Whenever I drive past our local elementary school, which is every single day, I smile. And not just your casual little grin, either. I’m actually showing most all my teeth. Kinda like that striped cat hanging out in the tree in Alice’s Wonderland. Only I’m totally not up to any mischief. Well … maybe just a little.
My most favorite, besides discovering Ricky covered up to his neck in a ginormous pile of new mulch on the playground, is about our oldest child when she was in kindergarten. For Katie, it was the kindergarten experience that every mother prays for their child. My prayer each night sounded something like this: Dear God … please guide the teachers in creating a love and hunger for learning in my child that will last a lifetime … Amen.
Everyone called the kindergarten teachers Miss Ferring and Miss Caperton, even though they were both married. The two lovely ladies co-taught their lively class and were known as the “K Crew,” lighting up the room like sparkly firecrackers with their kid-friendly personalities. Katie adored her teachers and often came home with interesting little stories.
“Did you know that Miss Ferring has fur children?” a wide-eyed Katie told me all excited one day after school.
I immediately pictured blue-lipped children shivering around the fireplace with fur coats on. But this was Texas, right? I probably raised my eyebrows a tad until it finally hit me. Miss Ferring’s “fur children” actually were her beloved cats. I loved Miss Ferring immediately.
Another time Katie told me how Miss Ferring’s husband absolutely LOVED bowling. I think he was on a league and everything. I could see from the look on Katie’s face and her enthusiasm that he obviously received so much joy from the sport.
Heck, the Frantz family could relate. You should see my hubby bowl. It is not what attracted me to him, but the dude has a bowling technique/form that you might see on Championship Bowling. It is not that all the pins always fell down at the end of the alley, either. But rather the way he threw that right leg back so perfectly to the left as he released the ball that was just so darn impressive. When we were dating he talked me into joining a bowling league. He got me my own bowling ball, too. It was baby blue. My bowling days didn’t last long. Bowling is totally not my gift. Quilting is more my sport of choice.
We did a fair amount of bowling at our house when all the kids were still at home. I always called dibs on partnering with Mimi. I rolled my ball down Mimi’s lane set up with bumpers and the wheelchair ramp for the bowling ball. And when the scorecard was finally tallied up, Mimi, and the entire rest of the family, always beat me. Getting a big, shiny bowling trophy has never been even remotely on my bucket list.
Later that school year, there came a day when Katie came home from kindergarten kinda sad. She said Miss Ferring’s husband had to stop bowling. He had developed a health condition that made it difficult for him to continue his favorite sport.
It wasn’t too long after that my brother Carl gave Katie this cute little plastic game called Strollin’ Bowling. It almost fit in the palm of her hand when folded. Open the base up and it looked like a miniature bowling alley with little pin shapes that stood up on one end. There was this little black bowling ball with legs that you wound up and it “walked” toward the pins. Katie played with that game for a week or so before she asked me a question.
“Do you think it would be all right if I gave my Strolling Bowling game to Miss Ferring to give to Mr. Ferring?”
I didn’t think Katie’s uncle would mind since it would go to a good home. Miss Ferring was conflicted about taking the game initially, but Katie talked her into it.
“Now Mr. Ferring can bowl whenever he wants to,” Katie said.
That building contains lots of other warm and fuzzball memories that are now many years in my rearview mirror. But every day I smile … and imagine what the current treasure trove of students is experiencing. Yeah … memories like a little boy buried in giant steaming mounds of mulch and Strolling Bowling.