Of Pelicans and Playstations

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Life, storytelling, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In the early 1960’s, only trashy girls moved to the big city to go to art school. Nice girls studied to be beauticians, secretaries, nurses or teachers. That’s what the mother told her daughter when the girl announced that she wanted to leave their small Midwestern town to go to the Twin Cities and study art. So instead the girl moved to a different big city and became a secretary.

At the same time, thousands of miles away in the South, a father was telling his son that he wasn’t going to spend any money sending him to college to study music but instead the son could have a fulfilling career working for a local car dealership. So the boy joined the Air Force.

Encouragement and opportunity; my parents each had one but not the other. They made it a point to give my older sister and I both. They didn’t push us in any particular direction, but if we were interested in doing something creative, they did what they could to give us the chance to try. We learned art, dance and music. Took trips to the public library, museums and exhibits. Read books. Thought, wondered, explored. Our family wasn’t rich by any means; my parents made what sacrifices they thought necessary to make sure we knew there were opportunities in the world to be creative and that everybody had the right to take advantage of them.

I don’t have any kids (aside from the 46-year-old husband and two delinquent dogs I’m raising) but I have great nieces and nephews. The two youngest, who are 8 and 12, and their parents were just here for the weekend. We have several visits a year and from the time the kids were small, I’ve tried to share with them the joys of creativity. And I think it’s paying off. Throughout the three days they were here, we did the popular kid stuff like go-kart racing, miniature golf, and giving my husband’s Playstation a workout. But the oldest also gifted us with a drawing she’d done of a fancy dancer at a pow wow, something she aspires to try. And the youngest asked if he could record his voice speaking into the microphone that hooks to my laptop. There was a trip to the Discovery Center, the local children’s science museum. The eldest sat down at the desktop computer and wrote a pretty decent short story about trolls. The youngest took note of the origami pelicans I’d practiced making and asked if I would teach him how to make them, which I did. And when they left, it was with the promise that they would come for Halloween (my favorite holiday) and help us decorate the yard and record creepy voices to scare the neighborhood kids.

I have no more idea of what my niece and nephew will grow up to be than they do right now. But whatever it is, I hope that I helped to provide, even in a small measure, encouragement and opportunity when they needed it. And that when they have the chance to pass that along to someone else, they’ll do it.

  1. Don’t forget all the encouragement you’ve given us who aren’t even related to you! You are very encouraging and supportive. Your post got me thinking about my aunt who had to move heaven and earth to get her folks to allow her to move away to art school, but missed the admission deadline. She ended up having a pretty interesting life, but never made it to art school, though she works art and craft into about everything she does. Good post! I look forward to hearing of your kin’s future achievements!

    • Trust me, we’re related. Maybe not in the technical sense, but we are. Definitely need to meet this aunt of yours sometime. And thank YOU for all the support and encouragement over these many years.

  2. reneeweatherbee.com says:

    Your nieces and nephews will have lots of treasured memories of spending time with you. You’ve encouraged me with your kind words about my writings and I can’t tell you how much it has meant, coming from a professional. I am working on being more encouraging to others. I have learned from watching Joel Osteen that often we have no idea how much even just a few kind words or a smile can really change the course of someone’s day, sometimes even their life. It’s a big responsiblity to really realize this and grasp how a positive or negative expression can have such a powerful effect on others.
    Having just arrived in Virginia a week ago, I was so relieved to see that things seemed different this time (lived here for 6 months in 2008). People seemed more relaxed, more friendly and I hadn’t heard anyone honking their horns at others (my biggest complaint from my last time here). However, yesterday, I pulled out of our driveway of our new home onto a two lane road. I saw a car 1/2 a mile away and had plenty of time. However, since we live only a block from the intersection, I didn’t excelerate much. This man in the car behind me layed on his horn for the whole 1/2 a block. I got very nervous. After proceeding through the interseciton, the guy sped past me flipping me off. My husband warned me not to let it upset me. I drove on to our destination, pulled into a parking lot and just started sobbing. We talked about how sad and miserable that guy must be to get that frustrated and get so annoyed over something like me not going fast enough for him. His action ruined my day, because I let it. Later that night, I prayed for the man, because I couldn’t stop thinking what a miserable life he must have and his wife, if he has one. So my point is, I hope I can work on watching what I do and say to others, so that I never have a negative impact on their day and it is my hope that I can find a way to encourage as many as I can.
    Thanks, kellie!

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