Thank you for all the nice comments and feedback I received this past week about my blog, my mom, and your moms. It was very heartening. And it came as no surprise when she made a guest appearance in one of my dreams.
I dreamed I was standing on the sidewalk near the garage of my childhood home. There was snow on the ground and I was minding three dachshunds who were running around in the yard, on the driveway and down the sidewalk. A car slowly backed out of the garage and the passenger window rolled down. I leaned in to see the driver. It was my mom. She said, “Get in, I’ll take you to school.”
This is one of those times where what happens in dreams takes a huge departure from real life. I understand the presence of the dachshunds, the snow, and my childhood home. But let me say never, ever, did my mom say to me, “Get in, I’ll drive you to school.”
I’ve mentioned before that I was a townie and I walked to school. At the time I viewed this as a form of torture – thirteen years of torture. Well, maybe only ten years of torture. Once I was in high school, I had friends that had cars and they would pick me up and take me to school. Actually, I don’t remember the journey home being as much of a struggle. Not as cold? Not as dark? Just glad to be headed home? I don’t know. But I do remember begging and pleading to be driven to school. It was always a no go.
In retrospect, I have many fond memories of being an elementary school walker. Our school superintendent, Mr. Howlett, lived a couple blocks further away from the school than we did, and he was also a walker. My friends and I would see him coming down the street and we would rush to walk with him, clamoring to hold his hand. Years later (when I was in my forties) I had the occasion to visit with him and he reminded me about those days. I was slightly embarrassed, but he seemed pleased as he told me about a particular time that my friends and I jockeyed for position and I said to him, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you had three hands.”
I don’t remember traveling home in snowy weather as much as I remember traveling toward school. My mom would bundle me up like I was headed to the arctic and then load me down with things I needed to take to school. I specifically remember carrying a lunch box and indoor shoes, but can’t really say what else. Oh! We did drag our sleds to school. There was a hill behind the school and we would rush through lunch so we could head to the hill. I’m not really sure what else I would have been carrying, but I do remember the feeling of being burdened down. Perhaps I was concerned about keeping a hand free and available for Mr. Howlett.
Winter was great! We would stop and make snow angels, play follow-the-leader so we created only one set of footprints, and seek out any frozen water that we could jump on to see if it would crack. I specifically remember when one of the neighborhood boys stuck his tongue on the chain link fence post outside the school administration building. It was a scene right out of A Christmas Story except that no one summoned an adult and he did actually yank his tongue off the post. I can still see the blood on his tongue.
Traveling home from school, we had more time for side trips. This sometimes posed a problem as it seems I often had ‘papers’ to take home. Typical ‘papers’ included graded classwork, mimeographed notices about events, monthly school lunch calendars, Scholastic book flyers, etc. I was a pretty responsible child when it came to those types of things. If an authoritative adult told me to take some ‘papers’ home to my parents, you can rest assured I gave it a good effort. However, it seems overly optimistic to think you can give a five, six, or seven year old child a fistful of ‘papers’ and think they’ll all arrive safely at the end of a seven block journey. I still remember the indignity of having my report card pinned to the front of my jacket with a safety pin after I had lost the previous one between here and there. On the way home side trips might include a couple quick runs down the sledding hill, a ‘shortcut’ through the only alley in town (it was not on our route), or an impromptu playdate with a friend. I remember a severe scolding after I stopped to play at Kevin Basore’s house on my way home and I had lost track of time.
My friend Chris, also a walker when she was a kid, told me they were warned to stay away from the railroad tracks – so of course they made side trips there to put pennies on the rail. We had railroad tracks in my town too. I don’t remember being warned away. We hung out there on many a Saturday afternoon.
Memories are complicated. I didn’t remember my walks with Mr. Howlett until his prompting, but then they came rushing back. MOH and I often have different memories of the same event. And sometimes the events you plan, trying to make memories for your kids, just don’t pan out. I recently posted a quote from Dr. Seuss on my Willow page. “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” So true.