I get a lot of odd requests. This was the first of its kind.
In September, I’m to speak in several places in Indiana, including an elementary school in a small town called Hope. Usually, I speak to grown-ups, not children. Grown-ups are less demanding. If you bore them, they may heckle you or start to snore. But they’re not likely to start pinching each other.
Still, I’ve had vast experience with children. Mostly good. On the whole, while my own three often tried to convince me otherwise, I like children a lot.
Imagine my surprise to get a request for “10 fun/interesting facts” (about me) to be shared with the children of Hope Elementary prior to my visit.
Ten? Really? OK, I’ll try:
1. I grew up running barefoot in the mountains of North Carolina, squishing snails with my toes, catching lightning bugs in jars and jumping over snakes. My teachers said I was a writer. They also said I was chatty and lazy. I liked writer best.
2. I raised my children on the coast of Northern California, wading in tide pools, turning blue from the cold and watching whales spout offshore.
3. I now live in the desert outside Las Vegas, floating in the pool late at night, listening to coyotes howl at the moon.
4. I am married to a man who is an editor by profession and a bass player/rock star by heart. I have a brother who was born totally blind and insufferably stubborn, and a sister who once tried to shoot me with a real gun just because I poured a Pepsi down her pants.
5. I have three children: two teachers and an actor. My daughter teaches reading. My youngest teaches third grade at the school where he went to third grade. And my oldest is not a real doctor, but he played one on TV. He’s also not a policeman or a vampire or a bad guy of any kind, but he has played all those things, too.
6. I have four grandchildren. Randy is 4. Henry and Charlotte are nearly 3. Wiley is going on 2. They call me Nana. I wish you could see them. When they visit, I let them do as they please. We have another grandbaby on the way. She’ll have curls like her brothers and her cousins, but she will look just like me.
7. I rode a camel once in Africa; had my picture made in Mexico with a live chimpanzee; and once, in Yosemite, I nearly got run over by a big black bear.
8. When my kids were growing up, their favorite meal was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. My favorite meal is at my favorite restaurant (Gaetano’s in Henderson, Nev.)
9. I like to watch sunsets, birds, baseball, basketball and people doing what they do best. I like singing hymns in church, duets with my husband and Motown when I’m cleaning house. I like the sounds of rain and wind and waves, foghorns, sea lions and rolling thunder, and the laughter of my loved ones when they’re laughing at me.
10. I’m not good at much, but I am a decent free throw shooter (or was when I had a hoop to practice on), and given a chance, I would try my best to beat you in a game of one on one.
Sometimes, when I stand before a crowd to speak, I feel like a little girl playing “dress up” and any minute, someone is going to figure out that I really don’t belong there. That feeling always passes (at least, I forget about it) as soon as I see someone smiling up at me.
Most of all, I love stories — reading and writing them, watching them in movies, telling them in any form, any way I can — and getting people to open up and tell me their stories, too.
Wait. Is that 10? Did I mention I’m not great at math?
OK, here is one final fun/interesting thing about me: Soon, Lord willing, I will get to meet the children of Hope. If I’m lucky, they might like me. I know I’ll like them. Maybe they will even think I belong there.
And honestly? What could be more fun/interesting than that?
P.S. What are 10 fun/interesting facts about you?
Sharon Randall is a columnist for McClatchy-Tribune News Service (www.sharonrandall.com). Ruth Ann Dailey is off today.