‘Making Waves’ by Luke Martin-Jones

There was a distinct chill in the air, lots of glum faces; a rumbling of discontent throughout the school, as pupils digested the latest attempt to reshape our place of learning, conforming to more traditional ideals. It was a few days earlier that each of us were given a letter to hand to our parents announcing the introduction of a new school uniform in keeping with the schools new name and status within the community in which it served. In was 1983, I was in my second year of senior school, at a time when Britain was suffering the spectre of recession. Money was in short supply, unemployment was high and the cost of living out of control. The last thing families needed was another bill to contend with; the price of our new identity would not come cheap. Understandably disaffection was bubbling to the surface, as pupils decided to take matters into their own hands.

It was late afternoon, double Science, probably one of my least liked subjects. Looking around the room, there seemed to be a lot of absences, the class was rather sparse and lackluster; the few of us who were there had thoughts elsewhere. As I glanced out of the window onto the playground below, I could see a group of students milling about, talking, shaking their heads, arms raised in consternation. Even I felt anxious and I didn’t know why. There was an atmosphere of revolution and insurrection; rebellion was in the air.

I could hear whispers behind my back, two classmates talking about joining the growing throng outside. One tapped me on the shoulder, ‘are you coming?’ they said. Confused I asked what they meant; I was oblivious to events unraveling around me. ‘We are going on strike; there’s a protest on the all weather pitch, everyone will be there!’ they exclaimed, encouraging me to join them and make our voices heard. I understood that there could have been a demonstration about the new rules being introduced at the school, but really brushed them aside as ‘just talk.’ I was surprised that my friends were taking matters into their own hands and a little apprehensive about what would happen to those of us who took part!

Briefly I thought about what I should do; looking out the window, I could see more and more classmates joining ‘pupil power’ in action. I turned back to face my peers, nodding my head in agreement. As our Science Teacher continued his lesson on photosynthesis, I duly packed my brown adidas bag and abruptly left the room, all three of us heading downstairs. ‘What do you think you are doing? Come back here now!’ I heard Mr Roche shout as we left the room; running quickly down the stairs and outside into the busy thoroughfare below, we joined everyone else in our campaign for justice!

I don’t remember the exact number who took part that day, though it was quite a few. Chanting and cursing we made our way through the school and onto the playground beyond, refusing to move until the powers that be, retracted the requirement for compulsory school uniforms. A sit down protest on the edge of school created waves, as teachers tried to encourage us to return to class. Of course as time went on and stomachs began to groan, pupils started to leave anyway. In truth when I look back to this time, I was carried along with the sea of emotion surrounding this stance. I really didn’t care if I had to wear a shirt and tie or not, in fact it was the best thing for the school, but when you become part of a crowd you tend to follow the course, losing all sense of reality, forgetting just what the initial action was about in the first place. As children, fickle to the core, a few hours off last thing in the afternoon, became our overriding ambition.

The school uniform remained, those of us who took part were given detention and we had our day in the local rag but the reasons for our discontent didn’t go away. Changing the identity of anything, whether school, person or brand, can only be done with the support and influence of all of those impacted. In future pupils and parents were consulted every step of the way. New rules were implemented without the frustration and anger that surfaced that day.

(First Published in Roaming Brit on 16th May, 2018)

Luke Martin-Jones

I first ‘met’ Luke when he published a post in our school group on Facebook. He was asking for short-stories or photos about Fareham Park School for a book that he was writing. At first, I was thinking whether I or my mum had any old school photos from junior school. Soon after, I wondered if I could share some events that I could remember at school.

The next day, I reached out to Luke to see what kind of stories he wanted and what kind of style he was looking for. He was very magnanimous with his time and said I could get a feel for what he was looking for on his blog where he had written a few articles on his childhood.

 

 

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Later in the day, I went on his blog and read a couple of his related articles. My mind kicked into action and I started thinking. (Which is really dangerous!). My penchant for perfectionism swung in and I had to read Luke’s blog from the beginning. It took me a couple of weeks. Luke’s bravery and courage, his honesty and love for writing hit me square in the face. Luke, through his writing, gifted me with the daring to write again.

Luke has encouraged me the past few months to write for his blog, Roaming Brit. As I started to write, I started to think. It has been a very long time since I have really thought. I usually keep myself really busy so I don’t have time to think. Now my thoughts are racing and writing has become therapeutic and a passion. I am so grateful to Luke for this gift.

Since Luke has been so generous in asking me to be a regular guest blogger on his site, I now look forward to featuring his articles here. Please find his first article for Once Upon A Wren before this one.

