ECS 110: Self and Other

This course has a big impact on teachers to-be. Its a time for us to open up to each other and analyse our experiences in ways beyond our own feelings. Its about getting to know our fellow teachers while learning about other people and getting to know ourselves along the way. Here I have included my four “Writing the Self” blog posts. Each one gave me a fresh insight on different aspects of the world around me.

Writing the Self #1 – Grandmas Kitchen

September 14, 2017

Its on a chilly December morning that I walk into my Grandmas kitchen. I don’t know how many days I’ve been here, but I know I don’t have to go home until after Christmas. Classic country is playing gently in the background. I wonder silently if that radio ever gets turned off. Grandma is sitting at her computer desk playing her PC crossword game. I can smell the cigarette burning between her fingers.

Today we plan to make Christmas sugar cookies. Just one batch today, we will make another when the rest of the family gets here. I see that Grandma has most of the ingredients out on the counter already. She prepared everything before I woke up. I grab myself a chair and push it to the counter so I can help. We get started right away. I know I could make this recipe all by myself, if my arm was stronger. I mix and mix until it gets sore. I spilled a little from the bowl but my Grandmas quick hands sweep it up and throw it back in. Then she takes over with the mixing. We have been chatting since I came upstairs. Our conversations are never very significant. We just like to talk. We explore topics everywhere from her childhood to my future. My Grandma knows more about me than anyone else.

Once our dough is finished, we take it to the table and roll it out. I like to do the rolling. “don’t roll it too thin now, that should be enough” she reminds me. She brings me some cookie cutters. Grandma takes each tray to the oven and sets the timer. We make the perfect team. Once the last cookie is cut we begin to clean up. She loads the dishwasher and I wash the table and counters. I busy myself with a craft while my Grandma takes a nap. We mix up some icing and decorate a few dozen cookies that afternoon. Its still early, so I put on my winter clothes and go outside to play. I see my Grandpa sitting at his desk through the window if his shop. I wave to him. He waves back. I start to make a snowman. My Grandma, sitting on the deck with a cigarette, suggests that turn it towards Grandpas window. That way, he can look at it all winter. So I do just that. She helps me find a scarf and little stones to make a face.

Before I know it, its supper time. My Grandpa comes inside to eat with us. He wanders into the kitchen and I wrap my arms around him. “Well if it isn’t my favorite little red head, what did you girls do today?” he asks. I begin to tell him all about our day. Grandma reminds me to lower my voice since I tend to talk loud and fast when I get excited. My Grandpa is a very brilliant but sometimes grumpy old man. He doesn’t like noise. He listens intently as he lowers himself into his spot at the table. Grandma sets a hot bowl of cabbage rolls in front of him and turns around to warm up mine. Once we are all seated, we begin to eat. The cabbage rolls are very hot, but they taste magnificent. Grandpa thanks me for the snowman and compliments my work. “You are very creative, just like your Grandma”. I see them smile at each other.

Supper is over now and my Grandma asks me to get our dessert. I go to the counter and pick three cookies from the Tupperware container. Two of them are iced; mine is the biggest, and one is plain. Grandpa doesn’t like icing on his sugar cookies so we always leave one tray plain for him. I devour my sugar cookie and ask if I may have another. My Grandma smiles. “How you stay so small, I will never know”. I take that as a yes and grab myself one more.

As my grandma tucks me into bed that night, I close my eyes and reflect, on a perfect day.

Writing the Self #2- Birthday Cake in the Sprayer

September 28, 2017

It was June 6, 2016, my nineteenth birthday. My dad brought home a cake from Regina, and my mom made us sit at the table for supper. Since it didn’t rain that day, my boyfriend Colby was spraying just north of town. After supper, I boxed up two slices of my cake and took it out to the field. Most crops were just starting to come up now so everywhere I looked was green.

When I arrived, I could see that Dave, Colby’s Grandpa, was waiting with the water truck. He wished me a Happy Birthday and asked me about my new job. I was working at Crop Production Services for the summer and I loved it.  Colby pulled up in the sprayer then, and Dave wandered over to help him fill the tank with water. I stood by the truck and my phone started ringing. I answered and heard Colby’s Grandma. She asked me what I did for my birthday and I talked to her until Colby and Dave got the sprayer ready to go again. I wandered over and climbed up into the sprayer. When Colby started to drive I took a deep breath. This place is where I feel most relaxed. I could ride in the field with him all day. Colby is the best listener. I handed him a piece of cake and told him all about my day at work and my family supper. He promised me that on the next day it rains, he would take me out for a birthday supper date. I would take this over a real date any day, but I appreciated the gesture so we made it a plan. I thought to myself that eating my birthday cake in the sprayer could be a new tradition for us and it made me feel like a true Saskatchewan farm girl.

