Thursday, April 17, 2014

teaching your children to improvise

gosh, just watched a talk by a woman raised on dr. spock. hah, that was me. my mother didn't know how to boil eggs when she go married, seriously. and she said i was a 'book baby' and there was one tome. 'leave them to cry alone, sleeping in their own room. this teaches independence.' one night, when i was less than one, i wouldn't stop crying. my mother found me with the blanket wrapped around my neck and my face blue. no wonder i had my first asthma attack when she died.

and they used to have corporal punishment in school. a principal paddled me with board full of drilled holes in front of the fifth grade class and then promoted me into the sixth, where i spent a year being embarrassed by my faux pas, critically behind everyone else. here's a picture of that time, and of course i had a terrible crush on the blond in the middle of the second row, judy wyrick. sixty years later i even remember her name.

i did move thirty times by the end of high school, including several traumatic indiana months with two of my father's brothers, one a suave alcoholic, the other a boy who went away to college for one semester, to return home and live with his parents the rest of his life. one of them even got called into the school office because of the way i combed my hair: duck tail, 1956. i know i drove those uncles crazy, at the same time the constant pressure from the drunk changed me into a more furtive character. my mother said the transformation made her cry, and i never recovered.

the lecturer above showed the modern parents' bookstore shelf of advice. amazing, how to teach your kids to live on spinach, to be the best they can be, to not hide in the closet during class so you can listen to the chatter, invisible, and stick presents of gum and candy into the hanging coat-pocket of the girl you loved. (fourth grade). in other words, parents don't have a clue, not what the future will bring or how to prepare their children for it.

ironically, the speaker rejected at the very beginning what kids really, really  need: how to improvise. for better or worse, i had to do a lot of it, and i still enjoy it: travelling, writing, photography, creating art pieces. and i suppose i arranged my life to have time for it. were i growing up now, i'd be inevitably be attracted to a tech profession. hah, done that, tried that. mother said i could take things apart and more remarkably put them back together. "you want to be a writer but you have to make a living. try engineering." that first year of college (Valparaiso University) one of the most bizarre i ever had

in the end i realized i'd never get through college if i didn't study literature, transferred to california. luckily, it was cheap, 46$ a semester. no, i didn't leave a hundred thousand dollars in debt. at eleven i'd visited my first fire lookout. how that stuck, i don't know, but i wanted to sit alone on top of the world and talk to everyone in it on a ham radio, as that fellow did. it worked out, not quite by accident, but mostly. i lept to improvise. my suggestion: train your children in it.