Because I Need Something Normal. . .

. . . I'm posting the first two answers to the Ask Kate P (Nearly) Anything questions.

From artiste extraordinaire Annie Coe: [W]hat is your fondest memory from childhood?

Oooh. Annie gets right down to business. Believe it or not, this is a bit of a toughie. I don’t want to be one of those “had a lousy childhood” whiners, but there were definitely issues—undiagnosed food allergy, transfer to a bad school, camping trips from hell, and so on—that don’t really lend themselves to Great Moments of My Youth. Instead, I had bits and pieces of brightness that I remember with fondness, I guess. I’ll share a few of those:

--Definitely any time I spent with my cousin “
Sonny (like the one mentioned in question #2 here). Also along those lines, there was this one time that my mom's extended family got together (not sure if it was a wedding/funeral, but it was in a restaurant), and I remember one of my other first-cousins-once-removed just took such an interest in me--one of so many kids! I wasn't even sure he knew who I was, but there we were, chatting away. He's still like that with me today at family get-togethers. I can hardly believe he's got a daughter in college and a son in high school now.

Late nights when Younger Sister and I would be getting along and could not stop talking and giggling, in spite of repeated visits from our annoyed parents, ordering us to be quiet and go to sleep. In the same category, the time we figured out the corner of the living room concealed by the Christmas tree and the sofa was the perfect secret reading spot. We laid down a kid-size sleeping bag on the floor and read all the books we got for Christmas. (I know, sounds nerdy but getting books for Christmas was a big deal. Sometimes we picked them out ourselves but we wouldn’t have them until we unwrapped them. I remember anticipating reading this one.)

Art classes at the community center after school. Maybe my parents didn’t have a lot of the necessary skills to deal with me, but at least they gave me something that was all mine (my sibs were never in the same class as me), some space to breathe for 90 minutes or whatever, where none of the other kids knew me—and trust me, a bullied kid is grateful to have her school-day reputation stay behind, even if just temporarily—and I could just work creatively, no hassles. The teachers were encouraging and not critical (which I felt most adults were towards me at the time, e.g. it's your fault the other kids tease you mercilessly). Maybe I don’t make art per se nowadays, but it’s always with me.

Question #2 comes from the lovely Amy G: If you were to give the commencement address at the high school where you work, what would you say?

Hmmm, another thoughtful one. I think I’d start off telling them it was a tremendous experience working with them in the library and the classrooms this past year--how enjoyable it was seeing them grow intellectually. I'd congratulate them for having come this far. . . and then I’d keep challenging them. The idea of “Do Hard Things” comes to mind. I can’t talk about religion, but I can still talk about character and ethics. Because my job involves a lot having to do with the digital sphere, I’d probably talk about what it means to be a responsible citizen, in the immediate community, in our country, online—and because of the online aspect, in the world. Whether they like it or not, they’re growing up and leaving behind the chances they were given to let things slide. In the world beyond school, deadlines mean something. Nobody’s going to write them a pass if they’re late heading to their next destination. They often complain that they’re never going to use what they’ve studied in “real life,” but now they are coming to the point where they realize our efforts were to teach them to think more than anything else. They are going to find out what really matters, and to what (or whom) they’ll be wishing they’d paid more attention.

And I really, really hope that if they’re heading to college, they’ll make friends with the university library staff.

More to come. . .


Annie Coe said…
Hey, next to my chidhood(don't ask) yours sounds lovely, lucky you, having a sister to talk with late at night. I have two half sisters, but did not meet them until I was in my late 20's.
Good luck tomorrow on your last day, I would fling that paperweight
:-). xoxo
Kate P said…
Annie--interesting perspective on family there. And HA! I guess I should've flung that paperweight!

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