Take Ten Seconds

A friend just shared on Facebook a video of Mr. Rogers accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 1997. In his acceptance speech, the beloved Mr. Rogers asks if everyone will take “just 10 seconds to think about the people who have helped you become who you are…the ones who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.” And he silently keeps time on his watch…just ten seconds to think of the people who helped you become who you are. You can see a clip here.

I loved Mr. Rogers. It’s no secret. My friends have known that for years. In Pittsburgh a few years ago, I forced everyone in my party to visit the Heinz History Center to see the Mr. Rogers exhibit…some of the pieces from his television show. I was happy. I looked at all of it and thought how much my little girl self would have loved to see it all in person back in the 1970s. Mr. Rogers was a part of my childhood. If you are close to my age, he was likely a part of your childhood too. You likely know the theme song for his show. You likely remember some of the characters from The Neighborhood of Make Believe. Sure, we sometimes made fun of Mr. Rogers and his cardigans and practical shoes, but we all learned something from him.

And as it turns out, Mr. Rogers, in his acceptance speech, was still affecting people. In fact, he’s still affecting us today. That very video made me stop and think about something I hadn’t thought about before…the people who helped me become who I am.

For me, there are many…my parents, my family, some of my teachers, my college friends, other friends…you know, the usual. I won’t name any names, but there are other people who helped me become who I am, and some of them did not do it intentionally. You know who really helped me become who I am? People with whom I had a disagreement of some sort. Seriously. Think about that. When you have a disagreement with someone, it changes who you are…hopefully for the better. And I truly believe that, when I’ve had disagreements with folks, I have been introspective afterward…thinking about where I might have been right and where I might have been wrong. There are also people with whom I had a chance encounter…maybe they helped me carry my groceries; maybe they blessed my day; maybe they stopped me from doing something stupid; or maybe they encouraged me to take a risk I wouldn’t normally have taken. The list is long.

But the list of people who have cared about me along the way? I have a small family, so that list is not particularly long. I have some great friends with whom I will be friends till I die. And I’ve had other friends who aren’t still around, but they cared about me at some point, and I cared about them…and deep down inside, I truly care about anyone who was my friend at one time. Truth. And even if they don’t care about me, they still shaped me in some way.

I’m a firm believer that everyone we encounter affects us and shapes us in some way…maybe it’s a positive and maybe it’s a negative.

So stop and think about the people who have made you who you are. Sure, some of them cared about you. Some of them just affected you in a chance encounter. Be restrospective and introspective. And then, get out and go see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. Just seeing the movie trailer makes me cry, so when I go see it, I’ll have lots of tissues. I plan to see it within the next few days.

Our Daughter Is 15 Today

It’s difficult to believe. Our daughter is 15 today. As I type, she has about 15 more minutes to sleep before getting up for school…ninth grade, a high school freshman. How did we get here so quickly?

It has been 15 years since she changed our lives. Wow. We had no idea what we were doing as new parents, and we have no idea what we’re doing as parents of a teenager. We take it one day at a time. Even last night, she asked me if she could go to some concert in a couple of months, and I answered, “Can’t we deal with that when it gets a little closer?” Sometimes, I refuse to believe she is old enough to go to concerts.

Getting here has been a journey. Our daughter was never a sleeper. Even as an infant, she didn’t really nap. She was always wide-eyed and always moving. I’ve always said she is just like my brother. He was always on the move and still is. It serves our daughter well in athletic endeavors. She has lots of energy, and the athletic field is the perfect place to use that energy. Of course, all that energy disappears when I try to drag her through a museum…but that’s OK. Museums are usually quiet places, which is why she doesn’t enjoy them. I get it.

When she was two, our pediatrician told me, “What you have here is the classic strong-willed child. It will drive you crazy, but it will serve her well.”

I remember milestones…her first day of preschool, when she was ten months old. I needed a break one day a week, so she went for three hours to the preschool at our church. The first time she went, I cried as I walked away. And then her first day of “real school”…transitional kindergarten at an independent school. I didn’t cry that day. I was excited for her. She was four years old. She would turn five years old six weeks into the school year. But on that first day of “real school,” I drove up, and she got out of the car like a pro and walked up the sidewalk to her new classroom. I can remember what she was wearing. I wanted to watch her walk up the sidewalk and into the building, but it would have caused a logjam in the carpool line, so I drove away.

