Saturday, November 13, 2010
In the 2nd grade my teacher nicknamed me Mouth
I talked a lot. I had so much to say. I simply could not manage to wait until the appropriate time to say it. Poor Mrs. Taylor.
This week was not what I expected. I traveled home to mourn the loss of a dear man, the father of a very special family, whom I've adored since early childhood. But it was one of those perfect funerals, if there is such a thing, where there was as much sadness for the loss as there was celebration for the life. With that celebration came the reminiscing, the stories, laughter and memories of a life that could not have been improved and one that I am thankful to share some history with.
Sitting at a luncheon after the funeral, talking to my mom and some of the family members, she brought up something that I had no recollection of from second grade. The conversation had led to the size of my family (as it often does) and she told me that my second grade teacher predicted that I would either be a teacher or have a huge family. After a little back and forth we started to remember the circumstances. There was a little girl, Kelly, in my class who had Down Syndrome that become a good friend. That part, as well as other details, I remember. But apparently, another detail included a day where I had gotten angry and spoke out at Mrs. Taylor for saying something to Kelly that I felt was unkind, and I made such a stink (surely in my 7-yr-old mouthy way) that a conference was called with my mother. Its that part that I forget somehow, that I had been mad at my teacher. What I most explicitly recall, though, is that at some point, likely after the conference, Mrs. Taylor moved my desk next to Kelly's desk and our friendship was nurtured. In the days and weeks of 2nd grade that followed I mouthed off to anyone who said anything unkind to her. It was like my new occupation. I can still remember what it felt like in my chest, like a wadded fiery knot, when someone called her a name or taunted her. It inflamed me. I called one boy a piece of poop. (I clearly remember the most important parts.) Don't think for a minute that this guardian role that was bestowed upon me got me out of getting in trouble for my mouth. Looking back, I have no idea how that poor woman even taught the 2nd grade she spent so much time telling me to shut up. Sigh. But I think it was an exchange that we had. She figured out how to use my mouth to help her do her job, and help her care for and teach Kelly too. Kelly and I had several play dates and she was a sweet, spirited, selfless friend that I won't forget.
The drive back after the funeral produced a realization of how her friendship formed me. It also reminded me of some discipline at home that I need to follow up on. One of my boys, who shall remain nameless here (but it wasn't Roman or Joseph), used the word retarded to insult his brother. Enter: fiery wadded knot. I have just about memorized the lecture that follows whenever I hear this. I could bare to hear stupid, idiot, dumbbutt, goobersmack, uhhh, poop or almost any other word used as an insult. And as a parent of kids in those middle years, I could spend every waking moment saying stopit, quitit, no, uhuh, heyyou, biteyertongue, gotoyeroom, etc. But this time, I decided it was time for him to put his money where his mouth is. So today we are researching charitable groups who aid in the education and care of mentally disabled children so that nameless can donate his next two months of allowance. He will be a kind boy. And mostly he is already. But he will be a completely kind boy who is aware of what comes out of his mouth. Even if it it kills me.
Dear Mrs. Taylor, I am a teacher and I have a huge family and I am still defending sweet Kelly. (And I still earn my nickname everyday.)
p.s. thanks for the memories Mom (that's us at Quilt Market!)