I was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, the Education Capital of Missouri. Brief family background: Mom is from Brazil-Itacoateria, Amazonas to be exact. Dad is from Columbia, Missouri. They met when my dad was in the Peace Corps in Brazil in the 70's. My mom didn't fully speak English when I was born, so I was a bilingual baby.
My mom did not work outside of the house when I was growing up, but my parents did enroll me in pre-school at the University of Missouri's Child Development Lab. (I would later do my college observations and student teaching in the same exact lab school-it really does come full circle.) I actually have some memories from being a pre-schooler at the lab and I think they may demonstrate the beginning of my "weirdness."
I remember one of my favorite activities was building at the work bench. We're talking real wood, real tools, and real nails. At that time, they must not of made us wear protective eye gear because I can remember hammering so hard that the back of the hammer hit me in the eye and I ended up having an awesome black eye.
We had gerbils in our classroom and it feels like they were always having babies. I used to get so excited about those hairless babies with their eyes still closed and I'd drag my mom over to see them. She was so disgusted by them that she couldn't even look.
Our family had a local business, a travel agency called Cooper Travel Inc. When I was younger my dad traveled all the time. Being a travel agent was much different back then. Anyway, there were three traditions that happened any time he went on a trip. The first one started when he accidently ended up with one of my little bitty socks in his suitcase. That started the tradition of me bringing him one of my socks to put in his suitcase as he packed the night before leaving for his trip. The second tradition was my mom shoving a chair in front of our front door every night while my dad was gone. Not sure that would have really protected us, but I guess it made her feel safe. The third tradition was my dad always bringing a t-shirt back for me from the airport of the city or country he had visited. So basically my pre-school wardrobe consisted of a million different airport t-shirts.
I was in pre-school in the 70's-Star Wars time. One day make-up artists (looking back, they must have been theater students or something) visited our classroom and we got to pick which Star Wars character to be made up as. All the girls in my class picked Princess Leia. They looked so pretty with their lipstick and hair in those little braided buns on each side of their heads. Did I pick Princess Leia? No, I picked Yoda. I was the one and only girl with green make-up all over her face.
Halloween as a Fireman
I remember this big Halloween function in the evening at the Lab. My parents were with me of course. All the kids were dressed up in costume and trick or treated around the building. I had the sweetest plastic costume because this was before my mom started sewing our costumes. I was a fireman-with the vinyl suit and plastic mask of a man wearing a fireman hat-every little girl's dream I'm sure.
I'm in a Text Book
So supposedly I'm in a text book about art in early childhood. I still can't find this book, but I haven't tried too hard. Apparently a painting I painted as a pre-schooler is in the book as well as my description of what I had painted. I may be crazy and have this all wrong, but I think the book is by Dr. Jean Ispa.
So looking back at these pre-school memories I wonder what my parents and teachers thought about me. What did the students write in their observations of me? (Remember, it's a lab school.) I think I sounded pretty cool. Others may have thought a little weird.