Welcome Luke! It’s great to have you onboard!

24

I had just fallen asleep; no more than half an hour ago. I remember looking at the clock before I drifted away, it was 10.24pm. I could see the bright hall light at the foot of my bedroom door. Even then I had to have the room dark, no luminescence at all, covering anything up that interrupted my line of sight; I just couldn’t sleep otherwise! Despite my need for darkness, I was always scared of the night, often diving under the covers at the slightest hint of something suspicious in the room. Like the story of my life, I was contradictory in every sense of the word; most definitely the product of a bipolar mind.

I woke up panicking twenty four minutes later; another bad dream. I often experienced those strange reoccurring visions that never went away; I still do. I was standing in a newly ploughed field, not a soul in sight for miles around. Behind me was a small white house, rather dishevelled, leaning slightly to one side; broken windows, broken door; holes in the roof, illuminating the abandonment inside. The number on the letterbox, held on by a single screw, was 24. In front of me was a tall white picket fence, with no gate, a barrier yet to cross. This was the first time I remembered this dream and wouldn’t be the last. The details changed a little over the years, but essentially the theme was always the same.

I could feel the warm light of day on my face, eyes still tightly shut, avoiding the early morning sun; Mother banged on my bedroom door. ‘It’s time to get up, you’ll be late for school!’ she shouted firmly walking back downstairs. I laid there for just a moment remembering the night; once again the number twenty four popped into my head. This number meant something to me and I didn’t know what. I was always a young lad who thought too much, reading significance into the most ‘matter of fact,’ ordinary events.

Last thing in the afternoon, before home time, it was double mathematics. I hated it despite getting an O level in the subject. I would often day dream, thinking about what I could write in my journal, my passion, even at eleven years old. In front of me, sat my orange coloured exercise book, pristine and clear, not a mark or blemish anywhere to be seen. I picked up a black biro and began doodling on the surface. The number twenty four, enclosed with a ring of ink; again and again I wrote the number down, heavier and heavier each time, marking the pages inside. What was that number all about, what did it mean to me and why was it still in my head. I sat there glazed eyes, shook my head, trying to shake the number from my mind. I got a smack across my knuckles that day for defacing my work book, but was worth it; a reminder of things to come.

As a young boy growing up, I always remembered the dream, the time on the clock, the number in my head; it remains with me to this very day. At twenty four years old I met my partner, in 1995; the most significant moment in my life. I’m expecting great things on our twenty fourth anniversary next year. The first house we bought together was, yup you guessed it, number twenty four; a beautiful stone cottage on the Lancashire Yorkshire boarder and the house we moved to in Spain, when we left the UK was once again the number twenty four.

I am a firm advocate of fate and believe this number runs through my life line, playing a major role in my destiny. Mumbo jumbo, I hear you say, well maybe you are right, but maybe you’re not. For me it is special; a reminder of my childhood and a suggestion of my future as yet unknown. It isn’t until it pops up again that I recall its importance, just like today, at the checkout in Mercadona, 24,24€!

(First published in Roaming Brit on 2nd May, 2018)

Out-of-the-Loop

So it’s been a tough few weeks emotionally. Already feeling tender from the events from the past year, any other incidents just seem to rub me up the wrong way. So three separate incidents happened over the past month each sharing the common thread of being ‘left-out-of-the loop’.

The decisions that were made affected my work description and processes, so not really something I should have been left out of. It would have been nice to have been involved in the discussions but if that wasn’t the plan, then I think it was quite essential to have been informed about the decision rather than finding out accidentally and realizing that others knew and I didn’t.

Being included in the discussion would have been beneficial for me because I am a team of one as they told me when I started this job a year ago. “We would like you to run with this job with the same enthusiasm as you have with all the other positions you’ve had here,” they said. ‘It’s your baby and you can do whatever you need to be able to do the job.” So changing my responsibilities and processes without my involvement totally didn’t meet with my expectations. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me as I have worked in this company long enough to know that the exceptions to the rules are the norm. However, to me these two types of communications are conflicting and confusing as well as embarrassing and upsetting.

Besides being hurt and disrespected by being left out of the conversation and not being told of important decisions that affect my processes and how I interact with others with regards to those processes, I felt invisible, unimportant, humiliated, frustrated and demotivated. Since I am intrinsically motivated to do my work, these feelings work against my sense of ownership of my job and, therefore, my efficiency and production.

