Tuesday, October 7, 2008

He's Sure To Love It,Too!..(or,"What I learned the hard way.")

(Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, read it as the song "Stay For Awhile," by Amy Grant, plays. Go down to the playlist, click on it, then come back to resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

One thing about Ethan is that he is the 3rd born out of 4 children, just like me. If he is anything like me in more than just birth order, and anything like his personality indicates, the kid is going to love Kindergarten.
I remember being so excited about going to Kindergarten! My entire life up until then, I had had two older brothers who went to school, and I was so excited for my turn! I remember setting my first day of school outfit out the night before. It was a green corduroy jumper with strawberry pockets...Strawberry Pockets, people! A symbolic nod to Strawberry Shortcake, who was my homegirl. I remember that first day, standing in front of the Kindergarten room and watching as another child clung crying to her mother's legs. I thought something like "What's wrong with THAT kid? She's such baby!" I later learned that her name was Lindsay, and that, in fact, she WAS a baby! I found this out because as the year progressed, I carpooled with her and another boy named David. (More about David later) Lindsay was just about always in a bad mood in the morning, never wanting to go to school, always threatening to open the car door, and her tears were always at her beck and call.
The thing about David was that he was the boy that all the kindergarten girls were crushing on that year.*** And he was in MY carpool...and I'm sure I announced that to everyone within my hearing range, therefore elevating my popularity 7,000 %. One morning, when it was Lindsay's mom's turn to drive, I leaned over to Lindsay and said "Lindsay, David and I are both wearing brown shoes today, AND we both have brown hair." to which a decidedly NOT brown haired Lindsay responded by weeping and sobbing loudly the entire rest of the ride to school. Her mother had a concerned look on her face as she asked "What's wrong, Lindsay? What's wrong? Are you hurt?" over and over. I thought, "Oh, please, oh, please, just cry, Lindsay, just cry, and don't answer!" Fortunately, she cooperated with my silent plea, her baby-ness being to my advantage that particular morning, and her mom never found out the source of her daughter's anguish.
The irony here is that both Lindsay AND David teased me one morning for being excited about having watched the Charlie Brown Special the night before, and actually having enjoyed it. What did they say to me, you ask? "Charlie Brown is a baby show, for babies!" The nerve!
One of the things I loved best about Kindergarten was Candice. Candice was so awesome for the following reasons: she had a purple velour sweatshirt with fairies on the front. Can you even IMAGINE? And, AND Candice lived on a farm. A FARM, peeps! A REAL LIVE FARM! And her parents grew things and ran a fruit stand we could drive to and buy my favorite 5 year old food in the entire universe...CHERRIES!! Sigh.
Candice was also the first girl in the Kindergarten to be able to read** the mystery word correctly when the teacher wrote it on the board. The deal was that the teacher wrote a word on the board, and whoever could whisper it correctly into the teacher's ear would get a special treat. The word was "Rabbit." Well, Candice's hand shot up the fastest and the first, and she must have said it correctly, because she was rewarded by a candy.* And not just any candy, mind you; it was a small marshmallow rabbit that the teacher took out of a ceramic rabbit shaped dish. I wanted one of those marshmallows so badly! I can't tell you how many times I whispered in the teacher's ear "rab-b-it." "Rab-b-it!" I kept getting it wrong, as one by one, the entire class earned their sweets. (Oh, and did I mention that the teacher actually took the time to draw a rabbit on the board right under the word "Rabbit?" The signs were everywhere, and they were flying right over my very intelligent five year old mind. ) Finally, FINALLY the teacher had compassion for my stick-to-itiveness, and she told me a little secret about only saying the "b" sound once. So I tried that, and guess what, it totally made sense. I had no idea what a Rab-b-it was supposed to be anyway, but a rabbit? Totally knew what that was! "OH, AND THERE"S A PICTURE OF A RABBIT, and the CANDY IS RABBIT SHAPED AND COMING FROM A RABBIT CONTAINER! OH! I GET IT NOW!" (You see the brilliance with which my teachers had to work? HOW were they to ever keep a mind like that occupied?) For the record, I would like to officially state here that they had not yet taught us the trick about when two of the same letters are next to each other. They just assumed we were all prodigious and precocious in nature; or maybe it was an experiment to separate the prodigy's from the...not so much. Hmmm.
The one drawback to kindergarten was the seating. We had to sit boy, girl, boy, girl. I think it was a tactic to keep us on task and not talking to our neighbor, since everyone knows that five and six year old's of opposite genders are coody petri dishes. This seating arrangement would have been a good plan, if the two boys I was stuck between (Read: Jim and Kelly)hadn't figured out that all they had to do was lean over me to converse at leisure. This was particularly annoying when it was lunchtime on rainy days, and we had to eat lunch at our desks. With two boys leaning over me to talk to each other every nano-second, how in the world was I ever going to reach my Twinkies? These are the things that cause undue stress to children.
Remember this, teachers! I have a child who is about to enter your classroom, and he is every bit as 3rd born and brilliant as I was at his age; He may even have an astute gift for comprehending the obvious. Better be ready...


*I know that these days, grown ups tend to frown upon giving children candy in class and whatnot. While I agree that it should not be a dietary staple, I DO Think that kids should be rewarded with a little marshmallow thingy every now and then. Don't you remember childhood? Those little things made it fun!

**I also realize that these days, the kids all enter Kindergarten actually knowing algebraic equations and are already reading and writing 4 languages fluently, but this was the early '80's, when kids were still allowed to be kids.

***When I proclaimed my love for David at home one evening, I was informed that no, I didn't really LOVE David; I had no idea what LOVE even meant. The person who informed me of this was my oldest brother. Being a 6th grader himself, he most definitely had the whole "love" thing already figured out.

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