Boy, how many times did my friends and I exclaim that when we were kids? "I can't wait to grow up." We uttered it whenever our public education middle class suburbia treated us 'poorly'. Like, we weren't allowed to go to the pool, weren't appropriated money for some fun activity, couldn't find someone to drive us to somewhere, or had to trudge int school for another day of stimulating learning.
"I can't wait to grow up" was part of the "I can't wait until I'm sixteen", "I can't wait until I get my lesson", and "I can't wait to I get a job and make my own money" quadrilogy. Of course all the adults looked at us and answered, in chorus now, "You don't know how good you have it. Just wait until you grow up. Then you'll see."
That was the standard answer. I had a more savvy social studies teacher, Mrs Rubenstein, one of the all time great people in my life. My all time greats list is small. There are a few teachers on it, and three bosses. They were my all time greats because I found them different.
I had Mrs Rubenstein in 8th grade. Spiro Agnew was Vice-President and resigned. This is when he waged war on the press. While trying to depict how badly the press treated him, he made the comment the press corps, "You probably won't even report this." They did, of course. (How else would I know about it?) Mrs Rubenstein found it highly entertaining and ironic, laughing about in class the next day as she talked about it and shook her head. It was a different aspect of the teacher's personality, as teachers really didn't have personalities outside of class. We gleaned some by what cars they drove and what they wore, but that was about it. Back in my time and district, we didn't know their political affiliation or religion, although I guessed at some.
But that day, when Mrs Rubenstein made that comment, a whole other facet of character sprang out, lively and intelligent, glinting in her dark eyes. I think back on her now and think, she would have been fun to talk to about books, politics, and world affairs. She just had that vibe.
Mrs Rubenstein heard some of us discoursing on, "When I grow up," and invented an exercise. For a three week period, of activites, we were grown up.
It was like the Game of Life, except we made decisions. She provided us with information about jobs and their salaries, housing, transportation and insurance costs, and the costs of having children and raising them. Then we invented a life.
While she acted as mediator and facilitator, others were set up as banker and insurance agent, and various business owners that we each thought we wanted to be. There were even room for careers as athletes, musicians, and actors. While deciding our careers, we also had to write a book report on a biography, memoir or autobiography about someone from our chosen field. All of this was designed to help us understand the costs of our decisions, and the hard world people devoted to get ahead.
Housewives weren't forgotten, either. We were allowed to pretend we were married and establish households, and wives were allowed to 'stay at home'. Everyone chosing to do that had to interview their parents about their household chores. Then cards were created, with the time required to do each, along with the frequency.
It was an eye-opening experience. It slipped my mind but returned to me this morning. I don't hear children often say, "When I grow up." There is a AARP commercial themed, "When I grow up," part of a new trilogy I hear, "When I retire" and "After I get canned from this job."
Isn't it great how we're always looking ahead?
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com