Wednesday, November 5, 2014

work days with Mom.

When I was a kid, there were a few things that made me absolutely giddy with excitement: The Lion King, visits from cousins, trips to Colorado… and going to work with Mom.

Yeah, I know. How exciting could that be?

Believe me when I tell you that it was one of the most exciting things that could happen to me when I was young. Going to Mom’s office was a rare treat, and I was (hopefully) on my best behavior for fear of ever losing the privilege.

During the summer, I spent a lot of time in Brookings. I took swimming lessons there, and Mom would typically drop me off at Grandpa Harvey and Grandma Lorraine’s house before work. Grandma and Grandpa would take me to swimming lessons, and we’d spend the rest of the day doing whatever it is that my six-year-old heart desired: eating at McDonald’s, playing on the swings at Hillcrest Park, perusing the public library, and inevitably ending up at the SDSU Dairy Bar for ice cream. Summer days with Grandma and Grandpa were awesome.

However, Grandma and Grandpa did have lives. Occasionally, they would be busy and unable to watch me for the day.  Those were the days when I got to go to work with Mom.

Mom worked (and still does work) at the college in Brookings, and I felt very important when I got to stroll through the doors with her in the morning. Even in the summer, the dewy mornings had a chill to them, but I loved that fresh morning air. Mom’s coworkers were always very gracious, and no one seemed to mind when I chatted them up about the latest exciting development in my life, like the recent loss of a tooth or a new pet caterpillar.

The primary reason I loved going to work with Mom was that she gave me unrestricted access to the office supply closet. That’s right: all the highlighters I could ever want. Mom would set me up either in an empty classroom/office or in a corner of her office, and I would take my handful of highlighters and be content for hours.
A few of my early works...

Oh, those highlighters. I’ve worked in several places with office supply closets, but never have I seen a more extensive selection than that of SDSU. They had pink and green and orange and yellow and blue, and if I was really lucky, I’d find a purple one. There were fat highlighters and thin highlighters and even one that was shaped like a triangle and had a highlighter at each corner. This was highlighter heaven.

Armed with my highlighters and a roll of dot matrix paper, I would sit and draw. I primarily drew cats and flowers, but I eventually progressed to more complicated subjects, such as Disney princesses.
And many pictures of our dog Spot.
As I grew older, I was also allowed to use the permanent markers, which was great news for my color palate. Now, I not only had my highlighter pastels, but the saturated Sharpie colors as well. Life was good.

Mom, bless her heart, hung all of these drawings up in her office. One in particular that I remember features a picture of Mom wearing a superhero cape – shortly before, she had saved a fabric rose of mine from the burn pit, and for that, she was my hero. (I later found out that she was the one who put the flower there in the first place, but that was long after the superhero rendering.) 
I even drew her a state fair ribbon.
My other favorite thing to do at Mom’s office was play with the electric typewriter. As a child, I was not only a prolific artist, but an author as well. I sat on Mom’s typewriter and wove tales of mermaids and little girls and their cats. (I had a thing for cats.) I even remember attempting to make my own word finds.

Lunch time with Mom was also very thrilling for me. More often than not, we’d head to the nearby gas station and pick up individual Hot Stuff pizzas to eat in the break room. The break room was nothing out of the ordinary, but I felt like a member of the SDSU elite when I ate there with Mom.

However, all good things must end: I eventually aged out of going to work with Mom. It’s probably just as well – right as I became too old to go to work with Mom, I began my long surly phase. I’m glad Mom’s coworkers didn’t have to witness that unfortunate part of my life – luckily, they think of me as an enthusiastic young girl with a penchant for highlighter artistry. And isn’t that how we all want to be remembered?

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