Tuesday, June 1, 2010

now like then

When I was growing up, I remember wanting to be four things: a mom, a teacher, a psychologist, and an advertising copywriter.

I see my little self taking care of our beloved wiry, ratty terrier Elly May, though "taking care of" meant to me running around with in the weeds, letting her tug on and tear tiny holes in my jacket sleeves, and inspiring her to howl on our trailer porch while I played my shrill recorder at 1000 decibels. When she was hit by a car [not on my watch, for the record], my (s)mothering attentions turned to my baby sister whom I doted on until she was old enough to open the door to my room and mess with my books & records.

I recall the numerous times I set up a classroom of stuffed animals & dolls - everyone in neat rows facing my propped-up garage sale chalkboard - and carefully called roll, pausing to wait for imaginary responses. My grandpa gave me old ledgers from his wrecking yard business that I used for recording class lists and assignments; my uncle gave me old worksheets from his teaching days that I kept in a briefcase and 'corrected' with a red pencil. When my younger cousin was around and later when my sister was old enough, I volunteered them to be my real-live students. We (I) loved every minute of playing School.

I envision my serious face as I studied stacks of teen-girl magazines, applying my rudimentary understanding of subliminal messages and reverse psychology and propaganda tactics. I was determined to resist the pull of Popular Fashion, at least in the sense that I would not be consumed by it; I attempted edgy style with fake military medals on my denim jacket, I bought EPs of The Cult and The Smiths, and I joined Amnesty International. Though I still secretly wanted Normandy Rose jeans, leather Nikes, and hair that could hold a decent curl, if only for just one day.

I revisit the solid certainty I felt in my whole 19-year-old being as I solemnly watched thirtysomething every week, vowing I would become one of those smart, hip adults with smart, hip friends and a smart, hip career. I would design advertisements with a conscience, I would lead people to make intelligent choices, I would change the world for the better. I would be real.

And now, I am a mother not of a wily canine but of two wondrous children; occasionally I run through weeds with them and let them rip things for fun; I've also been known to lock them out of my room, but they do have their own books to mess with.

Now I set up desks in not-so-straight (yet always orderly) rows and real students make up my class lists, but I never use red pencils. I (we) love most minutes of School.

Now I am pretty confident in my analysis of advertising, even when I succumb to its nefarious ploys and buy things I know I don't need. Yet I am never too proud to find my fashions & furnishings at garage sales and thrift stores, in fact I am a zealot about recycling, reusing, and repurposing.  My life is nothing if not conscientious; I am all about changing the world for the better whenever I can. Which leads to my final youthful aspiration - to be smart and hip, with smart, hip friends and a smart, hip career.

Done, done, and done, if I do say so myself.

And I feel real.