Tag Archives: spunk

You’re Going to Miss Me When I Move to China

One summer, a sweet little camper found his way into my heart. He was one of the littlest campers. He didn’t talk much. He did like to flex his muscles (literally) quite regularly and smile that awkward 4 year old smile. Truthfully, if it weren’t for what he said to me on his second to last day at camp, I don’t know that I would remember him so well.

 

It went something like this:

Me: Good morning!

Camper: You’re going to miss me when I move to China.

Me: (confused pause)… yeah, bud, I guess I will…

Camper: Yup! (runs off to play)

 

On his last day of camp I mentioned the conversation to his dad. His dad replied, “Oh yeah, we are moving this weekend.”

 

That was the last I saw of the little camper, and you know what? He was right. I miss him.

 

This summer, a preschooler was here for the summer. Guess where he went back to? China, you guessed? Close, Singapore. But still, this little student made me think of my little camper.

 

Some of my camp friends and I will tell each other, “You’re going to miss me when I move to China.” It is a silly way of telling each other that we miss the other person.

 

I may even be guilty of having said it once or twice to non-camp people when really what I should have said was, “I am going to miss you when you leave.” I then find myself having to explain my absurd declaration.

 

I don’t generally rock at expressing my emotions, especially those vulnerable and tender ones, like goodbyes, because sometimes goodbyes are difficult. Usually goodbyes are difficult. I think they are especially challenging when they are the kind of goodbyes we say at the end of summer camp, or really any short lived but deeply loved relationship. It is hard to say, “this was brief, but you ended up meaning so much to me, we might never see each other again, we might even forget about each other, but right now, in this moment, I don’t have to words to tell you how important you are, and I wish I could pause time for just a little bit, I am not sure I am ready to say good-bye.”

 

So instead I might say, “You’re going to miss me when I move to China.”

 

No words for that good bye, just a long hug at the end of summer
No words for this good-bye, just a long hug at the end of summer

 

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An Egg Cup Makes A Very Good Hat

I love books. No, seriously, you don’t understand. I. Love. Books.

Sometimes I think the only reason I became an English teacher was so that I would have an excuse to further my book hoarding habit There are stacks of books stashed all over my old room (or more accurately, every room I ever inhabited in Mom & Dad’s house) as well as the boxes in the garage. I know I will go back for them one day. I miss them almost as much as my family (good books are like family).

My book hoarding got so bad, that about 4 years ago I banned myself from buying books unless they fell into one of the following categories:

1. teaching books that could live in my classroom

2. books for my classroom library, also to live in my classroom

(both of these categories are now in boxes not in a classroom)

3. books that were a gift for someone, therefore I wouldn’t keep it

4. books I wanted so badly I would give away two books to make room on my self for the new book…this never actually happened

Sometimes I have to avoid bookstores because I fear it would be akin to falling off the wagon. But one day, I will have all my books that I currently own in one place and I will have space for more books. (Yes this flies in the face of my desire to have less stuff.)

In the mean time I try to pick the books I “need” with me the most and leave the rest in storage.

I doubt I could ever really pick ONE favorite book. I can pick favorite people, movies, places, and colors (purple, olive green, brown, orange, in that order). But never a book.

If I was forced to though…like I could save humanity by picking one book…maybe, just maybe I could.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I picked some great, life enhancing, deep, intellectual book? Some book that crosses age, gender, and cultural lines? Wouldn’t that make me seem impressive? Wouldn’t it make family proud? I would like to think that I would do that. But that is way too much pressure, and just not realistic. I wouldn’t even pick based on the idea that it would be the only book I could read for the rest of my life. If I did that I would try to pick something I could re-read and gain new meaning from (like the Bible or an anthology or something). No, I am not that noble nor evolved.

I would have to pick a book based on my favorite character. Eloise.

You know, Eloise, of Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown Ups by Kay Thompson.

If you don’t know Eloise, let me introduce you. She is six. She lives in the Plaza Hotel. She lives with Nanny her nanny, Skipperdee her turtle, and Weenie her dog. The original Eloise books were published in the 50s. I once read that it made both the children and adult best seller lists.

eloise
I remember Grandma reading me Eloise, I always think of her when I see anything Eloise. Mom read it me doing voices, she does a pretty convincing British accent for Nanny. I remember laying on my floor in the warm afternoon sunlight reading it all by myself. I remember visiting Eloise when I was six (just like her) at the Plaza.

There are plenty of people out there who slam Eloise in reviews. They call her spoiled, appalling, sad, rich, bratty, over indulged, the pity her. I don’t pity Eloise. I don’t care that some people see her as an “abandoned orphan” or “an undisciplined child clearly suffering from ADHD and desperate for attention.” I love her for her innocence. She has no idea her world isn’t all that it could be. She makes the most of what it actually is. She is a great example of kids repeating the things they hear grown ups say and of finding magic and wonder in the world around her. I will admit it, I wouldn’t want my future children to have Eloise’s life. I wouldn’t want them to be raised by a nanny in a hotel, interacting almost exclusively with adults. I wouldn’t want them to run down the halls dragging a stick along the wall. But what I do want for them is exactly what made me fall in love with Eloise in the first place: precociousness, imagination, strength, creativity, and tenacity.

