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:
- If you really don't like something and it causes you regular distress, speak up and get out of it!
- What people think isn't so important. It is not the end of the world to disappoint someone you love.
- Let people know your dreams. People that can, will help. It doesn't hurt to share what it is you really want.
- 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:
- Look squarely at the problem.
- Ask for help that FITS YOUR PERSONALITY.
- Be real. Negotiate. Arrange a schedule that feels better like only practicing twice a week.
- 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.
- Find what you love and do it. Pursue it and enjoy it.