Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Embracing the Moment

When I was in fourth grade my parents moved to another house within our school district. Looking back this move brought about the first major change in my life. Even though, my parents assured me I would see my old friends when I went to junior high. This was three years in the future – an eternity in a child’s eyes. I was leaving a group of friends I had started in kindergarten with and attending a new school. I was also leaving behind a whole neighborhood filled with girls and boys my age. In this new neighborhood, I was the oldest girl among my younger brother’s friends. The nearest girl to my age was second grade and as a fourth grader this was a big deal.

At this new school I definitely stuck out like an odd bird in that school. I was dressed vintage 1950’s ideology before the TV show Happy Days became popular. Imagine bobby socks in the middle of a Cleveland winter – this was me. My mother had it in her mind that I should set an example by dressing in appropriate attire for school and this didn’t include pants (thus the 1950 mindset). My mother’s ideas were in conflict to these new and exciting time. It was the 1970 and the women’s movement was alive. Girls my age had choices and could wear jeans to school like the guys, but I had no choices other than to wear either a skirt or dress. What made matters worse even the Brady Bunch girls on TV got to wear pants to school.

It was hard being the new kid. You walk into a school, nervous because you have no idea what you are walking into. In my case, I was quickly placed into a box that I would spend the rest of my North Olmsted days trying to get out. I could jump rope okay but couldn’t spell – and the clothes: “Because my mother makes me”... wasn’t working out.

Where I found sanctuary was with my teacher Mrs. Kohl. She didn’t care what I wore and didn’t care that I couldn’t spell. And then there was Amy, she liked me the way I was. As a wise fourth grader sage, Amy always seemed to put things into prospective. What’s more she played chess and liked math – this put her in an odder position than me wearing skirts and dresses all the time. (Did I mention I also have braces and glasses....). When no one sat with me at lunch – Amy plopped herself down and began to tell it like it is. She always seemed to see the big picture and it wasn’t here it was somewhere in the future. She believed things would be different someday. Amy had self confidence – I wished I had back then.

My YFU children seem to have this confidence too. They embraced their differences and used it to their advantage. As the new kid, everyone knew who they were – the foreign exchange student. (That in itself is so exotic). However, my YFU children haven’t let people determine who they are, but have taken control over their destiny. They’ve been the captain of their ship. They’ve used this time to explore a different aspect of their self they didn’t know exist. Stina tried out science and discovered that she liked it. Jan? American sports – Football, basketball and track. Jakob – he submitted a scholarship application and got it for a trip to Washington DC. (We’re still waiting for Ayumi’s adventure to unfold)

Stina recently wrote me saying: “each day is an adventure.” I remember her coming back from school telling me how she’d shrug off comments about how she dressed by saying: This is what we wear in Sweden. (And, why didn’t I think of that phrase back in 4th grade?). Continuously, World Walkers tell they‘re having a once in a lifetime experience and are planning on living it to the fullest. The sky’s the limit on what they can experience here .... as long as it isn’t listed under dangerous activities. What people say – isn’t going to hold them back.

I wonder if we all decided to live this adventurous way. I wonder if life would be easier if we thought we were having a once in a lifetime experience. Myself? Back in 4th grade I would have thought more about what adventures Amy and I could share than agonizing over my clothes.

Brady Bunch Pork Chops and Apple Sauce....
Peter asks Alice what is for supper? She relies: Pork Chops with Apple Sauce.... Then Peter with his funny ways repeats in a bad Humphrey Bogart: “Pork Chops with Apple Sauce....”

4 Pork Chops
Salt and Pepper for seasoning 
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 Jar Applesauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Add pork chops to iron skillet and brown over medium heat.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Pour applesauce and cranberries over pork chops.
5. Bake 45 minutes or until done in the oven.

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