Last night, I served salad and ice cream on my grandmother’s dishes. Now, you might be picturing an elegant china bowl etched with a gold rim. Nope, not these dishes. These dishes are dark blue and plastic – plain as can be. There isn’t a full set anymore, either. I have one serving dish, three bowls, and four dessert plates. There probably never was a complete set, and I’m sure some broke along this way – this plastic is old and pretty brittle. It doesn’t matter how many I have. Each time I take them out, I remember my grandmother (grammy) and happy times.
You see, every summer, my grandparents packed up their trailer and took me on an adventure. On different trips, we traveled to Florida, Delaware, Cape Cod, and the Smokey Mountains. Each place was filled with so much to see, yet, sitting at the table in the trailer drinking warm Carnation Instant Breakfast drink and eating cheesy eggs served on blue plastic plates is my most vivid memory. There was something so comforting about sitting at her table. Maybe it was the way my grandmother stayed calm when chaos erupted. Perhaps it was how she carried on a conversation as she cooked. Or was it that nothing was particularly fancy? In every sense of the word, things were simple. She wasn’t always planning for what would come next. She wasn’t particularly worried about organizing things. She enjoyed what she was doing moment to moment.
Fast forward, forty years. Now my husband and I are an adventure in our tiny trailer. We are moving across the country without a detailed plan and eating our meals off my grandmother’s dishes. I’m sure we will see some gorgeous sites as we travel. But what I hope to get better at is the art of keeping things simple. When things are simple, you can listen with your whole self, unencumbered by the worries of what is to come.
I watched my grandmother live a “simple” life where everyone in her presence felt heard. This is the stance I want to bring to the classroom. It is a gift my grandmother gave me and a gift I hope to give myself and my future students.
I big thanks to Mandy Robek for coming to the campground for an outdoor distance dinner served on blue plastic plates.