“Don’t be cross, dear. Stop a minute and let me tell you what I mean. I have been thinking about it and I know you will appreciate what I have to say, and I know you can do it. Now listen.” Whereupon the mother went on to explain quite graphically a process of pretense—good, wholesome pretense.
To any one who has no imagination this would not or could not appeal.
To the young woman of whom I write it not only appealed heartily, but she tried it and made it work. It was simply that she should play that she had commenced her vacation and was going to school to amuse herself.
As, for instance, she would say to herself, and believe it: “Isn’t it good that I can have a vacation and a rest. What shall I do to get all I can out of it?
“I think I will go and see what they are doing in the grammar school. Maybe when I get there it will amuse me to teach some of the children. It is always interesting to see how children are going to take what you say to them and to see the different ways in which they recite their lessons.”
By the time she got to school she was very much cheered. Looking up she said to herself: “This must be the building.”
She had been in it every school day for five years past, but through the process of her little game it looked quite new and strange now.
She went in the door and when the children said “good morning,” and some of them seemed glad to see her, she said to herself: “Why, they seem to know me; I wonder how that happens?” Occasionally she was so much amused at her own consistency in keeping up the game that she nearly laughed outright. She heard each class recite as if she were teaching for the first time. She looked upon each separate child as if she had never seen him before and he was interesting to her as a novel study.
She found the schoolroom more cheerful and was surprised into perceiving a pleasant sort of silent communication that started up between her pupils and herself.
When school was over she put on her hat and coat to go home, with the sense of having done something restful; and when she appeared to her mother, it was with a smiling, cheerful face, which made her mother laugh outright; and then they both laughed and went out for a walk in the fresh air, before coming in to go to bed, and be ready to begin again the next day.
In the morning the mother felt a little anxious and asked timidly: “Do you believe you can make it work again today, just as well as yesterday?”
“Yes, indeed and better,” said the daughter. “It is too much fun not to go on with it.”
After breakfast the mother with a little roguish twinkle, said: “Well, what do you think you will do to amuse yourself to-day, Alice?”
“Oh! I think—” and then they both laughed and Alice started off on her second day’s “vacation.”
By the end of a week she was out of that tired rut and having a very good time. New ideas had come to her about the school and the children; in fact, from being dead and heavy in her work, she had become alive.