Having experienced events that my former manager said ‘really stank’ last year and then the emotional abuse from my trainer in this new job for about ten months, these more recent communication issues lead me to jump to those thoughts again that it is a set up to make me leave. Unfortunately, the sum total of these events have almost destroyed my confidence and have left me wondering what is wrong with me – hence my decision to visit with a therapist to get a reality check and to arm myself with tools to move forwards. If I don’t learn these things, then these situations will follow me wherever I go.

So I have been unable to see my therapist for a few weeks – she is pretty popular! So being distressed about these events, I turned to ….. the internet. Yes, I know, not always the most reliable source of information! When I read things on the internet though, I do try to be discerning, to see who has sponsored the article and look to see what truth I can gleam from each article. I also like to see if the articles match my principles and values and are inline with eternal truths that I find in the scriptures.

I came across two articles about ‘being kept out-of-the-loop:

• “The Hidden Dangers of Leaving Someone Out of the Loop” by Heidi Grant Halvorson.

• “Are you being paranoid about being left out of the loop at work?’ by Allison Hirschiag.

I resonated more with Heidi’s article than I did with Allison. I felt minimized by Allison’s article perhaps because the title and contents of of her article talk about paranoia and I need validation and an understanding of the situation.

To summarize Heidi’s article: First of all it identified that my feelings are reasonable and normal. ‘You [can] expect the excluded person to be, at the very least, a little annoyed’.

She said that research shows that leaving someone out of the loop undermines the four fundamental needs:

1. The need for belonging and connection to others;

2. Self-esteem;

3. The need for a sense of control and effectiveness; and

4. The need for meaningful work.

I would probably extend the definition of these four fundamental needs using the six needs of ‘certainty/comfort’; ‘variety’; ‘connection’; ‘significance’; ‘growth’; and ‘contribution’ identified by Derek Doepkoer in ‘The Healthy Habit Revolution’. These needs drive our behaviour by giving us emotional rewards.  In essence:

1. The need for belonging and connection to others;

2. Self-esteem/significance;

3. The need for control and effectiveness or, in other words, certainty and comfort;

4. The need for meaningful work which includes variety, growth and contribution.

Studies also show that this leaving someone out of the loop communicates rejection. ‘Human beings are acutely sensitive to social rejection and ostracism’, writes Heidi. It also generates a perception of low status or standing within the group. Along with the rejection and the perception of low status, the behaviour has the following consequences:

• A loss of trust;

• A loss of loyalty;

• A loss of motivation; and

• A loss of connection between a boss or colleagues.

Heidi further expounds on whether or not leaving someone out of the loop was an intentional or unintentional act, a person may still feel ostracized because if they were respected or important to the other person, they would have remembered.

Heidi advises managers to think long and hard about these issues. If they plan to intentionally leave someone out of the loop, they should assess the risk of short-term gains over the longer and more damaging psychological damage that behaviour inflicts and the resulting loss of trust, cooperation, loyalty and motivation.

As much as Heidi addresses the manager’s responsibility in choosing what action to take regarding this phenomenon, Allison focuses more on the recipient. She advises the recipient to step back from the situation and to reassess it from a different paradigm. She suggests that the recipient take time out to make sure that they are physically fit and emotionally in control so that their outlook is not distorted. I think that this is good advise as one doesn’t want to act in the heat of the moment. It is better to be proactive than reactive.

Once time has been taken to assess one’s outlook, if the circumstances seem to be the same, Allison recommends talking ‘to a confident at work (or a career coach) ‘ to see if these incidents should be investigated further. Allison proposes that an option could be to talk to your boss but with discernment as to what you should bring up. Alternatively, one could let it go and learn to live with uncertainty. I think that the latter is pretty hard to do as it violates the need for a sense of control, effectiveness, certainty or comfort. One has to continue to work in a psychologically damaging atmosphere. Finally, Allison proposes that the recipient has a backup plan and prepares for engagement in another job.

In Allison’s article, there was only one affirmation for the recipient’s concerns regarding being left out of the loop. She cited that ‘studies at Harvard University have shown that anxious thoughts can have a negative impact on your productivity – which could lead to you actually losing your job’. However there were four negative pronouncements. She states that the recipient should leave paranoia at the door. To me, to address the recipient’s feelings as paranoia is not very validating. Yes, one becomes anxious in these situations but to suggest that one has mental disorder due to poorly executed management techniques seems to be adding insult to injury.

