One of the things that I get my students to do, is write. Writing is the formal part of any language. When we talk, we use slang. With writing, we must be careful of verb agreements, adjective use, the correct spellings of words… all that is lost in the spoken word.
With private students in particular, I have them write essays for me. Why do I do this? I want to see that all the information I have given them over their lessons, has sunk in. I want to see that they understand the use of language. I want to see that they are learning something.
Many times, these students are at a loss of what to write about. Over the years, I have collected topic suggestions. These consist of little pieces of paper that begin with a sentence, and they are required to continue the ‘story’. So, I’ve decided to do a few of these myself.
The first thing I remember is…
This is rather interesting. There are many ‘first things’ I remember. Being in school. First pet. Many first days at school (different than ‘being in school’). First job. First… well, let’s just leave it there!
The first time I remember actually being in school, was kindergarten. Since my brother, Ted, was going to be entering school the following year, there was a day that he could accompany me to school. Sort of a ‘pre-introduction’ to kindergarten. I remember that my teacher, Mrs. Luckianow (?) had said that we could play in the ‘kitchen’ area of the class. Then, the nurse came by that day with a sugar cube that was pink. I’m not sure what the ‘medicine’ was, but I do remember putting it in my mouth, but not actually eating it.
I returned to the ‘kitchen’, took out a couple of plates, a knife, forks, etc., and took the sugar cube out of my mouth. Then, I tried to cut it up to share with my brother so we could have a meal. Please understand readers, that I was only 5 or 6 at the time! My teacher came over and saw what was going on, and explained that this was only for me, and not to be shared. She then told me to eat the sugar cube, which I did.
My first pet, that I actually owned on my own. Of course, surprise as it may be, it was a cat. I was living in Ottawa at the time, in an apartment, on the 7th floor. Actually, the way the apartment building was built, it could really be called the 6 1/2 floor, but semantics…
This cat was a bit crazy, that’s all I remember about her. Oh, and it was a female cat. Many times, I would have to stop her from trying to chase the birds off the balcony. As it happened, one day the balcony door was left open. I couldn’t find my cat anywhere. My roommate, as he was leaving for work, found the cat on the ground, below the balcony. I guess the cat had tried to chase a bird, and well, fell 6 1/2 stories.
The second cat that I got, I actually got him and his sister. A colleague of mine at the time, was taking show-horse lessons. The cat in the stables had had kittens, and I agreed to adopt a male and female. When my neighbour moved out of the apartment next door, the female cat had disappeared at the same time. This time, there was no cat on the ground, and I only guessed that my neighbour, who liked the female cat, had taken it with her. The male cat though, was with me for 19 years – until about a month before I moved to Taiwan. Mhoram had lived in several homes with me, from Ottawa, to Windsor, to Vancouver.
My first job, that I was actually paid money for, was working in a place called English Fish and Chips, about 2 blocks from our home in London. I would help out on Saturdays and Sundays, folding boxes, waiting tables, doing dishes, and various other odd jobs. For this, I was paid $3 each day, I got to keep all the tips I made serving customers, and each night when I would go home, I was given an order or two of fish and chips. Considering that I was in grade 6 or 7 at the time, I was ‘legally’ not allowed to work, so I couldn’t really call it a job.
My first ‘legal’ job, was working for A&W. My task was food prep and clean-up. The major part of my work hours was devoted to making ‘teen tops’. For anyone unfamiliar with this, a ‘teen top’ is the piece of lettuce and slice of tomato that goes ONLY on the teen burger. This, coincidentally, was also the first job I quit! I remember that day only too well as well.
My boss was returning from the bank where he had purchased rolls of coin for the restaurant. On the way into the employee entrance (rear of the building), he had dropped a roll of quarters. He told me to go out and pick up every quarter. Any that was missing was coming out of my pay. As it turned out, ONE quarter was missing. I spend the better part of an hour retrieving all the quarters around the back of the restaurant, but couldn’t find that last quarter. He indeed took it out of my pay, and that ended up being the last time I worked for A&W. I still like their root beer though!
When you think about it, we all have many ‘firsts’ in our lives. Remembering them sometimes takes a bit of head-scratching. Some are good experiences, some are bad, and some can just be chalked up as ‘life lessons’.