Monday, April 02, 2007

When I Was Eight

When I was eight I had a 2nd grade teacher I did not like, Mrs. Enbom. This was particularly hard since my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Barrett had been wonderful. I had a hard time learning to tell time, and Mrs. Enbom was no help. I remember I made a painting on my BIG art folder that looked just like Abraham Lincoln. I was proud of that picture.

I will always remember my 8th birthday--because it was so fun. My parents had string criss-crossed all over the house and outside. I was to follow the string to my birthday present. I found it behind the couch in the living room--my first two-wheeled bike with training wheels--orange. It took awhile for me to learn, and I remember my dad behind me, holding onto the bike (training wheels were off) to help it stay up, and giving it a little push. Very exciting to finally ride a bicycle on my own. It felt like quite an accomplishment.

Did I start ballet when I was 8? I think so. I remember a wood floor, mirrors on the wall, and bars to hold on to. I remember pliés and tour jetés and spotting while I turned. I remember lining up with the girls to dance a step or turn across the room, one girl at a time. I LOVED IT! and I didn't have to practice every day (unlike piano).

I also remember piano. I HATED practicing! I hated it mostly because I just didn't want to stop doing other things to go sit at the piano and work. I think I only practiced when my mother made me. Piano lessons were usually embarrassing--in fact, embarrassment is the word I most associate with playing the piano. Embarrassed I hadn't practiced. Embarrassed every time I made a mistake. Embarrassed I looked bad. It was so important to me to look good and get approval. Piano was a constant reminder that I was failing and not living up to my potential. I had enough skill that my mom and piano teacher thought I could do really good. My sister Julie just refused to practice I think. She got to quit piano and take horse-back lessons--mostly to motivate her to stop sucking her thumb.

I would have LOVED horseback lessons. I would have done anything to take horseback lessons--maybe even practice my piano. (probably not). HORSES--I drew horses and ballerinas relentlessly through grade school I think. I remember the horse face because I had a drawing book that showed me how. I memorized the drawing and practiced it over and over again. And I drew ballerinas, over and over again, hands above the head with pink tutus and pointed toes. I loved ballerinas. I still love horses. I read every horse book in the library. When I finished all the horsebooks, I read all the dog books. When I finished all the dog books I read science fiction (Jr. High) and Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes.

If I were to write a letter to my eight-year-old self, it might be like this:

Dear Martha
  1. If you really don't like something and it causes you regular distress, speak up and get out of it!
  2. What people think isn't so important. It is not the end of the world to disappoint someone you love.
  3. Let people know your dreams. People that can, will help. It doesn't hurt to share what it is you really want.
  4. There will always be something in your life to remind you that you are failing. If there is no choice and you can't get out of it:
    1. Look squarely at the problem.
    2. Ask for help that FITS YOUR PERSONALITY.
    3. Be real. Negotiate. Arrange a schedule that feels better like only practicing twice a week.
    4. Get over it. Failing is a part of being alive--being human. Failure is wonderful, because failing reminds you that you are not God and that you need him.
  5. Find what you love and do it. Pursue it and enjoy it.


The Thompson Family said...

Hmmm... something had to inspire you to write this.. what was it? It got me thinking about when I was 8... I had a really BAD perm, we'll leave it at that! Glad to see you're blogging again!

Marti said...

My inspiration: I am taking a class called Artist's Way. This was one of my assignments. Lots of journaling in this class.

Bob said...

Hey we share an experience! I too remember finding my bycicle at the end of a string maze...I thought mom and dad were original with me. As the younger sibling I was in awe of your piano skills! I thought you were awesome!...It's all perspective isn't it!