Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chalkboard Memories

The other day I traveled down to schoolsville with the Soon-To-Be-Mama Bean to prep her classroom for her sub. Her first grade class sits amidst a Mondrian inspired box of a school. The doors were a vibrant yellow and a portion of one wall matched my living room…sonic green. There was a rainbow grid rug front and center and everything was so new and shiny, including the white boards. White boards? Ya gotta love advancement. Mama Bean threw a 10 pack of dry erase markers onto a desk and their happy colored caps made me swoon. How fun it must be to write a lesson so full of color and pizazz yet it made me think about my college classes and their lack of the classic blackboard…or green board. I felt all nostalgic and immediately thought of Ellen Tebbits as she ferociously clapped erasers in a silent competition with Austine her once best friend. It reminded me of how thrilling it was when Mrs. Sasada, my fourth grade teacher would pull out the colored chalk and let us select a color to write a word on the board. My left-handed penmanship always sloped every-which-way leaving a shadow of pink chalk across my palm. Oh how I loved the texture and cake like quality of the markings across the pine green of the board.

When I was 5 years old, my granny taught me how to draw stars on my own private chalkboard that hung in my pink girlie bedroom, the one I once shared with my sister and her hippo collection before my Dad took her away. Granny got the board for me and it was hung on a wee stretch of wall between my bedroom door and the closet that I was sure Frankenstein’s monster would come out of some night. I remember the sound of the chalk, classic white, as we drew up, down, left, right, and down again, over and over and over. There were stars all over the place. Later, I have no idea how much later, I would steal away the candy colored chalk to color a ballerina in a coloring book when my Mamos took my crayons away. I remember huddling on the floor on the far side of my bed, belly pressed against the stale scratchy buffalo-like shag carpeting, scribbling in defiance as angry tears rolled down my face. I remember thinking; “Take that! You told me I couldn’t color but I am!” I felt so wicked. I think it was the first time I was “in trouble” and it was the first time I was defiant. I don’t really remember any other moments like this as a child with my mother. I do remember moments like this as a young adult with a not so good-for-me boyfriend but that’s a story for another time.

Standing on my tip-toes as I stapled sky blue paper to the wall for the Mama-To-Be’s bulletin board I could recall many grade school memories. Mostly they consisted of the the wonky lighting, playing Heads Up, Seven Up, blowing bubbles in my chocolate milk, and printing on that fabulous grayish paper with the light blue dotted lines. But most prominent in my memories are the many blackboards I gazed upon with faint memories of math problems and the staccato of the chalk as it struck the board. White boards may have taken over but I am so very grateful for my memories, for Ellen and for whoever it was who invented chalkboard paint!

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