As the More is More Mom®, I am all about…..more reminiscing! I am a city gal; more specifically, a Northsider. I grew up four blocks from the Friendly Confines. I absolutely loved my neighborhood and cried great big crocodile tears when we moved from the city to the suburbs 14 years ago. Even though I was 28 years old, and a mother myself, I was going to miss being close to my own mom. What a cry baby! Clearly I am the Queen of Drama because as it turns out, we only moved 35 miles away.
Now, anytime I have an opportunity to head downtown, I jump at the chance. I couldn’t believe it; this week I had an appointment in the city which just so happened to be right across the street from St. Benedict’s, my very own grammar school and church. Chuck and I were even married there 20 years ago. I know you can’t go home again, but you can certainly pop in for a visit.
After my appointment, I decided to take a walk down memory lane. I walked up the church steps; where my brother and I would sit and wait for the 80 Irving Park Bus to take us home after school, where I walked in my cap and gown as I graduated from 8th grade (just like my Amanda did this spring) and where Chuck and I stepped out of the church, for the first time, as husband and wife.
I meandered down Leavitt Street and found myself at the entrance to the school. It looked exactly the way I remembered it; special. I have fond memories of visiting with my friends in the mornings (my tendency for visiting must have started in the womb) before we lined up, waiting for the doors to open. I was always so excited to go to school (okay, my High School experience wasn’t quite as stellar) because I adored my teachers and loved my friends. It was a very nice little bubble. The same kind of wonderful bubble my kids enjoyed at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations.
The temptation proved to be far too great; I had to go in. Never at a loss for words, I babbled on and on to the nice ladies in the office. I told them that I am rather wistful these days because my oldest is 18 and a senior in High School, while my youngest has left behind all of our wonderful years in grammar school and has embarked on her own High School career. I promised them that I had taken the mandatory workshop, “Protecting God’s Children” at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations years ago, so they agreed to take me on tour.
I loved it! St. Benedicts was exactly the same; busy hallways, friendly teachers and happy children. We went to what was once the school library. It was one of my favorite places, not because of the books, but because you could exit through the teachers lounge and swipe sugar cubes, back in the day before they were replaced with the more sanitary sugar packets. The girls would put them in their vest pockets and suck on them throughout the day.
One of my greatest memories has always been my fourth grade English teacher, Ms. Lach. She was famous for her “learning experiences.” Whenever a former student would come into her classroom she would always quiz them on grammar. She would ask things like, “What are the verbs of being” or “Sing the Preposition Song (which she made up, to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy).” My kids have also had a wonderful and memorable English teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations. Passionate teachers are a gift!
It was great to visit the courtyard, a concrete parking lot, where we had recess. There was no playground equipment, just asphalt, a jump rope and your imagination. It’s a Catholic School tradition, only my pals play a great game that I don’t remember; 4 square. On the other side of the courtyard was the school gymnasium. It is huge; basketball court, bleachers, a stage, a balcony, a reception area and huge concessions. I have so many fond memories of our gymnasium, particularly the time I spent as a cheerleader. The boys played basketball, and the girls did cheer. No volleyball or basketball for the girls, just cheer. That’s okay, it was loads of fun. We did a Pom Pom routine to Michael Jackson’s Working Day and Night (a life long love was born).
The very best part of my St. Benedicts experience, which I hope will provide the same fond memory for my children, was the feeling of family and community, particularly my parent’s involvement in the school. There’s nothing like having the opportunity to get involved, know your children’s teachers and friends. It’s a bigger gift that you receive than you give. Goodness is its own reward!
Thank you to my St. Benedict family. Were it not for you, we would never have fallen in love with Our Lady of Perpetual Donations. More family, more community, more commitment, more sense of belonging….