I have come to learn that mothers are usually right...
Growing up, my mother and illustrator, Lynn Tooman-Cser, called me "The Pied Piper of Children." She knew that I would become a teacher, but I was probably plugging my ears (see
I thought teaching lacked pizazz. Instead, I was jetting off to college at The New School in NYC to become a writer? Photographer? Fashion journalist? Filmmaker?
Clad in black with a semi-wicked power walk, I was sure that I fit the part of a hip New Yorker. Yet, every time I smiled, my cover was blown.
"You're too nice,"people would say in their clipped, East Coast accents. "Definitely not from New York."
When I told them (under my breath) that I was from Ohio, the next question would be,
Did you live on a farm?
It probably didn't help that instead of gallery and club hopping, I could be found on the Upper East Side playgrounds. During college, I nannied for a wonderful French family who lived in Jackie Onassis's apartment building on 5th Avenue. With 17 rooms overlooking Central Park, a visiting friend lamented, "Well, it only goes downhill from here."
The three children delighted in my subway riding stories, and I have fond memories of their youngest, Stephanie, artfully avoiding her vitamins by hiding them in various keyholes. I remember telling her wildly imaginative bedtime stories, of what many years later would eventually become The Birthday Triplets.
I interned for W fashion magazine, reviewed potential scripts for the producer of Shrek, and mentored with an author who taught creative writing in the Harlem schools. In the end, writing won, and I graduated with a degree in Writing and Literature. Now here's where the story takes an unexpected turn. I came back to Ohio to become...a Montessori teacher!
I think a part of me knew it all along.
I started as a Children's House Directress (3-6 year-olds) and then moved up to the upper elementary level (9-12 year-olds). I loved it all! But most importantly, it was gratifying to know that my work had meaning that was far-reaching. Instilling values such as kindness, compassion, gratitude, and empathy became front and center. Those same attributes were woven into the personalites & stories of The Birthday Triplets-Candi, Cookie, & Coco.
The Birthday Triplets' second book in the series is in the works and the girls are finding new friends on Facebook (19,000 fans). We're also preparing to launch an exciting project in April. Stay tuned!
As for me, when not spending time with the triplets, one of my passions is teaching creative writing. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a love of writing ignite in kids. They need it now more than ever. With the dearth of creative outlets in schools and the lure of the glowing phone screens, it is essential that kids find quiet within themselves and their imaginations.
It's a gift.
P.S. For more behind the scenes, visit our blog here!