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In what my children would probably call a fairly typical, schizophrenic mode for me, I find myself both demanding that the kids “grow up”, while at the same time, resolving this year that I need to be more childlike.


Today I witnessed a scene that made me stop multitasking between laptop and smartphone, sit back, and enjoy life.  I spent a full 10 minutes watching, smiling, and thinking how we so quickly lose childlike wonder and pleasure.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was sitting at a Starbucks, preparing my courses for next week.  What worked last semester?  What didn’t?  Can I really fit all that content in?  What if the students fall asleep?  At first, when I looked up and out the window, I thought “That guy must be drunk!”  He looked like he was having trouble walking.  At 9 am.  You never know…  Then, as he paced back and forth, I thought “Maybe he is really angry at someone inside that house, and he is just blowing off some steam.”  Healthier than an altercation, especially if he was drunk.  I have a great imagination.  I was already picturing the fight between the young couple.

I almost went back to syllabi hell preparation, but caught myself.  The pacing continued only a few seconds longer, and then this young man backed up, got a bit of a running start, and purposely slid across a patch of ice.  His first runs at the ice were tentative, but then our skater began working on form, holding his finish, attempting a spin at the end.

This was no drunk.  This was no belligerent and angry lover.

This was an adult experiencing joy in the here and now.  He wasn’t taking selfies as he slid, or sending SnapChats to others.  He was living, fully present.  No complaining about the weather, but instead, using what the weather has given us.

What gave me pleasure as a child?  Really physical outdoor play, like that game of Statues where you grab your sibling’s arm and leg, get the kid airborne, and then release – where he lands, he becomes a statue.  Or climbing the berry trees and having a juicy snack, warmed by the sun.  Our feet were always berry purple at that point in the summer!  Red Rover – what a great game!  Just try to break through our tightly grasped hands!  Torturing younger brothers was always pretty high on the list, too.  Don’t worry – they always found ways to get their retribution, a la extra cake for dessert, or time-out for us older kids.  Baloney sandwiches with yellow mustard!  Yum!  (Clear “yuk” now, however!)

New resolution for 2014 – rediscover here and now, the simple pleasures that bring a smile to the face.  Maybe, too, a pirouette across some ice.

About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!


  1. I LOVED THIS!!! Especially needed the reminder this week.

    • Claire Ziamandanis

      The kicker was when he started trying to spin at the end, and the embellishing arm in the air! All this, while two lanes of traffic in both directions was going by! Completely unselfconscious!

  2. Baloney with yellow mustard on white bread, I grew up on that combo! Still yum, but, alas, only the yellow mustard remains in my pantry. Great post, Claire, yes, don’t we all need to enjoy life at our feet in the real world a bit more. Our students, despite their ever present smartphones, can teach us a lot about regressing to the here and now. Hopefully, we aren’t so locked into pedagogy (ah, the word that is a symbol of academic nonsense!) that we can’t enjoy the moment with our students in our classes, too.

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