What is my 10 out of 10? I ask this question because this is what Lisa has asked of us this week for her Bite Size Memoir challenge. In celebration of her tenth ‘bite’ prompt (somehow I’ve manage eight of them!), Lisa has asked us to share something, anything, be it something special we’ve achieved, a special trait we might excel at, even some sort of trivia.
Finding it hard to come up with something, I went back to my school days for inspiration and remembered the tiny village school in Suffolk that I attended after my parents split up.
Once the old headmistress left (and yes, I did feel the whack of her ruler on my knuckles once or twice), a new, young headmaster took over. He transformed the place, lifting us fun-starved kids out of the Victorian age and into the modern 1970’s: we had guitar lessons, gymnastics, country dancing, art, drama and field trips to France. I thrived there and amazingly, passed my 11-plus.
Then I thought of many years later when I was ready to re-enter the workforce after being a full-time mum for twelve years (meaning: I was employed but not getting paid, at least not in dollars).
We had already owned a computer for a few years by that time, and of course the kids had taken to it like a dog with a bone. Although I had one up on them by being able to touch type (and I did know how to turn the thing on), I struggled with a lot of the applications.
So, I did what any mother would: I asked the kids for help. Big mistake that. Their response was to grab the mouse out of my hand with more than a hint of impatience and after whizzing it around the desk at light speed, a few taps on the keyboard and a couple of clicks later, job done. Sorted. Leaving me utterly confused.
“Errr…thanks….but what did you just do? Exactly? Can you do that again please, this time slowly and show me step by step?”
Sighs, huffs and puffs. “No time, sorry Mom, gotta dash! Just click on that tab I showed you, you’ll get it!”
And then those famous, parting words:
So, I took matters into my own hands and signed up to a computer course at our local community college for Word 2000 & Desktop Publishing. I was really nervous the first day, going back to ‘school’, but I had so much fun and learnt all I needed to help give me the step-up to start job-hunting.
The biggest challenge for me though was to come: about half way through the course, our tutor announced that our final examination would be a PowerPoint presentation of something we had learnt and then present it to the entire class.
When I heard that, my blood turned to ice in my veins. What? Stand up in front of the class and speak? Surely not. I hadn’t heard right. And anyway, I knew absolutely nothing about PowerPoint. When I had a private word with the tutor after class she must have noticed that all the blood had drained out of my face as she offered me a chair to sit on while calmly explaining that it would be fine, not to worry. After all, and those words, again, it would be easy!
I worried right up until the end of term. I chose ‘How to Make a Table of Contents‘ for my presentation and sure enough, the day came. With racing heart and hands shaking, I found, to my utter amazement, that as I began my PowerPoint slide show, my nerves calmed down and by the time I had finished it I realised that I had actually really enjoyed it. A lot. Even better, I got an A.
But what I learnt that day about myself and facing up to our fears (and public speaking is a huge one my friends!) was that I had created something all on my own and then got to share it. Sound familiar?
Years later I made slide shows on my laptop using Windows Media for each of my children for their special birthdays, putting photographs to music. When I was in the midst of creating these slide shows, they took me hours and hours, stretched out over days, weeks, and a lot of other things went by the wayside. A precursor for blogging I would say!
But I was in my stride, in my element. I was creating, and then I was sharing what I had created with those I love, something personal, something durable, a part of me.
Which brings me to this ‘bite’. This isn’t strictly a memoir about something I’ve achieved in that this is a little story about my middle boy Nicky. One or two of you already ‘know’ him, but for my new blogging friends, I first introduced him last autumn, with his full permission, when I wrote about his comeback from a horrendous break up from his girlfriend and posted a clip of his music in, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’: My Son’s Way Back.’
My finest achievements are my children so I share this story in their honour as my 10 out of 10, although the ‘prize’ actually belongs to my son. Bear in mind, Nicky was only four when this happened and he has no idea why he said what he did, but we think he got it from watching an episode of Top Cat. We laugh about it to this day.
(Incidentally, this little story was my first ever published piece in a magazine!)
Here then is my bite size memoir, in 150 words, no more, no less! (I love saying that!):
Welcome To Kindergarten
When my middle boy Nicky was due to start Kindergarten, he had to attend a brief assessment with his teacher.
I sat a little way behind him so as not to distract them and all went well. When it finished and before we left, the teacher then asked:
“Now Nicholas, I notice that your mom calls you Nicky. This year, we will have two Nicholas’s in your class, so what would you like to be called? Nicky or Nick?”
I watched my son as he fidgeted and then looked up at the ceiling as if for inspiration.
After a few moments, with me wondering what he was doing, he obviously had the answer he was looking for. With a flourish of determination, he looked straight at the teacher and without batting an eyelid answered:
“Just call me boss!”
I don’t know who was more shocked – me or the teacher.