I’ve worked remotely for a long time, but some of my extended team are new to it. We did a little exercise, based on our water cooler ideas, to lighten things up and boost morale in this stressful time.
I went around to the members of my team and asked each person to tell me one thing from their childhood that we didn’t know.
To break the ice, I started.
What goes up…
“When I was a kid, I loved to climb. I climbed everything, rocks, jetties, stone walls, and a lot of trees. I had a knack for it. My mom would turn around for a second and I’d be halfway up a tree. And I was fast, too. I scaled most trees in a matter of minutes, climbing to the very top where the branches got thinner and swayed back and forth under the weight of a skinny kid. I loved it — until I didn’t. At some point, fear would hit me and I’d be paralyzed, clutching the bark for dear life.”
“That’s when I’d call Mom and she’d have to climb up and get me. I did this a lot. After a while, if we went to a park or trail, my mom would take one look at the tree I was staring at and say, “Don’t even think about it.”
Move along. Nothing to see here.
Sarah, our super-organized operations manager, surprised us by telling us she’s already moved eleven times in her short life! Can you imagine the packing? Ugh. It’s hard to adjust to new schools, new neighborhoods, and new routines once, but eleven times!? That probably explains why she’s so adaptable and makes friends so easily.
The “Hole” story.
Bobbie told us about the time she and the other kids in her neighborhood decided to dig a hole in the middle of a sand pile left in her yard after a construction project. The “hole” became a major neighborhood undertaking. Kids from all over the area joined in. The project gained momentum as the day progressed, with more kids joining in the now huge excavation project. They even had the ladder part of a backyard slide in the hole so kids could climb down and take pails full of dirt out using a makeshift pulley system. Bobbie’s mom had no idea this was happening until she looked out her kitchen window and saw six muddy kids (They struck water!) clamber up out of the ground. Mom stopped the dig and instructed the team to fill in “the hole” and go home for dinner.
Nat said he asked his big sister why he, and no one else in the family, had red hair. She told him when he was born, the hospital caught fire and his lovely locks were singed. Apparently, Nat thought this was true for years, wondering how his parents could leave him in a burning building. Thanks for the confidence, Sis!
I must be a communist.
When Christine was in elementary school, she came up with what she thought was a novel concept. Everything, a car, a pencil, or a jet plane should cost a dollar. And everyone should be issued the same amount of money to buy all the curtain rods, algebra books, and pumpkins they want. She was so taken with this idea she wanted to tell her mom. Christine was sure it was a U.N.-worthy plan and that her mom would think she stole it from some deep thinker, so she told Mom her teacher came up with this utopian society. Mom said, “Your teacher’s a commie!” Knowing it was she and not Miss Palfrey who thought up this master 5-year plan, Christine worried that she was a commie. She didn’t know what that meant, of course, but she kept the plan’s ownership to herself.
It was fun hearing about my team and laughing about childhood stories. When things are tough, sometimes connections and laughter can help get us through.
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