Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Gift

Slate tablet as used in a German primary school in the early 1960s.
School was great! The girl wanted to learn, especially reading and writing. Her grandfather owned a bookshop in town with countless shiny new books on sale for adults and children. Her mother always read to her and her brother at bedtime and they had several fairy tales vinyl records at home that she loved. Some of them, she could nearly cite verbatim, but what she really wanted to do was read her own books.
They didn't own a television as her parents were of the opinion that TV for children was not a good idea. So when she wasn't running around in the park with her brother and friends, she sat at home playing with her toys or drawing. She had outgrown her colouring books and painted whatever came into her head. On rainy days, she would present her mother with several pictures a day and frequently ran out of suitable paper to draw on. Her mother, who was very resourceful, had started collecting the thin white cardboard used in the packaging of her stockings and handed them out, one at a time, when the girl had used up another one of her sketch pads.
Learning to write - the way it should look!
It was the last school day before the Easter holidays and the girl had not only finished her first year in primary school but she had also received her first ever school report. She had done well with her reading and spelling but her adding and subtracting wasn't as good as it could have been and neither was her handwriting. She tried, she really did, as she loved writing, but the letters she wrote on her slate tablet just wouldn't come out as nice as the ones the teacher had written on the blackboard, despite the special lines showing her where the letters were supposed to go.
That day, her mother picked her up from school and the girl proudly showed her the school report, handwritten by the teacher in a special copybook designed for school reports only. She was looking forward to showing it to her father too, a teacher who placed great emphasis on academic achievements.
On their way home, the girl skipped along singing to herself, her blond pigtails bobbing up and down with her every move. She was looking forward to the school holidays and Easter, hoping for some nice presents, as well as an Easter egg hunt.
When they got home, her mother smiled at the girl and said:
You've done really well at school and I'd like to get you something nice. What would you like?
The girl looked up at her mother and replied without hesitation:
"I'd like to have my hair cut, I want to have short hair!"
Her mother was shocked as she loved the girl's straight blond hair that she had always looked after, brushed and combed, plaited or tied up in a pony tail or bun. The girl, however, hated having her hair done and disliked the combing and pulling. She wanted to have short hair that didn't need to be plaited and fussed with.
Her mother tried to dissuade her from taking such drastic action, but the girl was adamant.
They went to her mother's hairdresser the following morning and the girl had her hair cut short. While she admired her new look in the mirror, her mother walked over to the hairdresser and asked to keep the girl's two blond plaits as a keepsake.