Thursday, November 30, 2006

Revisiting Recess

I've recently been pondering 4th grade recess. That's the year I learned to play tetherball, and 4 square. It was the first year the girls played with the boys during recess so there were many romances played out on the playground. If a guy liked you he lifted you out of line and got in front of you. I screamed and kicked and yelled that they were too strong and it wasn't fair.

The sexiest man at William Penn Elementary was the champion in tetherball. The sexiest girl was me because I was too short to reach the ball after the first wrap around the pole. I jumped around screaming at the guy that he was too tall and was hitting it too hard and fast. All the boys loved to play with me. I made them look good. It was my first lesson in boyfriend/ girlfriend relationships.

During recess on rainy days we walked the playground and counted the worms and talked about life, and how unfair our teacher was to make us finish subtraction during lunch. Venting with friends over lunch is therapeutic. How to deal with future mean bosses was practiced in the muddy track under the trees.

I learned that during kickball you would get a ball kicked into your face if you stood whining about whether you could kick it. You HAVE to kick it. Life clips along and we better learn that we have to choose to sit on the bench or play. Playing is enough. You don't have to know all the rules yet. When the team knows you're playing, they'll coach you in the rest of it.

I learned that getting picked last for every team is humiliating and I didn't want other people to feel that way. I picked losers whenever I got a chance. Losers, including me, become winners when they think somebody trusts them to play well.

I learned I could survive outside on freezing, snowy days, or standing in the rain for fifteen minutes. I learned that breathing fresh air, and moving my bored, stiff body actually gave me energy for the rest of the day. My brain was sharpened by hanging by my knees, and playing double-dutch. I still remember the jumprope rhymes that my mother taught me, mixed with those my Swedish friend's mother taught her. Cultural exchanges were taking place.

I fell off the merry go round once, pushed by the mean 6th grade boys, and had to get stitches in my knee. I was trampled and pummelled during a snowball fight and I cried and told the teacher and my mom. They commiserated, but I had to learn to fend for myself or avoid the situation on my own. That's a skill I've used a lot in real life.

I think recess was a major part of my education. I was the wimpy type who would have begged to stay in and erase the blackboard for the teacher if it had been allowed. It wasn't. Lots of times I had to endure lonliness and being left out, so I just stood on the sidelines and watched the action, but I learned a lot from that, too.

I mention all this to make you think of what you learned about life from recess. There are lots of schools that are cutting out recess. It's become too competetive, rough and unstructured, some say. Unless it's organized, kids might get left out, or hurt. So they have structured it and sanitized it so much that it is boring. Kids have no interest in such a curriculum-filled free time, so they break out their game-boys and sit on the playground. At least they won't break any recess rules that way. The teachers see that the kids aren't participating in their well-planned recess activities and surmise recess is a waste of time. Better get the kid off that game-boy and back on the computer!

A major part of education is becoming a balanced person, with ever expanding interests. Curiosity, learning to interact with a variety of personalities (including bullies and wimps) and how to stand up with a smile after being pummelled, knocked over, and left out—these skills are necessities.

Recess is where a lot of emotional education takes place in a natural setting. Let kids play! And remember that while we use the word play, to them it's the work of learning where they fit in this world and what they have to offer. Kids need a little time built into their day to daydream, look at the clouds, fiddle with their shoelaces, run around wildly and make strange noises. They need to act out the things they're learning using their own imaginations, with no help from adults to develop their own creativity. How can you logically teach about the Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc. and then ban any war play by the kids? Doesn't throwing snowballs, or playing tag demonstrate some mathematical, or scientific concept of velocity or something? Everything I learned about gravity was in a play-time setting when I was getting hit by airborne orbs on their way back down.

I'm losing my train of thought here...I need to go out to recess!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oma Style

I think I may have to move. I was snoring in church. And I don't know how loud! Dee had to leave early to come home and check on our turkey. It's like his little pet, even though it's already dead. He has had so much fun since he picked her up yesterday, bathing her in salt brine, stuffing her with apples and onions, putting butter under her skin. He got up a couple of times during the night just to check on her! Anyway, he had to come home in case she needed something before she starts fake tanning in the oven, and I was sitting alone, in the middle of our bench.

During the sacrament I reverently closed my eyes and was abruptly awakened by a stranger holding the bread tray next to me. I could barely keep from laying right down on the cushions (we have cushions at the JSMB) until the sacrament was over. Then I closed my eyes. Suddenly I was falling! I jerked awake before I hit the bench in front of me, and realized the 2nd speaker was almost finished! I had slept soundly through the first speaker, and the choir number! I covered my quick snort and jerk with a cough, but then I noticed the 2nd counselor on the stand watching me, and laughing (hopefully at a joke I'd slept through). The worst part of it is, I often fall asleep, sitting up when I'm watching TV at night, yet I think I'm still awake, and Dee will suddenly say "Dear! You're snoring!" I can't even hear's like I go into a strange little elderly woman trance. So there is good reason to suspect I was making horrible sounds in church for 40 minutes or longer. There are no kids to cover up the silence. We do have a few oxygen tanks making a gentle hiss every few seconds in counterpoint to each other, and once in a while a coughing spasm will remind us we're in a room full of people, but I have no idea if I was lucky enough to be outclassed by that.

