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Saturday, December 18, 2010

JLG

The first of at least three I claim as "MY Mrs. G."

I first met her in Kindergarten. I had been held back a year in preschool because of going off medication. The preschool teacher was the wife of the principal at the elementary school (how small town… but it was L.A.!), and she took the time to teach me what I would need to know to go straight into first grade.

Mrs. G. Had the "joy" of testing me for three days to see if I was really ready for first grade. I was :). I remember she had to keep pulling me back into focus, because I was not interested in the testing, I wanted to be at recess with the other kids!

After moving on to first grade, I still saw Mrs. G. everyday because she was the teacher that worked in the cafeteria before school and at lunch. She used to get so frustrated with me because I was always the last child eating.

Not sure how it happened that my mother got her to babysit me in the second grade, when mother was making too much money for the state to cover the cost of after school care for me. But she watched me until her younger daughter got home from school to babysit :). Everyday I got a full column of Ritz crackers and a glass of kool-aid for my snack. I was allowed to watch tv for, I think, one episode if Scooby Doo, then I had to do my homework before I could do anything else… a lesson in time management and priorities.

During that year I learned she had a first name! And what it was!! When I started calling her by her first name at home, she didn't mind, but at school it was not OK. She explained it was a matter of respect. "What's respect?", I asked

"Showing me respect is how you let other people know you like me."

Pretty basic explanation, but it made enough sense to me, that I still can't bring myself to call her by her first name.

I always felt (and still feel) welcome and at home in their home. I know I felt respected, my opinion mattered… she let me decide every night if I wanted to have dinner with them, or wait for my mother. If it was chili I ALWAYS ate with them, other nights it depended on what the options were :). My mother gave her permission to spank me at home or school, wherever needed whenever needed (IF needed)… she told me once she wouldn't spank me, I never (that I remember) tested her on that. I know if I had been rebellious enough against her to get discipline, it would have broke my heart. She gained my love and respect in such a great way, I was eager to please her.

I remember being six or seven imagining my life being different … she had told me two things 1) she wanted to be done having her own children by age 30, and 2) aside from me she didn't like any kids younger than me (I am certain that changed when she became a grandma lol). Well, she was 33 years older than me. I had recently heard the story of Moses in Sunday School… so I imagined in my mind how it might be possible, that Mrs. G. really was my mom, but since I was born three years later than when she wanted kids, they gave me up for adoption, with the condition that the mother stay near by and allow them to be my caregivers when she needed one…

A far out story from the active imagination of a child who knew love when she experienced it. I think my mother loved me as best she knew how, I'm just not sure she really knew how…

Some of my favorite memories of Mrs. G. are the times she would reminisce about her childhood… the look on her face, in her eye… she was there describing what she saw like it was happening right before her eyes… the joy those memories brought to her made her beautiful, radiant…

After we moved to the other end of town and back, one of the first things I did was reconnect with My G's. I spent a lot of time hanging out at their house, a safe place in my miserable life… when the schools in our area went year-round, she encouraged me to volunteer as her helper when I was "off track". I was glad to do it! Not only was is more time with her, but the kids were fun (except for the one that bit me!) and it was an excuse my stepfather would allow for me to not be at home…

Just before we moved to YV Mrs. G. took me out for a day… a memory maker. We went to the mall and just spent the day together. It was a great memory, made me feel loved, like I would be missed :)

Mrs. G. taught me lots about letting kids know they are loved, the importance of showing respect and how wonderful it is to know "the door is always open"… to know what it's like to always be welcome in a place…

I want to have that kind of spirit… a welcoming, loving-ness to my home that gives others that confidence- that they are welcome

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