Props and Memories
I packed up the usual props and headed off for another School Days Theme. I think I heard at least 2 entertaining stories for each prop. Most of these shared thoughts made us chuckle or smile, but there were a couple of stories that made me just plain sad.
The Old School Desk
Everyone always loves the little school desk. So many remember sitting in a similar one as a child. A few went to 1-room school houses.
Marie said she she started first grade in a small school where the eighth graders sat in front and with the youngest in the back row. Her inexperienced teacher started each day with the oldest students in front and never got to the back row. Sometimes Marie would sleep at her little desk and by the end of first grade she couldn't read. "My family moved and I had to repeat first grade in my new school."
We all remembered the apple as a gift you might give your teacher... to get on her good side. Few of us remembered ever really giving one.
Many remembered "taking" lunch to school. Some had lunch boxes or pails.
Very few bought lunch in a cafeteria. Naomi remembered when her school started a hot lunch program for the first time. "Children had to bring their own spoon and bowl from home." She remembered the first hot lunch that was served. "It was an alphabet soup, that made the lunchroom so quiet!
She laughed and told why. "All the kids we so busy trying to spell out their names in their soup!"
Friends and Bullies
There are big camp gains to stop bullying in schools these days. Even in the good old days, school kids dealt with bullies. The subject came up with my group at the Center and I was sad to hear Adelle share how she had often been the center of much teasing, because her family was poor.
Adelle threw her head back and laughed, "They made fun of me because I wasn't clean and I just laughed back at them. I told them I didn't really care what they thought about me!" Adelle has always had a playful sense of humor and I asked her if humor helped her deal with those kids. She hardly paused a moment to answer. "No." She answered softly with no hint of fun in her voice.
Dorothy told a touching story about her rural school in Mississippi. A medical bus arrived one day and the children were given of exams. The concerned doctor called her mother and she remembered the frightened look on her mother's face when the doctor shared news about her lung condition.
I've known Dorothy for 2 years now and I don't even notice the tubes that give her oxygen. What I had never realized was that her health had been dependent on that oxygen since childhood. But Dorothy smiled as she remembered the doctor's kind words, giving her courage to not be afraid of her condition. "This is just the way I am." She said, with the same positive tone she always uses.
What did I learn?
Both funny and sad stories were shared about school days. Sometimes we get caught up with our nostalgia and think the Good Old Days were always better. Not always so.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.