I had just turned 5 a few weeks before heading off to Kindergarten in 1971.   The youngest of three girls, I was a tomboy of sorts, a bit of a messy.  Adorning my head was hair that usually looked not perfectly coiffed, but as though I had rolled out of bed, been chased by my mother to get it combed and won the race:)  I wore mostly hand-me-down clothes from my two older sisters who beat me in age by about 18 months in each stair step up.  Kindergarten was great!  There was a big sand box table built so it stood off the floor at about waist level, that is to anyone 6 and under.  One corner housed a small library and two squishy chairs that were low to the ground -  you could sink almost to China in them.  In the back of the room was the play kitchen.  It had all the great amenities of a kitchen complete with cupboards, dishes, a stove, refrigerator and a sink.   I loved the library and the kitchen.  It still holds true all these years later; I love books & words and enjoy cooking.  We took naps in kindergarten in 1971 on a trifold mat that was a required purchase for each kindergartner.  Mine was blue.  It reminded you of those gymnastic tumbling mats except designed for the smallness of a 5 or 6 year old body.  We actually had to lay still on the mat with our eyes closed for 15 minutes or so every day.  It was a killer for me!!  Then there was snack time.  The kids took turns bringing in snacks for the whole class, but milk was provided by the school for a nominal fee of five cents.  You had your choice of whole milk (people didn't have skim milk in 1971!), strawberry or chocolate.  In the farthest back corner of the room was a single occupancy bathroom with a big heavy door. I felt like Alice In Wonderland whenever I went through that big, heavy door.  Windows lined the whole west side of the classroom which distracted my tomboyishness terribly in the fall and spring of the year.  James was in my class.  He was sort of portly with ill fitting sort of too tight clothes which only accentuated his touch of doughiness.  How we know what we know as kids, I'm not sure.  What I knew about James was that he was being raised by his grandparents on a junkie little farm just north of town.  I don't know why his grandparents were raising he and his sister, so I made up some horrific story in my 5 year old head.  He lacked many things; manners, proper fitting clothes, restraint from eating ALL the snacks ALL the time, smarts and just all around kindergarten maturity - the likes of which I had in abundance:)  I'm not sure how much direction or help he got at home.  Even at 5 years old I could tell no one helped him or maybe even loved him like my parents loved me.  He followed me through most of the grades in elementary school.  In kindergarten he contrabanded a full-size candy bar and tried stuffing most of it in his mouth as the teacher caught him hunkered down in the china chair in the library.  In grades K-2nd, James had some bathroom issues which no doubt stemmed from his family situation.  There was numerous times when he would have an accident at school.  The kindergarten teacher typically kept a couple of pair of underwear and sweat pants on hand for such an occasion.  In 2nd grade James was in my class yet again.  I wondered as I saw him sitting at his desk the first day of school if he had mastered the bathroom thing yet.  No worries.  He hadn't.  Just a few days later James not only pooped his pants but then split them completely up the back.  With no spare clothes, and a call to his grandparents to come and get him, our second grade teacher gave James her long coat to wear.  I loved her even more than I already did for letting a poopy kid wear her coat.  He was so embarrassed he would not come out of the closet but stood with Mrs. Cripes' long beautiful coat on.  The smell of poop permeated the room.  We dubbed him James "lump lump" ______________ (last name withheld to give him some measure of dignity).  I saw him several years ago after having been gone from my hometown for 25 years.  I was pumping gas and looked up to see someone looking at me.  There he was  - James "lump lump" ___________________.  Neither of us said a word but just nodded our heads and smiled.  I had changed in 25 years and had to hope he had too:) 

1 comment:

  1. That story brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. All Grace can do is giggle!!!!!!