Superficial

Superficial: appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely

Facebook is what came to mind when I saw today’s prompt. It reminded me of the time someone said to me “you’re always smiling and so happy!!” Well yeah, do you really want to see a post of me yelling at my husband, or perhaps a great capture of me washing the kitchen floor and cursing under my breath? Sure there are the occasional posts of people overcoming challenges they are faced with. Like just this morning when I saw a friend of mine from High School, smiling, with a post under her smiling photo that said: I have adjusted to living with Parkinson’s Disease but miss dancing, with the hashtag “new normal” and #rocksteady. Yes, Facebook can be a place to share one’s trials and triumphs and get positive feedback in the comments that can help boost one’s moral, but at the end of the day she is still living with her new normal and no amount of posting her smiling face is going to change that. I am pretty sure she must have her dark moments, but no one really wants to hear or see them.

To the outside world we present a superficial appearance, putting on the smiles, speaking in soft tones, speaking politely (usually). My true colors appear now and then and people are so surprised to find out I am not that patient, kind person they thought I was. They have met my sharp tongue and ability to fly off the handle with little notice. Hard as I try to maintain that superficial exterior, it crumbles away now and then.

While cleaning out a box of old photos recently, I came across two that made me laugh, that most likely would not have made it to Facebook had it been around in 1974 and 1978.

Here is my mother in 1974 at the age of 42, in a stance quite familiar to her children, but usually not the outside world.

She had returned something she bought in a local camera shop that had broken, and the guy snapped her photo before giving her a new whatever it was. You didn’t want to start up with my mother when she had been “wronged” a trait I seem to have inherited from her. # attitude

The following photo was taken in 1978, when I was 21. Who knows what I was brooding about, but I was a pro at it through my teenage years and early 20’s. This is the kitchen in the home I grew up, and I have no idea who took the photo. Another that most likely would not have made it onto my Facebook or Instagram feed. #brooding

I suppose we all need to maintain a certain degree of superficiality (?) to those we do not want to be privy to our innermost thoughts and who we really are. It’s all smiles and thumbs up. # superficial

Educate

How appropriate that the prompt today is Educateon this last day of summer break, the day before the new school year begins. I came upon a quote last week that I loved:

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

-William Arthur Ward

Working as an Assistant Teacher for six years now, I have had the opportunity to see different teaching styles in action. I found the quote holds so true, after witnessing those teachers who just tell and those who inspire. There is great import put on “differentiated learning” where I work, recognizing that not all children learn the same way. If one method doesn’t work, doesn’t reach a child, find another way to allow him to understand. I have found this approach to be rewarding, both for the student and myself- approaching a concept from a different direction, having to find that route that will allow me to reach the child and then his light bulb moment of “getting it” is a great feeling.

I will combine the daily prompt with my smile of the week, as they are connected.

The First Grade class I had last year was a special one, both the head teacher and I were very sad to say good bye at the end of the year. It was a very cohesive group, the boys looked out for one another, were eager to learn, and overall were just a pleasure to see everyday. Last week I had orientation for the upcoming year, and one afternoon as I was putting up a bulletin board I heard my name being called. It was three of the boys from last year’s class. I ran down the hall to greet them, all of us excited to see one another. Never missing the opportunity for a selfie, we took one together, which I later emailed to the mother of one of the boys. This child had needed a little extra help last year, and as a result the mother and I developed a close relationship. She emailed me back to say his seeing me was the highlight of his day, he was so excited. It was a feel good moment hearing that, knowing that the impression I made on this child in first grade was a positive one. On Saturday, there was a knock at my front door, and my husband called to me upstairs saying someone was here asking for Miss Lisa. I came down to find another student from last year standing there with his mother. She told me they were passing my house and he wanted to stop to say hello. She said he “had to” stop and say hello. Once again I was very touched, and continue to smile every time I think of it.

Educating is not just about disseminating information and teaching new concepts, how to add, subtract and spell but I believe also about fostering connections with students, handing over lessons of right and wrong, and taking a true interest in the student as a person.

I aspire to be that teacher that inspires.

The Suit Fund

When I saw the prompt Tailor for today, a post I wrote a few years ago came immediately to mind. I am re posting it for today’s prompt.

The letter arrived in the mail the other day. Just as it has in countless mailboxes for the last 60 years. Every year before the Jewish holiday of Passover the letter arrives from the parochial elementary school my husband attended, with a request for a donation to the “Suit Fund.” The donations are used to buy new suits before the holiday, for the boys whose families cannot afford to do so. My husband was one of those boys back in 1956.

My husband was 10 years old when his father died. It was sudden and with no warning. His father had gone into the hospital with a kidney problem, nothing life threatening. My husband and his mother had gone to visit him in the afternoon, he remembers his father joking and kidding as he always did. Four hours later they got a phone call saying he had died. He had been given some kind of injection that had caused a heart attack. He was 46 years old. Today there would be malpractice suits, and investigations, but the year was 1956 and there was none of that happening. What was happening was a young mother of 36 was left with 2 sons ages 17 and 10 and alot of grief. She and her husband had opened a retail dry goods store in Brooklyn just a year before, which fortunately meant there would be some income. But not much. My husband remembers being left alone in the store once a week when his mother had to go to New York City to buy merchandise from the wholesalers. If someone asked for something that he couldn’t find he would tell them, “Please come back tomorrow when my mother is here.” He was 12.

So he was one of the boys who would be a recipient of the Suit Fund. He and six other boys would pile into the Principal’s Car and head off from Brooklyn to Manhattan’s Lower East Side to get new suits. It was handled in a very discreet manner, but he said he remembers feeling a bit embarrassed, knowing that being one of the boys who got a suit this way did set him apart. Once at the store they could pick out whatever they wanted, it was then tailored to fit, and they all got a new shirt and tie too. He made this trip for a new suit from 4th grade until 8th grade when he graduated.

There are events that happen in our lives that change us, shape us, define who we will become. Experiencing the death of a parent at a young age is one of those events. The ramifications run deep and are far reaching. It set my husband apart from the other boys in his class, but at the same time made him more aware of the needs of others, more sensitive to the hardships people can experience that come about not because of anything they have done, but because of circumstances beyond their control.

My husband has given to the suit fund from the day he began working, close to 50 years ago. Every year as he writes out that check, he is reminded of the blessings in his life, and thankful that he is able to give back. Knowing that a young boy will feel good about having a new suit to wear on the holiday, just as he did.

Bury

While walking on the beach at sunrise last summer, I saw a dog digging furiously in the sand. The size of the hole he was creating was quite deep. I asked the woman he was with what he was digging for, and she said, “oh you’ll see.” Sure enough he unearthed a large piece of wood which the woman told me he had buried there the day before. I didn’t ask how he knew the spot where it was, I just enjoyed seeing his look of satisfaction as he sat there taking in the sunrise after a job well done. They’re not called Retrievers for nothing.

Bury

Yarn

I learned to knit from my mother when I was a child, knit one, purl two. My mother knitted blankets and sweaters- I only wish I still had the one from my childhood with the beautiful silver buttons. I never progressed beyond knitting scarves, they were straight and easy and no patterns to follow. I took up knitting again a few years back, though still not progressing beyond scarves. I did try new stitches and patterns. The first scarf I knitted a few years ago was using a seed stitch, which consists of single knits and purls that alternate horizontally and vertically. Seed stitch gets its name from the texture of the knitted fabric — the little purl bumps look like scattered seeds. Although a little more complicated than the garter and stockinette stitches, seed stitch creates an interesting texture. This was my finished scarf, which I still love to wear every winter.

Yarn