Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Last night at midnight it was too hot to sleep, and I was too tired and sticky and uncomfortable to read anything challenging. So I grabbed two of my old “Little House” books and read them both cover-to-cover over two and a half hours, by which time it was cool enough to sleep.

The second of the two books was “These Happy Golden Years”, in which Laura leaves home for the first time to teach school. And while I read, my busy brain was processing a few things.

As a child, and before I read “Lord of the Rings” aged 9, my great literature loves were the “Laura” (“Little House”) books and the “Anne of Green Gables” books. I read them again and again, dressed up and pretended to be the characters, and made up my own stories about them. I also identified strongly with the main characters – Laura for her quick temper, stubbornness and objection to her brown hair; and Anne (and later in the series, her daughter Nan) for her daydreaminess and her need to pretend about everything.

Two girls who grew up to be teachers. Two girls whose mothers had also been teachers. Two girls who were my childhood idols.

My mother was a high school teacher until I was about 9, then proceeded to teach at a business college and then at university. Apart from when she was on maternity leave, there’s only been two years of my life in which my mother was not an educator of some sort (a brief stint in the private computing sector, never to be repeated lol). And even when I’d formally renounced any intention to ever become a teacher by launching in to my archaeology career, it was somehow embedded in my psyche that I would be a teacher someday. I’d even catch myself thinking “when I’m a teacher” and would have to remind myself that I’d turned from that path. In the end, it was ridiculously simple to turn back again, and I know I’m where I’m supposed to be at last.

But I can’t help but wonder whether these two characters – one fictional, one semi-autobiographical – programmed that desire to teach into my mind at that early age (I know I read all of the “Laura” books that were in the school library when I was six and seven). I adored Laura and Anne and made them a part of me, and they grew up to be teachers. Did my impressionable mind take that on, and build my self-image around the idea that because I was like them in so many other ways, I too would grow up to be a teacher?

It’s worth a good few hours’ musing, at any rate!

Edited to add: gratuitous but rather cute pic of me in about 1989, dressed in "pioneer" (synonymous with mid-to-late 1800s in my childhood lexicon) clothes. I think on this occasion I was supposed to be Mary Lennox from “The Secret Garden” but I could just as easily have been Laura Ingalls or Nan Blythe in the same outfit, and frequently was, too. I had no reason to be dressing up, it was just for fun!



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