Thursday, July 22, 2010

Boarding School Part II and Dear Daughters

saint marys hall
        Dear Daughters,

Attending a girls’ boarding school for 4 years of high school impacted my life in ways that are so deeply embedded in me, it is hard to remember what they were.
        However dear daughters, here are a few details: 
*  I feel certain my mother  (your Nonnie) was worried and concerned about this great adventure I was beginning at age 14, but as she sewed name tags in all of my clothes and newly purchased uniforms, she never said a word- other than the sage advice I mentioned in a previous post.

Lesson:  in relation to your own children, figure out when as a mother you show fear and when you do not.
*  Never underestimate the power of table manners. Was I raised to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork, as clearly some of my classmates were?

No , I was not.
Lesson:  if you have a core set of table manners these oddities will not bother you when you see them.
(I remember being horrified.

My solution? I didn’t eat fried chicken my freshman year, until I gained my sea legs and thought, Mills style, this is crazy. )
*I wore a hat or a mantilla to the Episcopal church near the school every Sunday because it was required (both the hat and church).
Lesson: Don’t always balk at the required.  It can lead to wonderful adventures.

We are now Episcopalians because of those early adventures, and yes I did wear my pajamas to church once covered with my trench coat. I have always been a fan of just a little healthy rebellion.
*I had a History of Art teacher my senior year who cursed in class (occasionally) and even wrote similar comments in the margins of our essays. 

Guess what?  She was one of my favorite teachers.

Lesson: Why do you think that was?You tell me the next time we see each other.
*I never had a teacher in the classroom when the class was taking a test.  The minute the tests were distributed, the teacher walked to the door, turned as he/she left the room and said, ‘You are on your honor’.
Lesson:  As a high school English teacher , I periodically turned my back on my students while they were testing.

I always said 'You are on your honor'.

To many of my colleagues and certainly administrators this would be considered heresy.

I wasn't encouraging them to cheat. The result?  My students’ shoulders were a little straighter, and those that did cheat were given the gift of honor anyway.
Food for thought-

Love, Mom


Unknown said...

Great write, Laura ... your closing was profound.

Have a lovely summer's eve ~
TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

June said...

I am so glad that I chose to come visit you rather than take that nap I was planning. I always enjoy life from your vantage point.
Your blue post was as lovely as ever, and of course my favorite was daughter watching. I love to daughte watch, especially when all four are together. What a joy to see these young women all relate to each other.
I hope you are enjoying this time with them.

Carole and Chewy said...

You've reminded me I almost married a man who ate his fried chicken that way - there were other issues, but the whole abyss between us concerning chicken manners was the final straw...

Karen said...

Laura, I have almost patiently waited to read your second posting about boarding school. Hopefully there will be more!
Reading about table manners reminded me of hearing my parents state, "Table manners are an index to your character." Huh? Well, through the years I began to understand what they were saying. Sorta.
Then there was the mandate made at Girl Scout camp, "NO fairies on the table!" Fairies a.k.a. elbows. Who didn't know that?? lol
Honor is a word that we need to use more often. Does the "honor system" still exist? Does honor??
I hope my 6 year old granddaughter who happens to be visiting us right now will understand when I work that into a conversation with her today.
Great thoughts, Laura.
Ladybug Creek

Pondside said...

This was a great post - and oddly connected to the one I posted yesterday, about my aunts - the nuns. It's obvious that your years at boarding school had a profound (and good!) impact on you. What a gift!

Olive said...

I never thought hovering over students worked. When I took my state board's to become a licensed RN they went with me to the bathroom! It was dreadful. Wonderful post Laura. olive♥

Debra@CommonGround said...

I always love it when you talk about your school days. Great posts Laura, and I agree about daughter watching. They have their own world between them.

Lisa said...

Thank you Laura for sharing boarding school with us. You are such a wonderful tour guide.:)

Vintage Linen Treasures said...

Love that last lesson.
Patricia :o)

Nancy's Notes said...

Laura, love your posts about all of your memories at boarding school and at home, they are heartfelt and I dearly love to read about them. Who else to pass down priceless wisdom than a mother, it's a personal gift we give to our own children, what a blessing.

Great read Miss Laura.

Your friend.


Deb said...

great post Laura..your daughters are lucky have such a wise Mom...

Linda (Nina's Nest) said...

Laura, I enjoyed this advice. It reminded me that my son-in-law said he quit dating a girl because she ate pizza with a knife and fork. Oh, when I was in college I remember my roommate and I running over to Hardee's to grab a burger while wearing our shorty pjs under our little piece of rebellion, too. Keep are so good at it (proper English - you do it well; you do a good job!). Linda

Theresa said...

Love these stories! My grandchildren are going to private school in the fall and will be wearing uniforms for the first time. Can't wait to see how that works with the 14 year old:)

Laura, I am receiving my magazines from your giveaway and LOVE them! Thank you so much!

Have a blessed day my friend! HUGS!

Privet and Holly said...

Wise words, my friend!
Aren't they so lucky
to have you???
It's funny the things
that you remember
and that have an
impact. I am always
amazed at the things
my kids remember that
I didn't intend to
make a big impression...
but they did.
Happy Friday!
xx Suzanne

Designs on 47th Street said...

Laura, you just have the nicest way of telling stories. I do love your blog. If I had read before that you had three daughters, I had forgotten. I also have three daughters who I am very close to. My youngest is engaged and as I am helping her with the bridal registry, I can see "future tablescapes" in her mind! :) It is pleasing to a mother, isn't it?


Diane said...

These words of wisdom are as precious as pearls Laura! Thank you for sharing and planting such beautiful seeds, ones you have no idea ever will or how be sown.

Donna @ The House on the Corner said...

Isn't it wonderful when you can look back and identify the lessons you learned, when maybe you didn't understand why it was necessary to learn them, that resulted in something great now!! (Did that make sense :-) I just love it when I can remember (way) back and see something that happened in my youth that has resulted in something I value today. Great post Laura!!

Kelly Frances Dunn said...

Full circle is perfection. Wisdom and caring enough to share is divine :)

Jojo said...

Your post made me think about some of the females in my husband's family. Because of the war in Lebanon, several of them at the age of 12 went to a French boarding school. There stories are interesting and the lessons they learned were very different than the lessons I learned in public school in the U.S. but they made some friends who became friends for a lifetime.

A wonderful post.

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