative lessons growing up took place at school.

As an adult, of course, things are a little different, but I still love learning. I have to work harder than I did as a kid because 5o is just around the proverbial corner and because (as you all know) my mood swings around like dancers doing the Lindy Hop.

But there are rewards that by far outweigh the effort put forth; the sense of accomplishment, of facing challenges and overcoming obstacles that you just don’t get when you run away or quit. It reinforces the belief that I am capable, intelligent and have some serious moxie.

mox·ie
noun NORTH AMERICAN informal
force of character, determination, or nerve.

I love that word, moxie. It’s so cool. Makes me think of old school gangster movies with Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Bogey.

Sorry. Shiny thing distracted me.

At any rate, school will always be a place that I love. I may not like the teacher, the subject matter or other miscellaneous things, it is a happy place for me and the memories of playing dodgeball and hopscotch will always be some of my all-time favorites. My first slumber party, becoming a song leader (cooler dancing sister to the cheerleader) and playing volleyball are some of milestones that made me the woman I am today and the teachers who were endlessly patient with my endless supply of questions nurtured the desire to learn in me and allowed me to explore my intellect and question what others called the truth.

Doodles. That’s another thing I love about school. Doodles are awesome.

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The Child Within

I have long believed that there is a child within me that directs me, demands things and screams to be heard; it’s the younger version of me, about 5 or 6 years old. She is still very much alive within me and is very persistent in her demands. That child part of me is always looking for something to make me feel good, but as a child, has no ability to sense when feeling good isn’t always possible and difficult “yucky” things must be done instead. Like going to work, waking up early and not eating ice cream and jelly beans for breakfast. The child within demands to be heard, to be loved and to be nurtured. Not necessarily by anyone else, but by me, the woman that I am today. It’s almost as if when I was a child, I kept hope that someday I would be in control, I would be able to do whatever I wanted and as a result, that part of me is now requesting her wishes to be fulfilled. So, within reason and whenever possible, I let the child out; to play, to eat jelly beans and ice cream and to watch cartoons, stay up late on New Year’s Eve and even to tell her story. Yes, she most definitely has a story to tell and it’s all hers. One day, I’ll let her post something and she will tell her view of living her life.

I think all of us have these children within us, especially Adult Children of Alcoholics. We had to grow up very fast, have a heightened sense of awareness, testing the emotional waters whenever our alcoholic parent came home. We had to not shed tears, not make noise and basically, become invisible at times, just to survive. As a result of that, the child does not grow up feeling like an adult, but is sometimes stuck in that state of childhood. I feel that it’s very important to recognize when that child hijacks the mind and does things that aren’t always in our best interest. A great deal of the substance and alcohol abuse I experienced were largely in part because I didn’t want to feel anything, I wanted to be numb. A child cannot process complex situations and detach from the emotions; emotions rule and logic is not yet present; so to numb oneself or to hide seems to be their only option. As an adult, I realize that I must face those unpleasant truths, relive some uncomfortable experiences with logic and maturity to understand what I must do to heal. Feeling the pain, the heartbreak and the disappointment isn’t fun, but once those things are dealt with and faced, the healing can begin. I liken it to getting a tattoo; it hurts while it’s happening, but once it’s finished, the pain lessens until there is no pain at all. Then you just have a really cool piece of body art and the pain was more than worth it (if you’re into that sort of thing, of course)

So, today I am going to let my child within have a few hours watching cartoons and eating waffles with peanut butter and syrup before I have to get down to the business at hand, the yucky stuff, like doing laundry, grocery shopping and just being an adult.

If you feel that you have a child within you also, let him/her out for a bit and see what fun you can have, being a kid again. Love unconditionally, see beauty in everyday life and just laugh, play and shrug your troubles off your shoulders and smile.

In the movie Mama Mia, there is a conversation that I absolutely love and it goes something like this:

Tanya: What happened to that girl who wanted to be a star?

Donna: I grew up.

Tanya: Well, grow back down!

Excellent advice.

Have a great Saturday!