Since we were barely out of high school when we got married, and I believed the man of the house should be able to support me (oops!)….us……he went to college. Not me! I worked; well, he did, too, doing a wide variety of “odd” jobs all during his 6, or was it 7, years of college, plus several years in the US Navy. But he made it through….always graduating with honors. Proud!
So when the children were teenagers, and David had a good job, I went to college and not just ANY college; The University of Texas at Austin and eventually The University of Houston, Main campus.
About a week into classes that fall at UT, the Professor said she wanted to test us by reading out our first names one by one. We were to all point at that person showing we knew who the name belonged to. Believe me, I got the most points…after all I was “the old lady” in class..old enough to be their mother. I stood out. Well, that designation remained all through my higher education days.
Once at UH a young student came up to me in chemistry class and said, “When I first saw you walk into class, I said to myself….good for her!” Nice! I later dropped that very difficult class. What is an artist doing in a chemistry class anyway? I had other gifts they probably didn’t have! Also, I had once won our Country Club’s Tennis Tournament (Doubles, B-Flight) and had a trophy to prove it. So there. Who needs chemistry.
I clearly remember the first day I walked into the classroom in art school…a few years later. Silence…utter silence! I think all those 18-20 year old wanna-be artists felt betrayed. “There goes our fun”, I could almost hear them say. Poor little things! In this art school the students stay in the class they start in, for the entire time….every day…the same students. We got to know each other very well.
Their language and gossiping over their drawing boards tested my patience a great deal. One day I went to the instructor’s office and told him how challenging it was to keep quiet and not go into “Mother mode”. But I knew if I killed or injured one of them, it would not look good on my resume. So I persevered.
One time a fellow student came up to my drawing board to ask what I was working on so hard. I answered him truthfully, “The assignment for today!” He said, “What assignment?” I said “The one listed on the large, orange paper placed on each of our drawing boards this morning and every morning.” He shrugged and said, “Oh, I never read those papers!” He said I was an over-achiever! Giggle here!
I’m happy to say that after about 6 months together, their language and attitudes changed. Some say it was because of “the old lady” in class. I really began to like them and care about them. I had been a professional illustrator for a long time before coming to art school, and had much of my artwork published, so I knew I had an advantage over them. However, I soon learned I had a lot to learn about art and the curriculum wasn’t easy…not a bit. I worked very hard. I was surrounded by young people with oodles of talent and hope…but very little self-discipline. So I began to help them WHEN THEY ASKED! Soon there was a line of students formed behind my back at my drawing board, waiting for my critique of their work before they turned it in. Our instructors were tough and the critiques were often brutal.
When graduation came near, I told my husband I would really miss all those kids. I didn’t. I got so busy with my art I had very little time to look back and remember. But it was all worth it. And I loved being “the old lady” in class.