A True Story About Motherhood from the Past

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Picture14Bronwyn at three and a half was already a Montessori scholar. Daily she trudged to an enlightened classroom where a teacher who genuinely liked children taught her how to scrub her desk with soapsuds, mess it up with fingerpaint and repeat the process. She was understandably enthralled. So much so, that Cee Cee at 2½ wanted to study soapsuds, too.

We arrived at the registrar’s office promptly at eight, on the theory that if I caught her early she might be groggy enough not to notice Cee Cee’s callow youth, for three years was the requisite age for admission to Montessori. My determined and very articulate 2½ year old marched in briskly and headed for the lady in charge, not waiting for me to explain our visit.

Picture19“I would like to go to this school, please. My sister goes here and I can do all the things she can do.” The angular middle-aged woman had the characteristic pallor of the classroom. She adjusted her glasses in an official gesture and turned to me; teachers, I’ve noticed, prefer to speak to grownups.

“How old is your daughter?” she asked slipping an admissions form simultaneously into the official typewriter.

“She’s 2½, but she’s very capable and unusually articulate. . .”

Picture18“I’m sorry, we have an absolute rule here that no one under three is permitted. You see, a 2½ year old can’t possibly do the things the older children do. We have an admission test here that children under three haven’t the ability to conquer.” She pulled out a tray of plastic blocks in star and circle and square and cross shapes and a board meant to contain them, a plastic Gordian knot for toddlers and plopped it on her desk, like a fatal judgment.

Cee Cee began to cry, restating her case. “I want to go to this school,” she sniffled. “If Bronwyn can go to this school, why can’t I go here, too”

“I’m very sorry, Cee Cee,” the lady said in large letters, as if speaking to a baby. “You are just too young. You’ll have to come back next year.”

Picture9Reason having failed, Cee Cee began to sob in earnest, she also pulled the tray full of judgemental plastic to her side of the desk in frustration, huge tears spilling down her round baby cheeks.

“You see,” said the woman, “she’s just not suitable.” She pulled the registration form emphatically from the typewriter. “This test will make that perfectly clear.” She pointed to the board that matched the blocks, where suddenly… Thump. Thump. Thump. Cee Cee was plopping plastic crosses into cross-holes, circles into circular ones and squares into squares. With precision. With resounding thuds. Perfectly.

Having finished the task in a nano-second, Cee Cee looked the astonished woman in the eye,  and said with theatrical dignity, “Did you think you were playing with kids?”

I should have known then that I was in for a wild ride.

Picture21

 

© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2014 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on May 9th 2014 in Family, Women

4 Responses to “A True Story About Motherhood from the Past”

  1. Fraser Says:

    Beautiful story from a heart felt Mother. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Cathy Says:

    Thank you, Fraser for the lovely message…I’m glad my story touched your kind heart.

  3. April Says:

    i’m so very sorry for your loss. What can I say that could help ease the pain you’ve endured but yet you are courageous to share. I want to express that even though it’s decades later I feel privileged that I met Cee Cee and Bronwyn when we were children. I was drawn to Cee Cee like a moth to a flame, drawn to her beauty, quick wit, intellect, generosity and kindness. We shared a bond of both being the little sister, and having older sisters caused Cee Cee to show me empathy for the trials and tribulations of sibling rivalry. At that age we all had a flare for the dramatics but they had a sparkle that was undeniable. Cee Cee had a heart of gold, and as a young girl I looked up to her because of that sparkle that will live on forever. Bronwyn was equally special, impressive, eloquent, statuesque, godess, generous, and kind. I’m so sad to hear of your loss. In my youth I used to daydream that I could have traded Cee Cee and Bronwyn to be my older sisters, because both of them always protected me from my older sister that was intolerant of my participation for I was the pestering younger sister. Bronwyn shared that same gift and had this instinct to protect me from harm, but she was much older than me for me to try to befriend her but I was always excited when she would allow me to be included with the older kids. Bronwyn and Cee Cee had a positive and powerful impact on my life and I remain grateful and so will those who read your work.

  4. Cathy Says:

    Thank you, dear April, for your beautiful remembrance of CeeCee and Bronwyn…it really touched my heart to know that you remember them in this way. Those were such happy times for us and I cherish the memories with all my heart.

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