I can’t believe my third grade teacher did that! I was old, a third grader. I did not belong back with the young kids in first grade! I could not sleep that night. I was so upset at Mrs. Mannix for doing this. I needed my mother to become a hero for me.
Childhood memories. We each have them. If someone asked you to share five childhood memories that are meaningful to you, no more and no less, what would you share? Are they good memories? How did each impact your life? How has each memory motivated you in the life you have lived since?
Now, back to my story...
We were living in Lansing, Michigan while I was in second grade and my parents decided to spend the next year in Nigeria while my father studied African languages. He was a professor in African studies at Michigan State at the time and this would assist him in his teaching.
So we went to Nigeria for a year. I was living in a land far, far away for third grade. After lunch each day we would lay on the floor on our mats and have rest period. My teacher had me, little Ricky, put my mat directly in front of her desk. I assume she put me close to her for a reason.
Well, one day I learned that if I rocked my body back and forth on my mat I could get my stomach to make a sloshing sound, which I thought was kind of clever. So I did this and smiled at the sound it made while my classmates laughed.
Well, Mrs. Mannix did not think it was funny. Upset, she had me stand up, took me by the hand, and walked me outside to the first grade class having recess. She told me if I was going to act like a first grader, then I needed to be put with the first graders.
She then left me. I couldn’t believe it. I was a third grader, not a first grader. I was too old for these young kids. I had to spend the rest of the afternoon with kids I did not know, much younger and shorter than me. It was the longest afternoon of my life at the time, being with strangers I didn’t belong with.
My mother picked me up after class and I was a wreck. I told her what Mrs. Mannix did and that I was once again a first grader. I told my mother that I was going to be so embarrassed when we went back to Michigan next year because I would be two years behind all my friends. They would be in fourth grade and I would be in second grade. I asked my mother to visit with Mrs. Mannix and see if she could get me back in third grade when school started in the morning.
Well, the next day came and I was the most anxious child in Nigeria as my mother talked to my teacher and asked her if there was any way I could be put back in third grade. My mother came through! She was successful in getting me back with my third grade classmates. She was my super hero!!!
I must of learned from this because, after third grade, I was never put back with a class younger than me again for the rest of my youth.
Each of you reading this has had a childhood. It doesn’t take much reflection to think back on events that happened growing up. None of us has had the exact same journey although we all have had common experiences.
Some of you have had a childhood of overcoming circumstances beyond your control.
Some of you reading this are educators who have created events that have become good or bad memories in the lives of the children you have taught.
It is interesting to think that Mrs. Mannix, a month after my incident, probably did not even remember what she did that day with me. Nevertheless, 55 years later I am sharing our story.
With the stories you have learned from, do you take time to share them with your family? Have you ever written down unique experiences that have shaped your life?
Each of us have stories that have led us to where we are on life’s journey today. Let me return to my earlier question, what five stories from your youth have impacted your life the most?
Now let me flip this. You have created stories in lives you have impacted. Individuals you have interacted with in the past are telling stories that involve you. What are they saying? Stories you have forgotten are being remembered by others.
Those of you parenting children at home are directly creating stories in their lives. It is impossible to teach and equip a young mind to handle the world and their lives ahead without teaching them lessons.
There are things you will do in the future that will be tucked away in the minds of others while you forget them and go on with your life.
My challenge to you today is twofold. First, share stories with others from the journey you have walked. Create a setting with family where stories are told. Our stories need to be passed on. And listen carefully to others’ stories. Over the history of mankind, with all the inventions that we are distracted by, storytelling is more difficult today that it has ever been.
Second, understand that you are a part of other people’s stories. You come into their lives for a season and then they move on. Be intentional about how you interact with others in the days and years ahead.
You will be a Mrs. Mannix in the lives of others. She created a lesson in my life and then she moved on forgetting about what happened when I was a third grader. Yet her lesson in my life remains.
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to email@example.com:firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.
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