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Carla Klein grew up in Michigan, the oldest of five children. Her mom was single, head-of-household by the time Carla was a teen-ager.
They didnt have the resources that we have now, she said. My mom depended on me.
Helping to care for her younger siblings, she still had a good childhood.
I was out playing cowboys and Indians, cops and robbersanything with guns and shooting arrows. I was climbing trees there were a lot of trees. I was hyperactive and stubborn; Im a very stubborn person, I guess.
We lunched at The Kings Table. Owners Kevin and Robin Seuring recently opened a Stewarts Square store, but we chose the original, Charles Street, location. My delicious veggie wrap was served with balsamic and key lime dressing. Carla enjoyed chicken salad on wheat bread.
Carla continued with stubbornness stories.
I remember my first day of kindergartenthese big yellow buses going by, and they didnt stop for me. It seemed like a lot of buses, but I was 5. It could have been the same bus going back and forth. My mom called, and they sent a special bus for me.
At the end of the day, Carla refused to board the regular bus.
They forgot me in the morning. I told them, youll forget me now.
Thats pretty assertive for 5, I observed.
My mother didnt appreciate that. I was supposed to be ladylike. I was never ladylike.
What happened the next day?
I got on the bus. But until I knew that they knew where I was from, I wasnt getting on the bus.
Its a story about your strength.
Yes, but a lot of people dont look at it that way. A lot of times, hyperactive kids go against the rules to see whats going to happen, because theyre not really sure.
We talked about her getting on A.D.H.D. medication in her 40s.
Youre not really calm, I said.
Oh, this is nothing, she said. Medication allows me to solve problems; Im a better driver now; people tell me Im organized now. There are so many things I didnt realize I was doing because I was A.D.H.D. Mine is severe.
Carla married her high school sweetheart. Theyre both very involved with their children. But her parenting skills also go to work in Rockford helping other parents get it right. Shes the regional coordinator for Childrens Home & Aid Society of Illinois Parents Care and Share of Illinois program. She trains and helps people start parent groups.
I never had career aspirations. I have so many things that interest me. I worked in mental health and really liked that. But I dont like to do the same thing day after day. I really like talking to people, interacting helping them reframe how they think about things.
And, now you help parents with problems?
They dont have to have problems to start a group. It could just be that youre lonely and need somebody to talk to knowing if something goes really well, you can call and tell them this, and they will celebrate with you.
Is this fulfilling?
Yes, I like sellingand you kind of sell this process, but it doesnt cost money. But I dont ever love my job. You love people. You love your family. I like my job. The most exciting thing Ive ever done is to have kids. Its the wildest roller coaster Ive ever been on.
So its still about parenting.
I want kids to grow up in happy, healthy homes. The best way to grow up in happy, healthy homes is to have good parents. It drives me crazy that we have to have classes that tell people how to be good parents. I dont understand people who hurt kids.
We couldnt resist two of Kevins homemade desserts.
Do you like the fruit tart or the bread pudding better? I asked.
See, I cant really say I like one better than the other, because theyre both distinctly different, and theyre both really good.
You dont like being pinned down.
No. I like heavy metal music. I admit that. I like Star Wars movies romantic comedies, John Wayne movies. I dont like horror movies. I like to sing. I think singing is important.
What legacy do you want to leave with your children?
I would tell them to be honest.
She thinks for a moment.
Remember Lynrd Skynrds song, Simple Man, about a mother talking to her son: Take your time dont live too fast find (somebody you) love…be something you love and dont forget, son, there is someone up above.
Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe. She has covered food, drama, entertainment, health, and business for publications in California and Illinois for the past 25 years.
From the May 11-17, 2005, issue