Life's lessonsby Terry McLaughlin
I was blessed with parents who placed a high value on education. They sacrificed for private-school tuition, and donated hundreds of hours of volunteer service, and spent an incredible amount of time transporting us to the best possible schools.
Occasionally, they'd supplement our school days with additional programs--music and dance classes, foreign language tutorials, symphony tickets, college extension courses, travel opportunities. One of my favorite family traditions was the annual Christmas-break visit to a museum.
Two sets of extracurricular lessons I'm especially grateful for are those my mother arranged for me the year I was in the seventh grade. She felt that some practice with public speaking would help me conquer my shyness. And since she'd always wished she could sew, she decided I should learn that skill.
I wasn't interested in sewing, and I really didn't want to stand in front of strangers and make speeches. I whined and complained and made a preteen fuss over both after-school activities. But my mother was stubborn--and she was right, as mothers so often are. By the end of the year, I'd discovered I had a talent for speaking, and I'd begun to compete in city-wide forensics tournaments. I'd also begun a lifelong love affair with needle and thread.
Since that time, I've spent thousands of happy hours creating costumes, gowns, quilts, curtains, and upholstery. I designed and made my own wedding dress and veil, and one for my sister, too. I find fabric stores every bit as tempting as bookstores.
There's a box in the attic filled with medals and trophies I won in speech contests, and some of my happiest teaching memories are the afternoons I spent with my high school Speech & Drama students. After so much practice, I've never been uncomfortable speaking to a crowd of any size.
So thanks, Mom, for the lessons. They gave me far more than knowledge and skill--they brought me contentment and confidence.
What lessons are you grateful for?