I had this blog post in my head. It sounded good but it sounded like, well, a “blog post.” It didn’t sound like “me.” Today is Teacher Appreciation Day at my daughter’s school and all I could think about was my favorite teacher in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, my second grade teacher Mrs. Veeda Caine (no lie. I love that woman. I dedicated my book to her and wrote her letter WELL into my adult years. If you have her email address, holler at me). I wanted to share how she changed my life, because she did. She really did (I’m sorry….pause right here because this is SUPER emotional for me). I don’t know who I would have become if she had not simultaneously loved me, cared me for me and pushed me (she just would NOT let me live with that “C” in handwriting. It’s why my handwriting rocks right now), I may have fallen in the shadows of what I saw as my complicated life at seven. And it felt complicated.
I remember, clearly, the “experiment” we did when we kept a caterpillar in a container and watched it go through the cocoon phase and then released it into a butterfly. I seem to recall the butterfly not quite being ready to go. That’s how I felt when I left her. I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay with her forever. I wanted Mrs. Caine to be my teacher for the rest of my life. She made me feel safe. She made me feel wanted. She made me feel less weird. The funny thing is, after I became an adult, my mom told me I was supposed to skip the second grade. I’m so glad I didn’t. God knew.
I’d like to think Mrs. Caine affects the way I teach my classes. We celebrate birthdays (all my folks from room 127 will remember how special it was to have birthday cover draped over the back of your chair. And even those of us who had summer birthdays got a little glory before the end of the year). We celebrating all cultures(Amy was Jewish and so we learned about Hanukkah and celebrated it). We were made to feel special. We got to play creative games that she had made up out of old Wet Wipe containers or something and she always pushed us, gently to go to the next level, ESPECIALLY whens she knew we could do it. Oh how I was SO upset at her for giving me that check mark in “exercises self control” because I “wasn’t” a talker. It was out of character for me. Let me tell you, I never got another one. I never got another “C” in handwriting either.
When I teach my classes, I believe there are so many caterpillars in there, wrapped up in their cocoons, waiting to be set free. While they don’t need me to breathe magic on them, sometimes it’s helpful if they hear me come along side them and say, “You CAN fly. I believe you CAN fly. I’m going to WATCH you fly. It’s TIME for you to fly.” And off they go. Sometimes people need to hear their language or feel like someone understands them, like Amy, and it’s why people can relate to me. I know how it is to struggle with my weight. I know what it’s like to hear a great salsa song and want to break out or hear some good bass and want to drop down low or get into some Whitney Houston or Sade and go completely into my feelings and forget about the stress of my day. I know what it’s like to feel like dancing is all I have when the world is so heavy on my shoulders. I love playing peoples’ favorite songs on their birthdays or doing party dances around them or celebrating their return after an illness or business trip (does anybody remember the chicken pox epidemic that year? Good grief. Did ALL of us get it or what?)
It took me 30 minutes to look for my second grade class picture which someone had posted on Facebook and I didn’t find it. I thought Mrs. Caine (wherever she is) would be more happy to see a picture of me now, doing what I do (12 years of magnet school, two degrees and over 20 plus certifications later), knowing her belief in me and her example follows me wherever I go. I love you, Lady!!! 🙂
Who was your favorite teacher? What lesson did you learn from them that affects how you operate in the world today?
Our winner for the Now Foods giveaway (chosen by Random.org) is Dana!!! Congratulations!!! Please email me at hiphealthychick.com to claim your prize!