The word ‘paranoia’ is a very strong word with highly negative connotations. Allison states that leaving people out of the loop is a common trigger sparking paranoiac behaviour in the office. She quotes Dr. Menard who says that recipients ‘expect others to judge them as harshly as they judge themselves, yet they’re almost always wrong’. Being told that what I feel is wrong or that my perceptions of the situation are not valid is degrading and demeaning.

On the other hand, I think that Allison is trying to allude to the extremes one’s thinking can go especially if one is a perfectionist. Since I am a perfectionist, you can see an example of this when I jump to the idea that the whole thing is a set up to make me leave.

I also feel that, in my case, being excluded from discussions for process and job changes that were in the sphere of my responsibilities devalues me as a person. It demonstrates that management does not think that I could come up with a solution to the problem and that my opinions or insights lack value or are meaningless. It leaves me with a feeling that I don’t belong. I find the contrast between Allison and Heidi stark on the the reaction of the recipient. Heidi is saying that it is normal for a human to be angry in this situation, whereas Allison is saying when the recipient reacts, they go to the level of paranoia.

Allison winds up her thoughts by saying ‘but if you consistently do good work and add value to the company, there’s often not much more you can do. For example, layoffs can happen for any number of reasons, few of which are directly related to your individual performance.” This really sums up the powerlessness a recipient can feel when their managers make a habit of keeping them out of the loop on important decisions, meetings, changes to processes, etc.

So having read these two articles, what did I learn and how can I apply it to my situation? I think that I rejected the paranoiac concepts. I actually think it is bad manners to not keep someone in the loop. I don’t care who it is. I also think it is poor management. It creates a divisive atmosphere in a team. Good communication creates unity and increases productivity. As a recipient of the behaviour I have zero control over the situation except to exercise total responsibility for my behaviours and to prepare myself for different employment. Contesting the issues creates more conflict especially when one is criticizing one’s own managers who do not acknowledge their weaknesses or do not want to change. I fear drawing appropriate boundaries would probably lead to the need to seek other employment but would leave one’s self-respect intact. As a leader and teacher in my family and also at church, I can make sure that I try to implement the good practice of keeping those I interact with in the loop. I can focus on the good in others. I can respect individuals and our diversity. I can value all efforts that people make and can emphasis people’s potential and ability to grow. If I unintentionally mess up then I can strive to make sure that the person I left out feels respected and valued. In my efforts to keep and maintain unity in my family and within my church family, I can expect a high degree of bonding, loyalty, motivation and an effectiveness in our efforts to work together.

First Published in Roaming Brit on April 11th, 2018.

Why Not Change Jobs?

100_0653-2Last time I wrote about the way things lie at work, I posed the question ‘Why not change my job?’ Yes, this is a question that I wrestle with constantly. There are three reasons that keep me in this job right now:

Firstly, one of the biggest benefits for working for my current company is that I now work remotely for them. I used to work in the Minneapolis office when I first started. When my husband retired, we decided to move out to Utah so that we could see the grandchildren grow up. We knew that money would be tight and if we continued to live in Minnesota, then we would only be able to afford to go out to Utah maybe every other year. We so wanted to be a part of grandchildren’s lives.

So we decided to take a leap of faith and move. If my company didn’t keep me on, the plan was for me to temp and get a permanent position that way. In Minnesota, there are staffing agencies that will place you into a permanent position for a fee to the employer. However, in Utah, they don’t have those types of agencies and prefer a temp-to-hire situation so that the companies here can see if you are a good fit.

I approached my boss’ boss and let her know of our plans and whether she would like me to continue with the company as a remote employee since I had incorporated process improvements in my job so that there was no paper involved and I could do the whole thing on the computer. She took it up with her boss who agreed to let me work remotely for three months so that we could get on our feet with a new home and a job in Utah.

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Out of our window in Minnesota.

We sold our house in Minnesota in a day to a cash buyer and had to be out in three weeks. We moved into our daughter’s basement temporarily and put most of our stuff in storage until we found a place to live. After being in Utah for three weeks, the Chief Financial Officer left the company and my boss’ boss called me to ask if I would like to stay on permanently. We were thrilled. Now knowing that I had permanent job, we looked for a house.

100_0662It is a wonderful commute to my office. I love working from home. I am really focused; don’t get distracted; except for the past year, I didn’t have to put up with office politics; and I am more productive.

