A World of Pure Imagination...and Phil Collins

4 minutes

InterExchange Working Abroad Ambassador Sarah, Teach English France:

Sarah and her mother enjoying the splendor of the French countryside.[/caption]

A certain Wiley Coyote cartoon or mom-approved breakfast cereal can send me into a starry-eyed reverie of nostalgia in which I yearn to relive my childhood. But, let's be honest. Would I really want to go back? Really?

I grew up with brothers who were 5 and 8 years older than me. I answered to the names of "Sasquatch" and "Yeti" (thanks to their sensitivity during a very early growth spurt). When I wasn't being tickled until I cried and pinned to the ground while my tender head was farted upon, I was fighting for my life in a game we called, "Karate Chair." I won't go into great detail, but I can tell you that our La-Z-Boy recliner became an unwitting accomplice in some unspeakable acts of terror. Even my attempts at being girly were thwarted. I'll never forget the horror of opening my tub of Barbies one day to find that many of them had participated in "experiments" with my brother's fireworks and a set of darts. Chilling.

As a tutor to a 5-year-old girl, I am exploring my childhood once more. I am happy to report that things have gone a bit differently in the absence of a Y chromosome. Here is a collection of some of our finer moments from the past couple of weeks.

Scene Un

Nan wants to put on a "show" for me in the playroom. "AND NOW PRESENTING…NAN, THE CLOWN!!!" The production begins. As I have a healthy fear of clowns, I am grateful for the brevity of this segment. Next up, "NAN, THE MAGICIAN!" I close my eyes while she runs to her room and back to make a bottle of perfume "appear" in her hat. The crowd of one goes wild. Nan pulls out a basket of instruments, and I get a mini-concert for each one: maracas, drum, castanets, xylophone and the regal triangle. The show ends with a ballerina dance followed by impressions of an array of farmyard creatures. I am all smiles until I hear two terrible words: "Your turn." I then have to recreate the ENTIRE show. Not a single maraca is left unshaken or jester hat left unworn. If these walls could talk, I would pay good money for them to keep their mouths shut about what they've seen.

Scene Deux

About 8 pillows are arranged in an evenly spaced line on the floor of the hallway outside Nan's bedroom. She explains that we are going to jump from pillow to pillow to get from one side to the next. Looking from our socked feet to the heavily polished wooden floor, my brow wrinkles with concern. "Don't be sad," Nan cheerily explains. "If you are brave, you won't slip and fall." Well, I didn't slip, but running into the wall made me a little sad. It also kinda hurt my hand.

We somehow seamlessly move into a much less dangerous, but much more awkward, activity. Nan wants us to take turns coming up with songs about her My Little Pony doll, Rarity, while prancing down the hall. Look out, Mary Poppins.

Scene Trois

Teaching English in France AND rediscovering my childhood![/caption]

The radio is on and we are dancing in Nan's bedroom to A-Ha's 80s classic, "Take on Me." The scene is one of uninhibited chaos, and we fearlessly add props like feathers and glittery magic wands to enhance our twirls and booty shaking. The song ends and we stop to catch our breaths. That's when Phil Collins starts crooning "Groovy Kind of Love." After a few lines, Nan looks up at me. "This is a sad song." "Yeah, it is a little slow, " I admit. Silence follows before I add, "This is by Phil Collins." Without skipping a beat, Nan replies, "Oh, sure. I know Phil Collins. He Rarity's favorite. She listen to him ALL the time." Rarity's musical preferences don't seem to mean a whole lot, as the radio is soon turned to Shakira in order to resume aforementioned booty shaking. Groovy.

Scene Quatre

Play time with one of Nan's dollhouses. She introduces me to the dolls. "Flora" is a scientist (as denoted by the test tube in her hand). She builds robots. "Moon" is holding a cell phone. "She has a friendboy," Nan explains. "She love him so much. She write poem." Overall, the next two doll roommates seem to have happy and fulfilling lives—and then we get to the doll named "Sarah." She has long brown hair and is holding a pink spray bottle. "You know why she has this?" Nan asks, pointing at the bottle. "It's for cleaning poop." Good to know where I stand. I'm sure poop cleaning is just a temporary job to support Sarah through med school before curing cancer.

Wall collisions and solo sideshow performances aside, my second childhood is shaping up nicely. In fact, the closest I've ever gotten to the degradation of my own childhood occurred while teaching Nan new vocabulary. I described the word "enormous," only to have her respond, "Oh! Like you!" I could only nod my head in agreement. There are worse things than being internationally recognized for one's enormity. I can't think of anything right now, but it'll come.

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