Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kindergarten: Sioux Falls 1962

I'm trying to remember if I finished kindergarten or not. In my mind, I didn't. We moved and I do recall specifically, when we would sit in a circle and tell each other anything new, that I always said we were moving to Washington State and the teacher got angry with me because I always said it (I thought maybe people had forgotten). I didn't like my teacher and she, it seems, didn't like me. I don't recall her name, but she was a rather stern old woman and she complained about me and there were some issues.
Let's see. I know my parents talked to her because I complained I was hungry and she didn't like me saying I was hungry during class. I remember that my older brothers told me I'd only have to count to, say, twenty or so and the first day she asked us to count to one hundred and she scolded me for not being able to do it. I recall that our desks had our names on them--a thick paper rectangle with our name written large upon it that was taped to a corner of our little wooden desks--and one time in the winter, I grabbed my folder or books and the name "plate" came up with them and as I walked home--with big snow banks along the sidewalks--I discovered my name plate and I tossed it into the snow. Sure, I should have just taken it home and brought it back the next day, but I was a kid. I thought I would be in big trouble from the troublesome teacher and so I ditched the evidence of my transgression. Sure enough, she asked where it was, blamed me and it just further added to the stress of kindergarten. man, I didn't like her. It probably led to--or reinforced--my hating school for many many years.
In kindergarten I liked puzzles, especially animal puzzles. But you had to do your work before you could play with the puzzles. Sometimes that "work" was arts and crafts. I know one day we built these little paper lanterns. I hated it. I hated the cutting and gluing and strategic placing of these bent paper strips to make a "lantern". I was no good at it and she--the dreaded teacher--wouldn't let me get to that elephant puzzle until I finished it right. (Bitch.) Ah, maybe I remember it wrong and it was just in me to dislike school (and dislike authority); then again, maybe it was her? I remember sitting in the circle each day and I'd check out the girls. yes, even at age four or five, there was a sexuality and understanding of girls and boys. I'd look at them and, in my mind, pick out which ones I'd marry or have affection for, based purely on physical features. That seems to be inherent among us--attraction based upon physicality--as many researchers into the subject have stated: physical attraction=desire for mating=reproduction. (Of course, we humans also circumvent that instinct with our intellect and, as we age, a deeper understanding of qualifiers, qualities of intelligence, sanity, understanding, temperament, money: personality behind the mask of physical features. Yet, in many ways, good looks still rule the world.
I know the class was in this old building with stairs. I recall those stairs--brown-gray terrazzo with no-slip sandpaper-like striped where the winter snow would melt in ugly dirty pools. I remember walking by myself to and from school--mainly in the winter, where--as said--the snow was piled up in bunches (huge to me, as I was just a kid). Idid not like leaving home to go there. Did not like the structure of class and the pointless activities of arts and crafts. Learning was okay, but I preferred elephant puzzles. Most of all, I didn't like the teacher.
But we moved and I went on to first grade in a new town, state, region. I still did not like school, resented it, until maybe my last two years of high school. Loved college and grad school. But I still harbor a pain and hatred for kindergarten--be it deserved or not, it's there.

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