As I was walking home I thought of the high-heeled boots that I stylishly wore to make myself look cool. I saw the chandelier earrings swinging saucily in my shadow and noticed that the brisk fall temperature had allowed me to keep my well cut jacket on throughout the meetings without bringing a sweat to my brow. This could have been the day that I achieved my own personal style....except I snored all through church!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Literate at Last

The Thanksgiving after Marta started school Pat Wade asked the primary kids to tell about a blessing they had recieved this year that they didn't have last year. Someone said a bike, another said a new baby, and then Marta said "I can read." That was so profound to me and it still makes me tear up. Being able to read is one of the greatest blessings I have.

If I was asked what new blessing I've recieved in 2006, I'd say my computer. 2006 has been the year I've discovered what the computer can do for me! Pete replaced my old computer with a Mac Mini which has become one of my best friends. I got a scanner, and I spend a few hours every day learning and practicing new skills. It's awesome! I realize I'm a little late to the game, and my grandkids are more comfortable with a mouse than I am, but these new abilities have opened a whole new world to me. Thanks to all who have taught me lessons, talked me through procedures, fixed my equipment, and given me confidence that even an old Oma can be a nerd!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A New York Tourist

If I were going to New York this week I would go to Bloomingdales, walk down 5th Ave (H&M) go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but not go through it, just go to the gift shop which is awesome, and eat lunch, go to a musical, go to Ground Zero and then over to Century 21 which is a cool TJ Maxx kind of place with designer clothes, go to a Kate's Paperie (there are several around town, look in the phone book and find one close to where you'll be. I go to the one at 57th Street between 6th and 7th Ave. It's a very neat paper, kind of scrapbook store, but with NYC style. Christie always raves about Chinatown where she goes shopping for knock off purses, and she loves it. I've never been there.

A store I think you'd love is MacKenzie and Childs (57th Street between 5th and 6th Ave.) It's a home furnishings store that is very cool. I always go to a store called Tender Buttons (62nd Street between Lexington and 3rd Ave). It's close to Bloomingdales and it's a tiny store that just sells buttons. It sounds strange, but there are beautiful antique buttons, coin type, designer, etc. I collect them and picture myself doing something cool with them someday. There's another place called Pierre Deux that's close around there (625 Madison Ave. at 58th St) that sells French country fabrics, gifts, furnishings, etc.
I love children's books and the store that is supposed to be Meg Ryan's store in You've Got Mail is called Books of Wonder. It's out of the way a little bit, but I go there every trip because I love it. I take a taxi: 18th Street between 5th and 6th Ave. Dee always finds the cool used book stores and we usually spend some time in the libraries wherever we go. The NY Public Library on 5th Ave at 37th Street is really neat. The inside is where they filmed the museum scenes and final scene of Thomas Crown Affair, and the outside is where Jerry and George find their old gym teacher sitting on the steps by the lion statues. There's a park called Bryant Park behind the library where there are often fashion shows and photo shoots, and there's a cafe that's really good. I love to go there.

In the morning I hit Bloomingdales, Kate's Paperie, MacKenzie and Childs and a bookstore right there called Rizzoli's (57th Street just off 5th Ave), and then I start walking on 5th Avenue and stop for lunch at Rockefeller Plaza, then go down to the library which is close to the Empire State Building, shop in the very cute Library Gift Shop, and then get a dessert and coke at Bryant Park. Then I usually take a taxi back to my hotel, or to meet Dee for dinner somewhere. I sometimes use the subway, but I'd rather be above ground and see places, unless I'm in a hurry to cover a lot of ground.

There's a bar/restaurant at the top of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square that is revolving and they have a good but expensive buffet after about 5pm. The view is unbelievable and if you sit there an hour you see the whole city. You're paying for the view but it's worth it. We love to eat at the Carnegie Deli or the Stage Deli. They are both on 7th Ave at about 55th Street. They have fantastic Reubens, Pastrami, etc. and NY Cheesecake. The sandwiches are HUGE and about $20 each, and you have to pay to split one, but it's fun. They are famous so someone can tell you where to go exactly. There is so much to do....I just love it there!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why blog?

I have always been a writer. I kept diaries from the time I could write. For elementary school assignments I loved becoming the character we were studying (Magellan, a passenger on the Mayflower, a soldier in the Civil War are a few I remember) and writing their journal entries. I always died at the end, and my writing turned into scribbles, and then just a long line to the bottom of the page when I slumped down with my last breath. When I was a teenager working at my dad's office I would write long letters to my best friend (who I saw every day, and talked to on the phone at least that often) just for the fun of writing them.

I always think better when I write my thoughts down. I've written hundreds of poems, years of journal entries, several magazine articles and even a few books just to see what comes out of my pen. I don't like to write fiction; I don't have that much imagination. Instead I like to chronicle my life, and explore what experiences mean to me, and especially the lessons I see in everyday life and write what I've learned. I love analyzing politics, books, the lyrics of songs, and why people say and do things. I understand everything better when I've written about it.

To be a fulfilled writer, you need an audience; even an imaginary audience will do. Up until recently that meant either coaxing someone to read your stuff, sending it to someone as a kind of offering to force them to read it, or getting a publisher of some sort to decide you would be worth reading. Most of my would-be publishers have decided I'm not. But I still need to write! So that's why I'm going to blog.

I can picture you, my readers, and whether you read or not, I'll still get the therapy I receive from expressing myself, and I'll have it recorded in a permanent record in the Blogosphere Library. I'm excited!

Friday, November 10, 2006