Homework… not for me!
infinite fantasies from childhood
It started early, my Daydreaming. The artwork of NC Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish, both early 20th Century illustrators of the Classics by Robert Louis Stevenson and “Poems of Childhood” by Eugene Field put me in another world, a world that even at my ripe old age today; I haven’t as yet left behind. I can still look at one of their paintings and go there.
My earliest art training took the form of forging signatures and school grades on my report cards. This began sometime during the fifth and sixth grades during my early education out in the Township. I didn’t like doing homework and so I didn’t. And, I got away with it most of the time.
The reason I got away with it; my parents weren’t engaged and they trusted me. I don’t recall ever being asked if I had finished my homework and, if I was asked, I’m sure I probably said I finished it at school. I lived in my fantasy world and they lived in theirs. It happens. To them I was the perfect child and to me, I was never meant to be an academic.
I didn’t have a moral authority looking over my shoulder; a religious dogmatist that would influence my waywardness back to the straight and narrow, to that of being a proper and good student. Religion in our house was a battle of wits; my dad the good catholic and my mother (the not so good protestant) that never attended church herself. She did though enjoy the social life that the good catholic provided her. Friday and Saturday nights down at the corner bar dancing away the night or going to the movie theater now and again. As a child, raised in a strict religious environment, she was never allowed to socialize outside of the church. No movies and for sure… no dancing. All were considered habits of the devil. She left home when she was sixteen for the big city and never looked back.
As for me and my protestant education, my mother learned there were neighbors that attended the very denomination that she was raised in and then abandoned. Why would she send me with them to attend this Church? Had she learned that I wasn’t doing homework and forging her signature on my report cards… probably not? She meant well, I’m sure, but I hated the experience then, and it certainly had a negative effect concerning how I feel today about the intent of the world’s many religions… too many. I don’t question anyone’s faith, I consider it personal. What I do question is ones blind faith to them.
I consider myself spiritual in a day-dreamy sort of way. The daydream never goes away for anyone with a creative bent, it is the stimulus. My many nights aloft when crossing the north Atlantic, with me in my perch, the captains seat as witness to the infinity surrounding the stars that go on forever in the night sky. How can you not think there is something greater out there? This is where my faith lies and I pray toward the stars and hope something or someone is listening.
When I was in the sixth grade my mother became ill and took to her bed for extended periods; she was in her mid-thirties. People, from the church she didn’t attend, would come and pray over their sister Hart. It was a very somber event each time they came. Even then I still wasn’t doing my homework. One day Mr. Fisher, my infamous sixth grade teacher, called me out into the hallway (which he liked to do with me on a regular basis, it was he that accused me of having my father build my science project, a model airplane with fully functioning flight controls). He asked me why I hadn’t done my homework. I told him the truth; I had to do the ironing because my mother was sick in bed. Well, I learned, telling the truth is not always the right thing to do. I hadn’t thought it far enough ahead. Mr. Fisher said he was going to call my mother to verify my story. It was then I began to cry and told him that I had lied. It wasn’t true that I had lied of course, because the truth was, I didn’t want him to call my mother and I wouldn’t have done my homework anyhow, ironing or not. And, who wants their mother finding out they don’t do homework.
I wonder if Robert Louis Stevenson, Eugene Field, NC Wyeth or Maxfield Parrish, all creators of my infinite fantasies did their homework. Or, did they ever forge their mother’s signature on their report cards. Who would know… they were really good artists?