The second reason for not changing my job is the financial aspect. There is quite a large salary disparity between the two states of Minnesota and Utah although the standard of living is no different. In fact, food and petrol seems more expensive here. The price of Minnesota housing dropped significantly from 2006 through 2014. We lost most of our equity in our house. Utah’s property prices actually remained stable during that time. My husband and I haven’t quite worked out why such young people out here in Utah can afford these expensive houses. We certainly couldn’t. There is a high propensity of women staying at home with their children here too. Most couples have two cars. In the States, it is not easy to get around without a vehicle. You can’t really walk to the shops.

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Downtown Minneapolis

Everything is so big and spacious. Unlike England, the bus services and train services are not as prevalent. In Minnesota, for example, I didn’t even know where the train station was and never saw any signs to it, if it existed. So unlike hopping on a train to get from Fareham to York, I have no idea how one would get on the cross country trains out here. In Minnesota, for one job, I used to take a bus downtown, but it’s not like you could get on a bus and easily go from one town to another. I found the system very hard to navigate. So since my husband is now retired, my salary is important for us to pay the bills. Doing a similar job in Utah would reduce my salary by almost half.

The final reason for trying to stick this job out, is because this type of conflict will follow me around. I have experienced this before in a couple of jobs out here. I do really well in my job for a few years and then another element (person) is introduced to the mix and I get targeted. So there is something in me that really wants to try and make this work. After a few more instances of poor communication and being left out of the loop the past couple of weeks, I’m not sure if I will succeed, but I want to give it one more chance. However, the relationships are pretty shot and I’m not sure if they are repairable. I feel that I no longer have any trust with the people involved and I don’t know how to rectify that since in my perspective, trust has to be earned.

(First published in Spanish Views on 3rd April, 2018)

All Things Crafty

One of my favourite lessons in Miss Trill’s class at Fareham Park Junior School was sewing! I do not recall if Miss Trill taught the lessons or another teacher came in to help with the activity. I remember cutting out the green material for the rabbit and doing the embroidery for its face. I remember sewing it up by hand. I don’t remember what I stuffed it with, but I do remember the great feeling of satisfaction I felt when it was finished. I also got to make a lion. Looking back I’m surprised that I could sew. It was as if I always could.

My mum keeps these two hand made toys on her bed. She has had them for over forty-five years! I don’t remember what the other children in my class made. I think this may be due to being so engrossed in this project.

From this experience at school, I have developed a great love for making things with yarn and thread. My friend’s mother taught her how to crochet. I remember her teaching me to do a crochet stitch. One day my friend and I sat in the Wendy house that my Dad made at the bottom of my garden and we crocheted. I was so fascinated by it that I saved up my pocket money and bought a crochet book and some wool. I must have been about ten years old. From this crochet book, I taught myself how to crochet. I made a little cardigan out of crochet motifs for our neighbour who had a baby girl. I made blankets – saving up my pocket money for wool. At the bottom of Fareham Park Road, there was a little wool shop. I remember the shop being very small and cramped, but I loved to go into it and look at the colours of the wool and imagined what I was going to do with it. I have missed this shop so much. It was taken over by a grocer for many years. Now I can’t really tell which shop it was. Last time I went home, things had changed so much at the bottom of Fareham Park Road. The Post Office that stood on the corner is now someone’s house and the pub opposite has been demolished. The other shops are all different businesses and the launderette is now a dry cleaners. I spent many hours on Thursdays at the launderette doing the family’s washing. Everything up Fareham Park Road to Coppice Way seems so built up now with new housing taking the place of bungalows and land. It seems very cramped and claustrophobic.

My grandmother was a seamstress. To help the family budget, she would make people clothes and do alterations. She would also knit. She would give me her left-over wool which would go into my blankets or I would make dolls clothes with them. My grandchildren now play with those dolls clothes. My grandmother lived into her 90’s. When she felt too tired to do any more knitting or crochet, she gave me her needles which I still have. When she moved out of her house in Highfield, Southampton, she gave me her old Singer sewing machine. It is a treadmill sewing machine in a cabinet. This sewing machine has sat in my homes in Telford in Shropshire, England; California, Arizona, Minnesota and now in Utah. One day it will be passed on to my daughter and her daughters.

In senior school, a friend’s mother came in after school and ran an embroidery club. I remember that I had quite a conflict when this opportunity came as I had also been approached by Mr. Mullins to learn how to sail after school. Both after school activities were on the same night. The pull to go and sew was greater than the pull to go yachting. This was probably because I was worried that I would get seasick. One time we went on board the Ark Royal when my Dad was returning home from a trip at sea. We went out on a smaller boat, boarded the Ark Royal, and then sailed back into port. Unfortunately I spent most of my time on deck. We had been in the mess below, but I had become quite queasy and had to go up on deck to get some fresh air. It has always been a standard joke in my family that I can get seasick even when the engines are not running. When traveling across the English Channel in future years, I usually fell asleep for the whole trip after taking some Dramamine!