Anyone who knows that “Kleenex makes a very good hat” and that “toe shoes make very good ears” (they do, I tried it the day I got my first pair) is someone I want to hang out with. And after reading her declaration that “an egg cup makes a very good hat,” I wanted to own an egg cup. I still would like to own an egg cup (in case you ever need to get me something unique just because).

toe shoe earsShe is funny. Bratty at times, but don’t we all have our moments? She has a thirst for adventure I wish I was brave enough to posses. Her sense of self exceeds that of most adults I know. She is a strong female character (not without faults, but that makes her more likable), which only impresses me more considering she was first dreamed up in the late 40’s and then published in the mid 50’s AND she was loved the day she hit the shelves.

The copy I have is well loved now. The page with the elevator ride that I poured over tracing and retracing her route is nearly falling apart. There is water damage from some brief time it spent in storage. The dust jacket has tears. I have thought about replacing it. Well, just buying a new copy, I would struggle to get rid of my first one. But remember that book ban? I do allow myself to buy eBooks sometimes. An eBook just wouldn’t work though. You couldn’t unfold that elevator page…you can’t hug the book against you…it just wouldn’t be the same.

So even though it is a children’s book, arguably for adults, and even though it isn’t life changing, it is the book I am going to choose. If, in order to save humanity I was forced to choose one book, I think I would choose Eloise. I love it. You don’t have to, but I kinda hope you do.

 

I was in NYC last year, and I had to go see her again.
I was in NYC last year, and I had to go see her again.

Princesses

Dad calls me his princess. Mom thinks this has gone to my head. One of my dearest friends once a whined, “why am I not a princess?!” (She had just watched the royal wedding). I ran the princess half marathon.

 

What’s up with our princess thing? I recently took an internet quiz to find out how much of a Disney princess I was. I scored somewhere in the middle. This didn’t surprise me. But it did spark a conversation with two friends about our favorite princesses. You see, even though I am an adult and even though I would like to think I am not that girly, I love animated chick centered movies. I love most animated movies really. But guess what, my favorite female characters aren’t princesses. Mulan, Meg, and Princess Tiger Lily…even though it’s in her name she doesn’t count as an official princess.

 

The greatest gift and honor... is having you for a daughter.
The greatest gift and honor… is having you for a daughter.

Mulan is amazing. She has both parents (major deviation), who seem to be pretty decent, and they don’t even get killed off. Her grandma is a spitfire. Remember the part: “Do you want to stay for dinner?” “Do you want to stay forever?” There are a few songs from the movie I will belt out shamelessly, yeah total non sequitur. She saves her country. She doesn’t have magic or need a man (she likes a man, but they end up working together more than she depends on him to save her). She defies everyone and stands up to gender restrictions (as best she can) to do what she believes is right. She is the best. But she is not a princess.

 

Thanks for everything, Herc. It's been a real slice.
Thanks for everything, Herc. It’s been a real slice.

Meg. I mean come on folks, any woman who says, “I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day.” is worth admiring. She also has a few songs I belt out with regularity (in fact it might be part of my running mix, my pre-date getting ready mix, really every mix). Meg doesn’t have a family. She makes a series of poor decisions, but hey, she can handle it. She reluctantly falls in love with a demigod. Let’s skip the whole part of the actual mythology where Hercules ends up killing her. The movie Meg has spunk, she is a well created character, especially considering she isn’t that well-developed in mythology. Meg may not be the perfect example of healthy attachment, she has her guard way up, but eventually she is willing to let Herc into her life. I think she is great, she ties her own sandals and everything.

 

She doesn’t needs lines, she says it all right here.

Princess Tiger Lily. I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched Peter Pan. And I don’t even remember if she has a single line in the whole movie. But what I do remember is the way she stood there with her chin in the air, in a brave and defiant posture. And the way she danced, she was really dancing, not just flitting around. Those two postures stick out for me. I’ve always liked her.

 

Bravery. Confidence. The ability to stand on her own two feet. No magical powers of her own. No wimpy distress for a man. In fact they are all willing to make sacrifices for their friends and/or family not to just be a damsel in distress. They are regular bad ass gals.

 

These are the ladies I like best. But they don’t “count” as princesses. I guess this shouldn’t really matter, but it makes me mad. Sure, there are other things about the “real princesses” that I like, Belle is an avid reader, Ariel has beautiful curiosity, but there are a lot of things about them that make me cringe, helplessness, making absurd sacrifices for guys (yeah I am talking about you Ariel and Pocahontas), and the like. Sure there are some newer princesses that are okay. I guess my bigger issue is with the whole “princess thing.” Sure it is fun to play and imagine. I have no qualms with Dad calling me his princess, nor with girls who make-believe or even wish they were princesses. It does seem to have some perks, and hey we all want to be special. But why do the princesses we offer as models have to be so…well…lame?