Mary Morony, Author of Apron Strings, Done Growed Up and If It Ain't One Thing

Teaching A Skill

Until I stood in front of twenty girls jonesing to learn to knit; three writhing, squalling babies; and three three-year-olds with more hands than the Hindu Goddess Kali; everything in my life seemed easy by comparison. I had marriages that failed, even a husband or two died, and I experienced more than my fair share of issues raising children; but in comparison with teaching these women a skill in this first knitting class, all of that seemed a breeze.

Holy moly, the cacophony of baby shrieks coupled with the incessant demand of, “Aunt!” threatened to push my frail mind, already perched on the edge of a precipice, into the abyss. Add to the aforesaid chaos children teetering about carrying needles point up – the fear the sight of children running with sharp objects comes to me as a product of the fifties. Instructions emblazoned on my psyche to carry them point down.

The day before Moreen gathered the girls together, she summoning me to discuss the new class I was to teach. Before my eyes, these worldly mothers turned into middle school students. Some acted out while others waited attention fixed for Aunty to speak. It was clear to me, this diminutive firebrand next to me knew how to teach. The moment she opened her mouth, she held the classes’ rapt attention.

As I sat next to Aunt Moreen and listened to her instruct the girls, my high hopes for the burgeoning knitting class began to sag. “Attendance,” she stated, “was mandatory. Aunt Mary will keep attendance.” Oh dear, I thought, me the record keeper. Never being noted for my organizational skills, the key for the knitting room recently bestowed upon me defied my ability to locate. As far as keeping keys, my husband and I rekey houses after we sell them since whereabouts of the keys eluded us. As useful as stretching can be, I verged on overstretching. Perched in front of the girls mulling my newest set of responsibilities, I perceived the sound of an extraordinary pronouncement emanating from beside me, “…and I expect all of you to knit a sweater by the end of the class.”

Moreen with impeccable timing turned toward me and said, “Do you want to add anything?”

At this point in the proceedings, with my mind reduced to the consistency of cold matoke, I managed to stammer. “Uh, I don’t think it will be possible …uh… for me to teach anyone how to knit uh… sweater in a …uh … uh… mon… month.” Blithering, while good at it, is not my favorite pastime – especially in front of an audience. In an attempt to maintain some dignity, I pointed out the dangers associated with babies and young children playing with knitting needles and plastic project bags. Since Moreen had assigned punishments for certain transgressions, I applied a few of my own toothless ones to her list.

Looking out of my bedroom door twenty minutes before the appointed time for class to start, I saw girls were lined up at the door. True to form, the location of the key remained a mystery. Rather than allow myself to freak out about the eagerness of my new students, (did I know how to teach people to knit?) I looked for the key. Skidding up to the appointed classroom, (thankfully with the key) my hands shook as I attempted to unlock the door.

The enthusiasm heady, the swarm of infants and small children dreadful, but most of all, the task ahead daunted me. How, in Gods’ name, can I make order out this mayhem? I wondered. The only thing to do was to start and so I did. Three weeks later I realize I was wrong all along. If I had had the courage of Moreen’s convictions, I’m pretty sure several sweaters would be well on their way to completion.

 

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