There are so many memories. I remember her crawling at breakneck speed. Her first tooth emerging when she was 10 months and 2 days old…later than most. Her first steps when she was 11 months old…she walked and then ran all in the same day. The joy on her face on Christmas mornings. She always loved Santa; she was the little girl who would sit on his lap and talk his ear off. How she was afraid of the Easter Bunny…a giant bunny coming into her house was terrifying, so he always left her basket just inside the door. I remember when she fell at preschool when she was three, popping her lip open. I remember walking on the pier with her at our condo on the bay, alligators in the water beneath, holding her hand so tightly it turned blue. I remember watching a nutria forage for food underneath the same pier. Our girl loved digging in the dirt in my parents’ yard and running back and forth across the bridge in their front yard. She would catch the giant black and yellow horse lubber grasshoppers that populate the Gulf Coast with her bare hands. 1200px-Horse_Lubber_Grasshopper_(Taeniopoda_eques)When she was little, she loved Easter Egg hunts year round. She loved playing outside with her older cousins. She has always loved being outside. We still remember the look on her face during her first trip to Disney World when she was four. We spent countless afternoons over the years with our playgroup…having fun with friends. We’ve gone on road trips with friends and other vacations with friends…New Orleans, Upstate New York, Maine, Puerto Rico, Atlanta, Chicago, Kentucky (slept in a wigwam!), San Francisco, Louisville, and more. I remember when the admissions counselor at her school told me how sweet she was during her visit (she was four years old) when they asked her, “If you break a cookie in half, how many pieces do you have?” She answered, “I would have two, but I would give one to my friend, Caroline, because she’s in the hospital.” I remember when she was taking swimming lessons as a toddler, and every week, she helped a scared little girl walk to the pool, taking her by the hand and walking her over. I vividly remember dropping her off at the airport in New York last summer for a two week trip to Iceland, and I can still remember the joy I felt when she was back in the USA. My husband and I have watched hours of soccer, field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. We went to dance recitals when she was a little girl…cute little yellow tutu with temporary tattoos all over her arms. I can still see the look on her face the first time she went to an Alabama football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium…it took her breath away. She has always loved rollercoasters…we were regulars at Carowinds Amusement Park for years…going almost daily when she was two, three, and four.  I’ve taken her to see concerts: Miranda Cosgrove, Matty B, Selena Gomez, Big Time Rush, One Direction…even One Direction opening for Big Time Rush. She has met some of her favorite athletes: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Teddy Bridgewater, Tony Romo, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Evander Holyfield. I should mention she also met Squishy Paws from Ricky, Nicky, Dicky, and Dawn, but only because I recognized the sweet little pooch when we were touring Paramount Studios…a proud moment. I’ve taken her to Los Angeles at least once a year since 2011, and she never gets tired of it.

On the journey to fifteen, she has lost two great-grandmothers and two grandparents…most recently, my mother this past December. She has had broken bones (wrist and shoulder) and multiple sprains. When she was ten, she came down with the flu on Christmas Eve. Yes, Christmas Eve. Since she was awake sick all night, Santa had a tough job that year. After a couple of nights at home with the flu, she and I moved to the Ballantyne Hotel for the next three nights and ordered room service till she was well. She has endured the stress of trying out for sports teams and standardized tests at school. She has watched her daddy go through brain surgery. And now she’s in high school. She is enjoying the transition from middle school to high school, and one day, I hope she will enjoy the transition to college just as much.

Before she goes off to college, I plan to make lots more memories…and afterward too. But since I know she leaves for college in less than four years, I want to make these high school years the best they can be.

One thing I know for sure is that she teaches us far more than we teach her.

I can’t believe she’s 15.

After the FIRST Final Rose…in 1973

I turned down the FIRST final rose…with pee in my shoes.

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After the FIRST final rose. While I love sharing favorite things, I love sharing favorite stories too.  With another season of ABC’s The Bachelor in full swing, I’m reminded of a story from my childhood. I like telling stories. This story is about a bachelor, shoes, and pee.

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My first memories of  childhood are in Brewton, Alabama. I have memories of riding bikes and fishing in the neighborhood pond, and I have lots of memories of Mrs. Peavy’s Kindergarten. Back then, public schools did not offer kindergarten, so in small towns, you either went to a church kindergarten, an established kindergarten in someone’s private classroom, or you didn’t go. ***Info about all photos at bottom of page***

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Mrs. Peavy was all business. Her kindergarten, which I attended at age five for the 1972-73 school year, was in a big room in the back of her home. She meant for us to learn a lot, and we did.  She wasn’t warm and fuzzy, but she loved sharing information with us and exposing us to new things. Dramatic  performances were her forte, and she produced a kindergarten play and an elaborate graduation ceremony every year. I don’t think any of us thought, at the time, Mrs. Peavy loved us, though looking back, I’m sure she did. She wanted to provide us with the best early education possible, and she succeeded.

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Mrs. Peavy might not have been warm and fuzzy, but she had the best playground in town. With a child size gas station, pedal cars, a teeter totter, monkey bars, and a child size “house,” it was awesome. That is one thing everyone I’ve talked to seems to remember…the awesome playground. I still wonder what happened to the vintage playground equipment when the house was torn down. To see or purchase vintage pedal cars like the one pictured below, clickhere.

