Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl – Age 7
By age 7, my twin and I were members of the Look-It-Up Club.
We had a collection of encyclopoedias called The Book of Knowledge and would pour through them during “Quiet Time.”
“Quiet time” was time Mommy set aside mostly during summer breaks. It was supposed to replace the homework time that came just before dinner, time she used to regain some semblance of sanity from an afternoon spent with a house full of chattering, sometimes bickering–okay, a lot of times bickering–girls. Oh yeah, and for our enrichment–yeah, she created it for that too.
During “Quiet Time” we could read, play with the Chinese checkers (which was really just an exercise in making fun with marbles because none of us could play the actual game), color, or write. No t.v., no talking, no Power 99–just quiet.
I often found my spot on the floor and curled up the Book of Knowledge volume that illustrated the evolution of shoes through the ages. When I would ask Mommy a question about a word I didn’t understand, she would remind me, “You belong to the Club.” That meant a trip to the big grey Webster’s Dictionary that was pretty much retired years later when Debbie dropped it on a waterbug. But I digress.
Our vocabulary seemed to impress our teachers who apparently didn’t know much about Quiet Time or the Look-It-Up Club. And my father was among that number of unwitting souls.
Doreen and I had learned to read by age 4. So we joined the Club fairly early, first with hand-me-down Dick and Jane books, then with library cards–I think we got our first ones around 7 so we could participate in the Summer Reading Challenge.
Yes, that was another of Mommy’s stealth mommy-ing tactics. It was free fun in a safe place that was cooler than our fan-chilled (but not all that chilled) house. Oh yeah and it was enriching. Yes, that too.
Our induction into the Club started kind of like this:
Doreen and I, new and excited readers and writers, found some chalk one day. While Daddy
slept cared for us, we decided to practice our 4 year old vocabulary skills on the wall of the bedroom we shared with our other sister, Debbie.
Now Debbie was a big time 1st grader; Doreen and I the lowly babies. Armed with our chalk, we decided to prove that we weren’t so lowly at all by writing every four letter word we could sound out. Some ended up with only 3 letters (like damn turned to dam because, hey, the n is silent).
Debbie got into big time trouble for the vocabulary list because the babies couldn’t write that! She got a quarter to go buy some candy from Jewell’s corner store when they found out we could.
And we were officially inducted into the Look-It-Up Club.