I didn't have a perfect childhood - no one does.
Several times this year I have run across people who I knew 20, 30, even 40 years ago. We were living in the same town, attending the same school, working at the same place. Some how, my life diverged from theirs, for the very much better.
Part of the credit goes to good old mom. Listen up, parents, because almost all of these things are free, because God knows we didn't have much money.
- She taught me to read. When I started kindergarten I had just turned five years old and was reading books when I was supposed to be coloring. Yes, I got into trouble for not following the rules my first day of kindergarten, a precursor to my academic career. I know you can read because you are reading this blog. If you can read, you can teach your child.
- She got me a library card. I still remember the excitement when I got my very own card. I was in kindergarten. Did you ever see that scene in Matilda where she is coming home from the library pulling a wagon piled with books? That was honest-to-God me by the time I was in fifth- or sixth-grade.
- She took me swimming a lot. When we had a YMCA membership, we went there almost every day. She also took us to the lakes near our house, and in the winters, to the ocean by my grandparents' house in Florida. I swim pretty regularly to this day. I travel a lot and almost every hotel has a pool. Thanks to mom, I weigh the same as I did when I won the world championships 31 years ago.
- She got me into a better elementary school. My mom got us an inter-district transfer before there was such a thing. Actually, we went to Catholic elementary schools, which were free back then, and Mom talked the priest into allowing us to attend the best school in town instead of the school in our parish.
- She taught me to ice skate. I think it was actually more taking me to the rink, putting some used skates on me and telling me to have fun. In much of the Midwest, there are outdoor rinks that are free all year. I went skating tonight with two of my lovely daughters and two granddaughter (it was far from free in Santa Monica!) and it was something fun that we still share.
- She got me into a private high school on scholarship . She found out about the school, filled out all of the paper work and then she drove 10 miles out of her way to work every day so I could attend.
- She got a job at a top private university that offered free tuition for the children of employees. There were not many opportunities for women back then and I'm sure her job as a secretary bored her out of her mind many days, and it didn't pay much. It was up to me to get the SAT score to get accepted, but knowing that it would be free was a big incentive. Thanks to the free tuition, my scholarship and full-time minimum wage jobs paid my living expenses and I was able to graduate owing $900.
- She taught me to cook. Even though my children have seldom witnessed it, the fact is that I can cook. Learning to cook is one of the best ways I know to understand equivalent fractions and conversion from different systems of measurement (like cups to pints). It also enabled me to save money when I was a broke graduate student by working at the co-op, getting fresh food cheap and making it myself. I just this minute ate some turkey soup I made from actual turkey and vegetables. It was delicious.
I get so tired of hearing people whine about things their parents didn't do. There are certainly parts of my childhood I wish were different.
Maybe we should all take a moment and reflect now and then on the things that went right.
P.S. Why didn't I talk about my mom signing me up for judo class? Because that, and some other things she did, are pretty specific to me, but I think these 8 or something similar could probably done by millions of mothers around the country.
Want to do something for YOUR mom? Click here to donate a classroom license to a school in her name, or just a license to a single child.
Don't have $$ but want to help your own child?
Check out a free game demo of Spirit Lake and Fish Lake here.
(After trying these out, you can buy the game for $10)