When I travelled to University on the train from Fareham to York, I taught myself to knit. I got quite a lot done on that journey. As a young mum, I took up cross stitch. I had done this a little bit in embroidery class. Now I go to any of these activities in my spare time especially when I need to relax or ponder. They are my therapy! I think it is amazing how an activity in junior school had such an huge impact on my life.

(First published in Spanish Views on 25th March, 2018)

The Easter Hat

Mrs Trill’s fourth year juniors at Fareham Park School were invited to take part in a class Easter bonnet parade. We were all very excited – probably the girls were more excited than the boys. I didn’t know if I would be able to make an Easter bonnet to participate – that would be up to my mum.

Mum wasn’t really into sewing although she could sew. She wasn’t into cooking unless it was the usual meals that she prepared – they were simple and delicious. She made maths cards for the pupils in her class and she liked to do the display boards. Mum was artistic but not really into making things especially Easter bonnets.

My luck was in! My Dad was home from sea for a long weekend and he was volunteered to help me make the Easter bonnet! Dad and I are pretty much alike. We love to help others, we like to be creative, but we aren’t very good at creating with others. We like to do our own thing. So Dad made my Easter bonnet. I remember him measuring my head to cut out the circle on a piece of cardboard. I would have loved to have helped him stick on crumpled up tissue paper but it was late and I had to go to bed.

I was very excited when I woke up the next morning to see my Easter bonnet. The parade was that day. I dreamed of looking really pretty in this Easter bonnet and maybe even winning the prize. I got washed and dressed and ran downstairs for breakfast searching for the Easter bonnet as I went. Maybe Dad had it out in the garage. I did see an orange triangular prism shaped object on the dining room table. It had brick-like lines on it and looked like the roof of a house.

Mum was super organized and had put out the breakfast cereal, bowls and spoons the night before. My sister and I ate out in the kitchen. We had some nice orange bar stools with backs on them that fit comfortably under the counter in the kitchen. Whilst eating my breakfast, my Dad came downstairs. Mum was in the bathroom getting ready for work.

“Did you see your hat?” He asked. He seemed so happy that he had been able to help me with my Easter bonnet.

“No,” I replied. “Where is it?”

“It’s on the dining room table”.

I don’t know if he saw my perplexed look. I didn’t remember seeing an Easter bonnet on the dining room table.

“I made you a roof. I thought that would be a pretty good Easter hat”, my Dad said. “I just figured out how to put the chimney on it. As soon as you have finished breakfast, try it on. It should be finished with it by then”.

I gulped. A flood of emotions came over me. I was so disappointed that I didn’t have a pretty flowered Easter bonnet to wear. I was so thankful that my Dad had made me a hat. I was worried how others would react to my unique hat. I was so happy that my Dad was happy and excited about helping me make a hat.

The hat fit my head well and I was able to balance it on my head. Dad had put some orange ribbons on it so that it would stay on. Due to it’s large size I had to hold my head just so, so that it didn’t topple off my head or shift its position. Dad said that he would give me a lift to school in the car as the hat was probably a little bulky to carry to school. I grabbed my satchel and put on my coat and shoes and we were off to school.

School was just up the road. It took me about ten to fifteen minutes to walk to school depending on how fast I walked. Today, I was there in five minutes. I struggled out of the car with my satchel and reached in to grab my Easter bonnet. “Thanks so much, Dad!” I called out as I shut the door.

“My roof – my Easter bonnet – was kind of awkward to carry. The bell rang and we lined up in our classes. As our class walked in to school and to our classroom, I avoided my classmates eyes. We put our Easter bonnets on the top of the bottom cabinets, went to our desks and proceeded with our day.

The day dragged on by. I wished I was back at home and enjoying the weekend and that the Easter bonnet parade was over. Then all too soon, lunch was over, the final playtime was over and it was time to put on our Easter bonnets and parade in front of our class. I took a big gulp and decided I would wear my hat proudly. My sweet Dad had made my hat and I was proud of my Dad and his love and effort for me.

I wore the hat perfectly. It didn’t slip to one side and it didn’t fall off. Dad’s hat won a special place in my heart. Maybe others laughed and mocked but they did not know that my hat symbolized my Dad’s love for me. What better way to remember Easter and all it stood for. A gift from my father.

(First published on Spanish Views on 20th March 2018)