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An Ode to Childhood

Stopping to consider the importance of teaching, being humbled by my own insecurities and remembering a past that I seek to never forget.

My most vivid memories are from back when I was in early elementary. Sure, I remember other times in my life, but for some reason these years stick out to me most.

Maybe because they were the “glory” years filled with rampant imaginative play where lunch and recess were the most important “subjects” in my life. The clarity with which I can bring to life some moments … like the time I used to make snail homes on the sidewalk out of grass complete with little rooms and mounds of dirt for them to eat … or when my brother and I would make little campsites out of pillows, sleeping bags, and whatever else we could get our hands on … spending time outside with friends catching bugs and going on “creature adventures” like the Kratt brothers … sneaking around at nighttime with walkie-talkies and “spy gear” from Toys R Us …

Or maybe because they were the years of “discovery” when I wasn’t afraid to experiment and try new things regardless of how embarrassing.

Like the time I farted out loud during class … or when I stole candy from the Albertsons and stashed it in my closet … joined ballet for a friend and wore tights to school … took on a dare from a neighbor and showed her my little “boy-parts” at around the same time her dad decided to peek outside the door and check up on us … climbing trees to find birds nests and falling … throwing goldfish crackers into jacuzzi bubble to watch them “swim” … seriously the list goes on and on. Everything about that time in my life brings back a swell of nostalgia. Having contests with friends on the blacktop before school trying to see who could stare at the sun the longest … eating the pepperonis off of all my friends’ pizzas during lunch … calling a teacher fat …

Looking back, I realize now that of course stupid is still stupid, but I was happy. Confident. Fearless. The world I lived in was one of my own choosing.

Somewhere between then and now though, I have somehow lost this feeling of self-awareness and instead have developed a heightened sense of self-consciousness. Situations that used to once excite me now make me nervous. I’m afraid to stand out. Gone are the days when I would go door to door looking for kids to play with. Invite every friend I had in my apartment complex over for my birthday. Wear matching Space Jam shirt and pants. Rock the bowl cut with no regrets. Play Sega all day trying to beat the same levels over and over. Image has taken over and what other people think has become king. Even now I can’t help but consider the reader while writing … It has gotten to the point where I can’t help but notice the energy being exerted to please.

One of the reasons I love teaching lower elementary so much is because it takes me back to a time that I never want to forget.

It reminds me of me when I was them. The energy. The life. The spirit. The not caring or really giving a shit. Teaching this week has helped solidify my belief that working with kids makes me a better person. They teach me to care more about things that matter and less about the things that don’t. They help me see adventure in every day life. There is a scene in the film Hook where the grown up Peter Pan (Robin Williams) remembers how to fly. For some reason, it brings me close to tears every time.  A part of me wishes that I too could remember how to fly …

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2 Comments

  1. maria phelps

    Clarence, I love this entry!! It’s good to read of your adventure and your growing.
    Maria Phelps

  2. lcono8

    If we can return to that child-state-of-mind, we too can be free, fearless and truly happy in this life. Thank you for this post and for our educational discussions yesterday at Jessica’s family’s restaurant

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