As I send my second son off to kindergarten, I realize it was this time 30 years ago that I started kindergarten. Some may be surprised at how much I remember about kindergarten.
I was in the classroom closest to the playground, before they rebuilt that end of campus. My teacher was Miss Cathy, though she seemed to be gone a lot. I remember how big her eyes got when she was angry. Like when she asked us if we understood the Secret Santa we were doing for Christmas, and I said, “Yes, Miss Cathy. I picked Cindy.” Her eyes got big and she said, “Well hallelujah! Why don’t you just tell everyone?!” What? Cindy was gone, doing her advanced reading with the first graders. We had a Christmas tree in our room, and there was a bear on a sleigh ornament for each of us hanging on it. I still have mine. Frankie got me a Santa purse.
We had pencil boxes with our supplies in them. I had regular big crayons, and was jealous of others who had ones that were flat on one side. I desperately tried rubbing mine to flatten on one side, to no avail.
I remember a girl telling me my freckles were ugly.
I remember I was a brat.
I remember the warm plate we’d put our coloring paper on and color as the crayon melted. I remember the smell of melted crayon and the slight burns on my arms.
I remember our behavior calendars we’d put scratch and sniff stickers on at the end of each day. I remember the awful smell of the skunk one.
I remember instead of naps, the teacher turned off the lights and had us put our heads down on our folded blankets after lunch. The teacher said we couldn’t talk without raising our hands, so my best friend, Molly, raised her hand then said, “Amy, we both have these thingies,” grabbing at the yarn ties on her blanket, which I also had on my lavender quilt.
I remember Kristin, Tommy, Monica, Noel, Keith, Cindy, Frankie. I had a special heart for Keith, probably because he spent part of kindergarten in the hospital with pneumonia.
I remember our spring program, when we sang On the Good Ship Lollipop (with our hand-made lollipops), The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow, In Your Easter Bonnet (in our crafted bonnets), and Fame.
Shockingly, there is something I don’t remember about kindergarten at all. It wouldn’t be until first grade that he captured my full attention. And he’s kept me in rapture ever since.