Friday, January 20, 2006

Lessons Learned

My grandmother is 93 years old. I love her dearly. I will miss her a lot when her days are done. It occurred to me recently one of my earliest memories is of her teaching me how to tie my shoes. I recall her patiently showing me again and again, and being the independent perfectionist that I am, I wouldn't quit until I had succeeded. I remember being so proud of myself when I had done it and so I wrote a her a letter to tell her about that memory and how I was grateful to her for teaching me that simple but important skill.

So, in this blog entry, I'll list a few other lessons that stand out in my memory and acknowledge the teachers.

When I was a preschooler, my mom taught me how to read from a mail-order kit. I remember the big white cardboard flashcards with the bold red print on them. The cards were about 5" by 15". Some of them had recognizable logos on them like "Chevrolet" and "McDonalds." Others just had common words, like "brother" and "mommy." Still others had street signs. I remember being so tickled when I read those words somewhere other than the cards. By the time I was in kindergarten I could read sixth grade material. Couldn't exactly comprehend it, but could read it out loud.

In that same letter to my grandmother (they live together), I told my mother about how that gift has permeated every area of my life, given me enjoyment and success and self-confidence. I would not be the person I am without having learned how to read so well and so early.

My dad is a top-notch surgeon. He loves it and I don't see him retiring anytime soon. From his example I learned that you have to do what you love. Our time is limited on this earth and you shouldn't waste it on a career that doesn't give you joy and satisfaction.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I learned a valuable lesson for which I will be eternally grateful. My neighbor across the street, Linda, told me that she really regretted allowing her children to sleep all night in her bed when they were babies, because it took many years to get them out of it. Obviously, this had repercussions on her marriage. I know there are people who who believe sharing a family bed creates a bond among all the family members, but I'm not one of them. Because of Linda, the bed I share with my husband is a mainly kid-free zone. Cuddling is allowed. Sleep-overs are not, not even when they're sick.

Another woman to whom I am beholden is my high school English teacher, Mrs. Sternlicht. She taught me the very basics of writing paragraphs. I think that the success I earned in her class reinforced an innate enjoyment of writing that must have contributed to my being a writer today. She tried to engender a love of reading Shakespeare too, but that didn't take quite as well.


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