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As mentioned before, her forte was dramatic productions, and in 1973, she lined up a fantastic production for our kindergarten play, Ole King Cole Takes A Wife. I was cast as Little Bo Peep. I’m sure I was cast in this lovely role for my short stature (she is LITTLE Bo Peep, after all), and not my singing talent. I loved my little blue and white costume full-length dress, bonnet, and shepherd staff. My mother’s friend, Martha, found a big shepherd’s staff, and she and my mother wrapped it in pink ribbon, tying a big bow near the top. I remember going to her big, old house with the wraparound porch on Belleville Avenue and standing in her yellow, gingham kitchen while they worked. I had the best costume.

I know what you’re wondering…how do Little Bo Peep and Ole King Cole go together? Well, in this production, all the ladies/girls of Nursery Rhyme Land were competing to become Ole King Cole’s bride, like an early version of The Bachelor! The king’s courtiers would bring in each potential bride, one at a time. There was Old Mother Hubbard, the Widow Humpty Dumpty, Peter Pumpkin Eater’s Wife (ex-wife? I guess she escaped the pumpkin shell…played by my friend, Cindy Finlay Fleming)…you get the picture. As luck (the script) would have it, Little Bo Peep was the last one called to see the king.

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Over the course of the play, Little Bo Peep (played by me) was waiting in the wings, and after all that waiting, not surprisingly, I needed to go to the bathroom. Mrs. Peavy was standing beside me behind the curtain. I remember exactly where I was standing. I looked up at Mrs. Peavy and said, “I need to go to the bathroom.” She responded angrily, “Too late now! You should have gone earlier.” I knew I’d never make it through my appearance without squirming. My five year-old self thought, “Humph! No, it’s not too late.”

As I mentioned before, my costume was a full-length dress, so unbeknownst to Mrs. Peavy, I set my feet apart and peed…right there in the wings of the stage…standing up. It was a calculated decision. Wearing a dress meant there was no visible wet spot on my clothes (which I realized in advance), so no one in the audience would know.

My shoes were a little squishy as I walked out for my moment in the spotlight, but no one in the audience knew I had just peed standing up or that I had squishy shoes. I turned around quickly and looked at the puddle on the hardwood floor as I walked away. Mrs. Peavy saw it too…too late now! I glanced at her and could almost see the steam coming out her ears!

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After the king proposed marriage to me (Little Bo Peep), I sang my solo, “I’ll Never Give Up My Sheep For A King” (yes, I can still sing some of it). He wanted to marry Bo Peep, but he didn’t want her sheep to come to the castle.

No dice.

So technically, I guess I turned down the final rose way before The Bachelor was even an idea! And I did it with pee in my shoes.

My family moved from Brewton to Spanish Fort when I was in second grade, and a few more times after that, but when Facebook came around, I reached out to some of those old friends from Mrs. Peavy’s Kindergarten. I’m proud to say Ole King Cole is among my friends, as are Peter Pumpkin Eater’s Wife (ex-wife?) and the Widow Humpty Dumpty.

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When I was driving from the beach to my mother’s house last summer, I drove through Brewton. As I rounded a corner in downtown Brewton, I saw vendors in a park. There, among the vendors, was Ole King Cole.

I parked the car along the curb across the street from the vendors and walked across, and Ole King Cole and Little Bo Peep had a reunion right there, but this time I didn’t have pee in my shoes.

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So, yes, Mrs. Peavy and her kindergarten made quite an impression on me. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from Brewton and her kindergarten. She was a great teacher and a great piano teacher to many in the community, as well. I’m grateful Facebook has made it possible to reconnect with childhood friends. I’ll share more childhood stories another time.

In the meantime: Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, the other gold.

And yes, Ole King Cole is gold.

P.S–Kindergarten Classmates: Does anyone else remember the dog’s tail falling off as he crossed the stage? I think the dog was played by a boy whose initials were K.I. I won’t put his full name, in case I’m wrong. Anyone?

***Photo info below***

Mrs. Ella Mae Peavy

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PHOTO INFO

*I am the little girl in the green and white dress in the headshot.

*The next two photos are from the graduation ceremony for my class in 1973.

*The black and white photo is from a 2012 story The Brewton Standard did on Mrs. Peavy. It is a photo showing the 1974 graduating class at their play, or as the article called it, their “operetta.”

*The cute little girl in the red outfit in the snow picture was Peter Pumpkin Eater’s Wife in the play. Her name is Cindy Finlay Fleming, and the picture is from the Great Southeastern Snow Storm of February 1973. It was the first time most of us had seen snow.

*The photo of two adults near the end is a photo of me and Keith Pugh, also known as Ole King Cole, when we reunited last summer.

*The photo of Mrs. Ella Mae Peavy is from an article in The Brewton Standard in 2012. Mrs. Peavy passed away in 1993.

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