Teacher: Mrs. Reid
As you might suspect, my memories of Kindergarten are few and far between. Frankly, it might turn out that I don’t have many memories for any of my years of school, but I plead agedness, particularly on this year. After all, it has been almost 29 years since I started Kindergarten, and I have trouble remembering things I did last week.
There are a few things that stand out, though, even after all this time.
First of all, I’ll never forget my Kindergarten teacher as long as my brain works. One doesn’t like to use the word “unique” indiscriminately, but I believe it applies. Before I even got to her class I had heard about her. My brother was two grades ahead of me and he had told me stories about a classmate that had to wear a paper bird’s beak for a day because he made noises and another who had to wear a tail all day for being a tattletale. Other tales of kids being taped to their seats only furthered the trepidation I felt. True to the stories, when she was introducing herself to us, she talked about stringing kids up by their toes and all manner of other tortures. Let me tell you, the fear was struck, hard and fast, in the hearts of every Kindergartener in the room.
Not enough, apparently, as I remember having to sit at the “bad table,” and I remember not being the only person at the table. Of course, “bad” in kindergarten meant “too talkative,” but bad is bad, so there I sat. I also remember spending one lunch period out in the hallway, huddled next to a radiator because I “couldn’t behave in the classroom.”
I don’t remember if I could read before I went to school, so I don’t remember if learning the letters was review for me or new information. I do know that I used to copy my last name off my lunch so I could get it right. Hey, for a kid trying to learn how to spell “cat” and “jump,” a last name of “Zwolanek” can be pretty tricky. I’m not even sure I knew how to pronounce it correctly at this point of my life.
There was a system of gold stars and black blots that kept record of our behavior throughout the year. Gold stars had the extra benefit of earning the recipient a piece of candy. Black blots … well, the only benefit there was shame.
Did everyone have naptime in Kindergarten? What a fantastic idea. It’s terrible that we feel people grow out of naptime, because I often feel like a nap in the middle of the workday would not only help productivity but might also make people friendlier to each other during the other parts of the day – “Bob, I’m not sure what I think of this business plan, but let me nap on it and I’ll get back to you this afternoon.” Our goal during naptime was to be the quietest and lay the most still in an effort to be dubbed “Nap Fairy” and be given the power to wake everyone else up at the end of naptime in the order determined best by the Nap Fairy. Mrs. Reid was still teaching Kindergarten in the same school as of last year and I’m guessing this position still exists, but I’d bet it has a different name now.
The most traumatic memory I have from Kindergarten is from the end-of-the-year party we had at a local park. One of the games we played was that one where you tie a balloon to your ankle and try to protect yours while you’re trying to step on and break everyone else’s. Things were going along swimmingly until such time as Scott I. smacked his head into my mouth while trying to break my balloon. Blood, blood, more blood, and a loose tooth is what I remember. Miss Westphall (a teacher whose name will come up again later but at this time was teaching 4th grade, I think) was the closest teacher with the longest fingernails and she tried pulling the tooth the rest of the way out, but all she pulled out of me were more tears.
The nature of Christian schools, especially ones so near a Christian college, dictates that you’ll have the same core of classmates for most of your years of school. The teachers at the college send their kids through the school and the older students at the college send their kids through for as long as they’re in college. As a result, there were at least five of us that I can remember right off the bat that were classmates all the way from Kindergarten through our Senior year of high school, and even a little into college. Though Scott I. wasn’t one of them and didn’t actually stay with our class past that year, I ran into him years later when he came back for college and confronted him with the years of bitterness I had built up over the incident. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events, but I think I was finally able to get past it.
My Kindergarten year took place in the basement of the church that had started the school. It was to end up being the last year that the whole school was housed there, as they were putting up a new building which would be ready by the time I started first grade.