Families are the best thing that ever happened to children. How wonderful for these tiny angelic presents we receive, our babies, to arrive into a constellation of people who are related to each other by love and who will devote so much of themselves to the new lives for so long.
As our babies grow older, we begin to initiate them into our own individual family rituals. One way we communicate our family values and history is through our stories. We all have them, stories about ourselves, about our parents, our grandparents, and even further back to perhaps our ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower or our great-great grandparents who entered at Ellis Island. Whatever the trails, we acquaint our children with our collective past through story telling.
I, too, have such stories which I’ve told not only to my own children, but also to many of your children. The stories I have shared with your children are called, “The Stories of Uncle Lloyd.” Uncle Lloyd was the oldest of my mother’s brothers and sisters and became the center of my stories for one reason. He lived a most unfortunate life of bad luck and almost by happenstance, bad choices. The moral of the totality of these stories is simple – and I tell the children – whenever you think things are going badly for you in your life and you’re feeling really blue, just think of Uncle Lloyd and all of his troubles and you will see that your troubles aren’t as bad as his were.
When Uncle Lloyd started first grade, he was so excited. He went to school on the first day and was all ready to be a first grader. But because it was a one room school house with only one teacher filled with children from grades one through eight, the teacher announced that she couldn’t teach all eight grades. So that year she would teach second, fourth, sixth, and eighth grades. Lloyd raised his hand and told her that he was a first grader, to which she replied that he would have to take second grade this year. He found second grade very difficult because he was the youngest in the class and since he hadn’t been in first grade the year before, he didn’t know how to read or do numbers. He felt pretty dumb even though he wasn’t. But he tried his best and managed to finish his work each day. Then when the next school year came, he was ready to be a second grader and felt he knew what would be happening. But on the first day of school the teacher announced that she was going to teach first, third, fifth, and seventh grades that year. Lloyd raised his hand and told her that he had done second grade last year. She replied that he hadn’t ever done first grade so this year he would do first grade. Well, Lloyd was glad to receive the reading lessons he had missed the year before, but again he felt a little dumb to be put back a year. When the next school year rolled around, Lloyd was again disappointed when the teacher announced that she would be teaching second, fourth, sixth, and eighth grades and he’d have to do fourth grade. Lloyd told her that he hadn’t done third grade yet, but it didn’t matter. There he was again a grade ahead of himself, feeling like he wasn’t as smart as the other kids who had done third grade the last year.
School continued on this out of order way for Lloyd, always having to take the wrong grade in school, until he completed seventh grade after having already done eighth grade. He’d had his fill of school and their treatment of him, so at the tender age of 14, without telling his mother or his father, he did what a 14-year-old could do in those days – he quit school.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you what he did then and how his life was affected by that decision.
Now it’s your turn to get cozy with your children and tell them some of your family stories. I bet they’ll love them!
Director/Elementary 1 Teacher