By Elizabeth Veldboom
(This article originally appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters. With Mother’s Day coming up next weekend, I wanted to dedicate it not only to my own mom, but to all you mammas here at The Garden School Journal, both near and online. You are some of the greatest moms I know, and we at GSJ would like to take this moment to honor you. To help wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, we will also be giving away one free copy of The Magic of Mothers and Daughters! Please check back this Tuesday for more details.)
“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”
I saw this sign in a classroom: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” It was a simple statement, yet it evoked such gratitude, such happy memories from childhood, I couldn’t help but smile.
My mom was my teacher growing up. Since I was homeschooled from kindergarten until fifth grade, it was she who taught me how to read. The sign brought back memories of her holding up Hooked on Phonics cards and rejoicing with me when I got the right answer. It made me remember trying to copy her perfectly formed letters as she patiently waited by my side. Her helpful presence was always there as I graduated from the short Bob Books to longer books at the library.
It was she who first introduced me to Nancy Drew, and because of her I still have a bookshelf full of all fifty-six of them. Snuggled against her on our couch as she read, I listened as she transported me to mysterious times and places. It was magical to be so enveloped in a world not my own. Her steady voice guided me through books I didn’t have the ability to read yet, and I marveled at the treasure she held between her hands-this treasure she’d chosen to share with me. Sometimes while reading she’d even don a Scottish accent, just for me.
Each day she’d decide upon a certain number of chapters we’d be reading. But as she finished that last sentence on the predetermined page, I’d prepare my plea: “Please, Mom! Just one more. I have to know what happens!”
She’d protest at first, but always acquiesced in the end. With one more chapter stirring my imagination, I always left content, dreaming of what would happen next and looking forward to the next episode.
Throughout the years, I never lost my love for reading. The magic and excitement never changed for me. What did change was my need to have my mom read to me. I could begin and finish a book when I wanted and I didn’t need her to sit down with me to help me through it. Soon our precious reading time evaporated all together. Instead, I locked myself away in my room to read.
I became an independent teenager who still loved to read, but who had forgotten where she first acquired that love. I grew to love writing, too, and found it was almost impossible to express myself in any other way. What had once enthralled me as a listener, I could now create! It was a whole new kind of magic, but with a forgotten source.
Until the day I saw the sign. Suddenly, it all rushed back to me. The memories of looking over her shoulder as she read, catching words I hadn’t known before like gold flecks in a stream. Flying on as wonderful a magic carpet as Aladdin’s, watching people and scenery flow below. The sound of her sipping from the cup of coffee she always brought, and her playful voice telling me to make a “duck butt” for a capital G. I smiled, realizing I had someone to thank.
I couldn’t wait to rush home and tell her. As soon as I got back, I updated her about all the happenings from the day as she glided about the kitchen preparing dinner. Then I remembered.
“Oh! Mom. Thank you for teaching me how to read.”
For the first time she stopped, casserole in her mitted hands. With a quizzical brow she asked, “What? Where did that come from?”
“Thank you for teaching me how to read. I read a sign in Mr. Jabbour’s classroom today that said, ‘If you can read this, thank a teacher.’ Well, you’re the one who taught me. So thank you.”
A look of touched surprise came into her eyes. “Oh. Well, you’re welcome, honey.”
We shared a fond smile, each of us remembering a certain green couch where it all began. The memories only we could share. It was only a part of my childhood, but how special it was. But even more special was my mom, my teacher.
Because of her, I have found a passion and a career. Because of her, I have been encouraged, guided, and taught. Because of her, I am inspired to pass on to my own children one day the gift she gave to me.
What are some of your favorite memories from childhood?
Elizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Susie Magazine and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com