From the time I could remember having a thought I wanted to be a singer. I was a shy kid. I sang in my bedroom or with the radio in our Barracuda. Man that was a cool car.
A pink bristly hair brush was my first microphone. Mostly I sang in the car. Sometimes daddy would say, “Wow, she has a good voice.” He turned the dial on the radio down mid chorus and everyone would hear a split second of my solo. I got my first transistor radio and I carried it everywhere with me. I was 8 then. That was a great summer waiting for Seasons in the Sun to come on while we sang with the radio on the swings. Eventually we memorized it and the playground was subjected to our repeated duet and sometimes trio when the one or two friends I had shyly made would sing along.
I liked my voice until 4th grade.
I can’t remember the choir director’s name, but I will never forget her face. She was a pretty lady, blonde like me. I had taken home the flyer from school and told my mom and dad. I don’t think they knew how important choir was to me.
I tried out on the prescribed day standing alone at a piano. She said, “Sing the Star Spangled Banner.” A flush of fear washed through me like a giant tidal wave I hoped would pick me up and sweep me out of the room. I think I sang one word, maybe two. “I stood there as she told the other teacher she would never be a singer.”
Dear God, NEVER BE A SINGER?
I made the “other” choir eloquently called number 2.
It was then I stopped believing in teachers. Broken hearted no one knew I felt anything.
In fact I was a good student, math made no sense and I didn’t belong to a group or clique. My friends were the ones who like me were never chosen for kickball and picked for the team.
I could think in my head and read stories of kids who had magical powers. The balancing act of who we want to be and who we are festering like a boil ready to burst, then quietly subsiding somewhere in the night.
When I was a kid there were no cell phones and iPads. We rode the bus to school and endured the wrath of the “popular kids” who always sat in the back. Things were said face to face and that was a sweet thing, less of the world to see how others perceive.
Kids like me, the quiet ones, kids who only talked one on one with someone who was as quiet as we were. It was a time when kids could be cruel and prank phone calls calling names and heavy breathing left lying awake all night contemplating the bus ride to that prison of learning where the focus wasn’t molecular compound and geometry.
It was a time when algebraic equations like A + B = you can’t sing. I sang still in silent to 45’s and albums until they skipped scratched like the soul developing within me. I still wanted to be famous inside my quiet shyness. Even when the spark of confidence dies the dream continues to grow.
I didn’t want to become a teacher. It was never a plan. It began as a journey to take me to what I thought I wanted in a place where few careers abound. A teacher of children with wounded hearts like me. Everyday dawned a new day and twenty years from yesterday I am still here standing amid the smoke screen.
I am aware in the now, a child like me apprehensive and scared may enter a door and sit at my table. I am lucid in learning their names, encouraging a smile, declaring learning will be coupled with good and bad days, but learning is loving and patience is the beginning. I ignore what others say about this child in my embrace and in context I uncover the path and pave the way for a child to emerge brilliant with poise. There is no impossibility in being human and in those minutes and days we will forgo the challenge of being in a world that is listening and watching aware more then ever of who we are. We can still sing and despite what they say we cannot do we can show them we will. Today I take a seat in the back. Today I will teach a child to love himself and learn.