When Kids watched After School Specials and Government was Small

I always enjoy yoga these days. Back when I could do it almost anytime I wanted, I didn’t really appreciate it. Now that it is a part of the very small time carved out for myself 3-4 times/week, I tend to bask in each moment of movement, connecting mind and body. Still, I love yoga the most when Ted is teaching. I don’t know what his last name is because he is just listed on the schedule as Ted R, so I call him Ted R.  Ted R. is on the schedule on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I can typically only make his Tuesday class.

Not everyone gets Ted R.’s humor but he makes me laugh every single class, usually at the beginning. He doesn’t want people to take themselves so seriously, to take yoga so seriously. He wants them to be sincere about their practice, of course, but he also wants us to bring an element of play to our practice. And, especially in Ted R.’s class, yoga is like my noon recess from adult responsibilities.

So today, Ted R. entered the room, a little late as usual. I think this really bothers some people. I forgive him, though, because he’s Ted R. and he wears a bandana around his head, just like Axel Rose back in the day. He tells us that we may want to stagger our mats so that we can see him against the far wall, where he will be teaching today, instead of remaining in the neat little lines that we all created with our mates. Many people are already comfortably laying on their backs, reclined in a shavasana (corpse pose). I get up and move my mat, as do only a handful of other people. Ted R. then pipes back in, “Okay, you don’t have to move if you don’t want to. I know some people are resistant to change. This isn’t some after school special on peer pressure.” For some reason, this comment just cracked me up. I laughed so hard for a minute or so but no one else was laughing. Maybe no one else remembers after school specials. I think it was a distinct phenomena of the late 70’s and early 80’s. I am not sure that my teenagers have ever even heard of an “after school special.” Teens don’t come home from school anymore. Instead, they attend an endless stream of extracurricular activities.

I used to love those after school dramas about such relevant topics as anorexic and paint sniffing teens, especially those ones that involved more famous teen sorts of actors like Kristi McNichols–was that her name? or any member of the cast of The Facts of Life.

Anyway, thank you Ted R. I guess we are from the same time era or at least from the same humor zone. Its always good to laugh.

If you want a laugh, I am attaching a picture that someone posted on Facebook of Mrs. Swanson’s 5th grade class–right from the heart of the after school special era. I am the girl in the first row wearing a red sweater and an American Flag pin (what can I say, my parents were both Reagan Republicans). I am also wearing socks with sandals. Hmmm? Anyway, Mrs. Swanson was my most favorite grade school teacher. She taught us useful things like how to properly cut our toenails and to always say “excuse me” when you walk in front of another person. She also told us to brush our teeth with baking soda, before they had toothpaste made from baking soda. Finally, she gave us lots of hugs. I am not sure if teachers are allowed to do that these days.

So, I am not Michele Bachman here, idealizing the good ole’days in Waterloo when gas was (gasp!) only $ .50/gallon. (I might add that a pack of Wrigley’s Gum at the Valley Dairy was only $ .10 cents–I think it’s called inflation, not some subversive form of government causing us to pay more than we should at the tank) and the government was small and so people trusted in God, not government. [Sorry to get political on you folks there at the end, just had to]. Still, those after school specials sure were good.

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2 comments
  1. Sarah said:

    Mrs. Swanson was wonderful, wasn’t she?! And I haven’t thought about after school special’s in a long time…thanks for the memory.

  2. motherimperfect said:

    She was–I just loved her so. Btw, in this photo, you are gazing off into the distance wistfully. Hmmm? You must have already been contemplating your escape from Minnesota at that time. Or you are looking at the stage where you lost your front two teeth. Good times at River Heights. Sort of sad to think it is gone now. Just look at that beautiful red linoleum floor. So mid-century modern. So retro cool now.

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