Many of you who know me know that I often refer to myself as a nerd and I am proud of it. I will tell my staff that, when I am sharing the endless ideas that inspire me through my reading and I will tell my students that, when I am sharing the interesting tidbits I find as I hang out online in so many wonderful places with smart people who share their thinking and ideas.
I just had the great pleasure of attending a Summer Literacy Institute in Saskatoon and hang out with two of those incredibly smart and humble people: Georgia Heard and Ralph Fletcher. During the 3 days we spent together we took many journeys back to our memories as we contemplated the small things in life and how they can inspire our writing.
My dad’s birthday is fast approaching and I have been spending a lot of time thinking about him and the wonderful childhood I had because of my mother and him. My father was strict and he was a hard working man who had many expectations for his children. He had a wonderful childhood himself, but did not have the opportunities for education that I was given. The expectation of furthering our education was always there for my brothers and I. My parents did not care what we did, but they did care that we did it.
The strongest memories of my childhood will always be the endless hours of imagination and play spent on our cattle ranch with the sun streaming down on us and our games. The hours of laying in the hammock or under a make shift tent reading books and magazine stories and best of all despite the fact my father was busy with full time work and operating a cattle ranch that essentially was another full time job, he made time to create memories with me through books. Curling up with my father reading the many adventures of Winnie the Pooh is certainly one of the fondest memories I have.
My dad tells me the story of the day I graduated from high school. Apparently I came home that day, threw my books on the floor and said something like, “that was a waste of 12 years of my life!” I am pretty sure my dad probably just laughed it off at the time because he knew the truth. What I didn’t realize was because of his modeling and example my dad had instilled in me a desire to learn and keep learning, so instead of putting away that backpack of books forever on that day I went on to earn a Associate Degree in Early Childhood, a Bachelor of Education, a Special Education Certificate, and most recently, a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Even though my dad probably chuckled at my dramatics on that day, he knew the joke was on me in the long run.
My mom and dad will turn 84 this year and I am starting to face the realities of what will certainly be coming in the near future. The interesting thing is even in my most recent phone call to them in the last couple of days, my dad and I had a lengthy conversation about books and what we were reading.
So when I stake my claim to nerdom, talk endlessly about reading, get so excited about sharing the things I am learning it is because I learned from the best of the best.
The most wonderful gift my father could have given me was the gift of life long learning and I will forever be grateful.