I’m not quite ready to leave childhood.
At six, I was a talker, laughing easily. Mrs. McDonald reprimanded me.
“Julie, pay attention to your own arithmetic- don’t reach across the aisle.”
“But Donald is showing me a funny picture he’s drawing of a dog with two heads.”
I continued to giggle. “Julie!”
The teacher took me by the arm and led me back to the cloak closet. She put tape on my mouth
and left me among the snowsuits and boots for 10 minutes.
That night I taped the mouth of Yvonne, my favorite doll and rolled her crib into my closet.
“You are bad!” I scolded.

Je ne suis pas prête à abandonner mon enfance.
A six ans, je parlais beaucoup, riant facilement. Mme. McDonald m’a réprimandée.
“Fais attention à ton propre devoir- ne t’occupe pas des autres pupitres.”
Je rigolais encore un peu. “Julie!”
L’institutrice m’a saisie par le bras en me menant au fond de la salle de classe, m’a scotché la bouche au
vestiaire et m’y a déposée 10 minutes parmi les vestes d’hiver et les bottes.
Cette nuit-là j’ai scotché la bouche d’Yvonne, ma poupée favorite, et je l’ai roulée dans son berceau dans mon placard.
“Tu es méchante.” Je l’ai grondée.



By age 12 I must have had redeeming qualities. During the last week of sixth grade a small graying man in a navy blue uniform and cap came into our classroom and talked quietly with the teacher. She called us to attention. “Students, this is a representative from the American Legion, whose members have fought in wars to safeguard our country. He is here to give out an award.” None of us had heard of such an award, but when he began a little speech about the medal representing courage, character, service, companionship and scholarship, we were all solemn. “This award is given to the person most representing these qualities as you leave elementary school for middle school. This year’s recipient is Julie Howard.” I was stunned. In retrospect the whole idea was silly. I had never heard of half those words, and at that age the medal caused envy among friends, not admiration. Still, that little medal, with all those character traits engraved on it, has never gone missing. I found it the other day in the back of my desk drawer.

Par l’âge de 12 ans, j’ai du avoir des qualités me rachetant. Pendant la dernière semaine du sixième, un petit homme aux cheveux gris en uniforme bleu marine avec une casquette entra dans notre salle de classe et échangea des mots avec notre institutrice. Elle nous a adressé, “Mes élèves, ce monsieur représente la Légion d’Amérique, dont les membres ont combattu dans des guerres pour sauvegarder notre pays. Il est ici pour remettre un prix.” Aucun d’entre nous n’avait entendu parler d’une telle chose. Quand il s’est mis à décrire la médaille, nous expliquant qu’elle représentait le “courage, caractère, service, l’amitié et l’étude” nous nous sommes tous sentis sérieux. “Cette médaille est décernée à l’individu qui représente le mieux ces qualités. La lauréate cette année s’appelle Julie Howard.” J’étais étonnée. Quand j’y pense, l’idée de décerner un tel prix à un écolier de 12 ans était bête, ne causant que l’envie parmi mes amies. Néanmoins, cette petite médaille, avec tous ces traits de caractère gravés dessus, n’a jamais fugué. Je l’ai trouvé l’autre jour au fond du tiroir de mon bureau.

I LOVE BEING 88! (continued)

J’ADORE AVOIR 88 ANS! (suite)

So, how did I journey from psychotic young motherhood to where I am now?
I was ‘by love possessed,’ hiding a split. It took 40 years to face and accept what lurked or burst forth from beneath the surface. Now I am in love with the world. I still am riddled with flaws. But what’s underneath is solid, nothing lurking. It leads to reverence for all of us, humanity. And enjoyment of one precious minute as if it were a year.

Alors, comment ai-je voyagé de la jeune maternité psychotique à l’endroit où je suis? J’étais ‘par l’amour possédée,’ cachant une rupture. J’ai mis 40 ans à faire face à ce qui se cachait sous la surface, ou éclatait. Je suis maintenant amoureuse du monde. Je suis toujours pétrie de défauts. Mais ce qui est en dessous de la surface est solide, plus rien ne se cache. Cela mène au respect pour nous tous, l’humanité. Et je peux jouir d’une minute précieuse comme si c’était un an.

Farewell, Dear Humanity II

photo by Laura H Parker

It is almost too late to say farewell to dear old humanity.  Millennials are bewitched by the little box in their palm, thumbing a message to a kid three feet away.  Why use face muscles or try to read another person’s puzzling expression when an emoji does it for us.  Study those emojis.  They rob the richness of a human face longing to connect and slip us a choice instead of 40 yellow idiot dots.   We click on one, send a text,  we’re linked! Five people text us back.  We’re popular!   But then why are we so lonely, so isolated, so prone to take drugs?  Why do we fall for these gadgets?

Infotech isn’t a new thing, we’ve had IT creep for years.  Our human capacities simply got overwhelmed….we couldn’t handle the information age without Google to the rescue.  Before that it was Xerox.  Copies linked us then buried us.  With so much to read, so much to worry about- a bus crash in Bolivia-  we know we are ‘losing it.’ Change is unmooring us. The pressure on our humanness gets greater every minute. We are desperate for a little free time.  But where? How about meals?  Such a waste cooking, serving, chewing, swallowing.  Smoothies to the rescue, or take out.  Double up with cell phone news, more texting, ads buffeting us.  If others are at the table,  they are texting too.  We try multi-tasking.  A friend got a text from someone walking the labyrinth in meditation.  I watch a father running, pushing his baby on an outing, a good thing.  But he’s on his smart phone and oh, he’s getting in his nightly jog.  Forget relating to the baby.

Relating to the baby.  Here is the real crux of how we are abandoning our humanity.  Our little ones are turning to their cell phones for the comfort and reassurance they are not getting in relationships with the adults at home.  Life seems grim,  nothing but competing teams, a race from kindergarten through college to perform, to do well, to succeed, to win.  Win what?  We do not communicate to our youngest generation the value of simply being alive and goofing off now and then, dreaming!   Living is perilous: quick, drugs.

Parents are stressed, school is stressed, jobs are stressed, our globe is stressed.  But is life any more dangerous than it was in World War II or the Cold War or Korea or Vietnam when a nuclear threat hung over us?  We are in a time of relative peace, yet our frenzy accelerates.  We most need to reestablish the best left of our vanishing humanity: the ability to relate.   Let us reassure our children in wisdom, face to face, that life is a wonderful gift and give them time to enjoy it.