As the sun set that evening, I watched bugs swarm around the exterior lights. I was starting to feel tired, but I didn’t want to go home. I wish I could spend every day in the field with my love, my best friend.

Writing the Self #3- Afternoon at the Mall

October 10, 2017

Today we are walking slowly through the mall. My mom only navigates my sister’s stroller through the crowds when we are in a hurry. Today is not one of those days. We are killing time before our dentist appointments. I enjoy looking at all the window displays and at all the people. Since the mall is busy, I’m careful to hold tightly onto the stroller as we walk. Mom has warned us many times about getting lost and not talking to strangers. My little brother is braver than I am. He’s walking in circles around us. I watch people as we walk by them. I see old people and young people. Some with disabilities and some with large birthmarks on their face. Mom quietly reminds me not to stare at these people, because it might hurt their feelings. As we cross through the food court, I notice many different smells. There is lots of noise coming from the tables. I see other kids my age and even some babies which I love! We walk by a table where a Chinese couple are sitting. I look at their baby first, then at their food. It looks different than something I would like to eat. I hurry to catch up to mom again. She takes my hand as we walk by that man who dresses funny, this isn’t the first time we have seen him at the mall. He’s the one that mumbles to himself and I feel my moms hand hold a little tighter onto mine. Before we get close to him, Mom reminds me not to stare, as it isn’t polite. I do as I’m told by looking at the floor. I notice that the man isn’t wearing any shoes and ask my mom why that is. She explains to me that some people don’t have shoes to wear. As we get closer to the exit, I see an African American man coming through the door. I look at him not because I’m afraid, but because he looks different than me and my family. Mom reminds me not to stare again so I do not hurt this mans feelings.

Writing the Self #4- Fishing

October 27, 2017

I had a typical childhood of a girl. I shared a bedroom with my sister and we had many toys that followed the standard of a little girl’s room. My brother got his own room, and his own toys because he was a boy. I think my siblings were my first indication of gender and how our mother explained the concept to us. I never minded these separations, they just felt natural to me.

Mom used to paint my nails, then my sister would go next. My brother would feel left out and so mom would paint only his big toenail, “because Mark is a boy”. This was a small but powerful gesture that gave us kids some insight on the separation between our genders. Our father had some different views on gender that gave us a clearer indication of our role as girls and as boys. In my family, the men would go on hunting and fishing trips while the girls would spend a day shopping, or go to a hotel for a night. As a girl, I was NEVER allowed to attend fishing or hunting trips. My mom would explain “It’s a guy thing” and distract me with a fun “girls only” activity. Being the stubborn red-head that I am, I never gave up on my desire to go fishing with the boys.

An opportunity presented itself when I was in the fifth grade. The family took a trip to Rowans Ravine. Dad spent most of the trip on the water. I asked him every night to wake me up when he left in the morning. He never did. “You looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to disturb you honey”. On the second last day, I took matters into my own hands. I was determined to go fishing with Dad. I climbed out of bed as soon as I saw daylight, quietly, as to not wake my siblings. I wanted it to be just me and Dad. I tiptoed to the table and waited patiently until he woke up. He was quite startled to see me up so early! I played it casual, as though I hadn’t lost hours of sleep in hopes to get to this moment. I could see amusement in his eyes, I was ready to prove myself. We got to the docks around 7am. I was wide awake once the boat started going. I loved riding on the water and the cool air on my face was so refreshing. We stopped on the west side of the lake. There, Dad helped me set up my rod and attached the hook I chose. He explained how to cast from a boat and did a quick demonstration. I caught on quick, recalling the crash coarse he gave me on the shore of Dunnet Regional Park, two years ago. I was quiet. Resisting all urges to chat his ear off. I wanted to prove to him that I could be just like my brother. I caught three decent sized fish that day, and a fair few more that we released. At the end of the day I felt triumph as I walked through the cabin doors. I told my Mom about my productive day as a fisher-woman and tried not to get jealous at the sight of melted ice cream on my sister’s face. To this day, I still enjoy fishing with my Dad. I almost always catch the biggest fish. I know that he loves my company, as long as I leave something for him to catch!