Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Elementary School Memories: A Meme

As a disclaimer... I would not normally inflict my grade school recollections upon my blog in one glommey mess, and by extension upon y'all, but I have been hit with the meme. Mama D got me, and since I seem to have fared a little better than she did in the younger years... here it is.

Back when I was a wee five year old, the State of New Mexico did not have public school Kindergarten. I remember that I started off the school year down in Las Cruces where my dad was still a Cop, moonlighting at the Honda Cycle Center and finishing off his Masters in Business (Business Management?). My folks had sent me to a Kindergarten. I don't know if it was a "Catholic" Kindergarten, or just held at a Catholic church, but I do remember my teacher had the thickest and most glorious hair that she kept in one single braid. That braid, if my memory does not exaggerate, was four inches in diameter.

I have a few singular memories about the place and the kids, but the defining experiences would have to have been during recess. The kids segregated themselves into boys vs. girls. The boys chased and "captured" the girls and put them in "prison" under the metal jungle gym. I'm sure that a boy or so tried to "capture" me, apparently I wasn't into it. Nah... instead I donned my crocheted turquoise and white poncho and became some sort of avenging angel superhero. I would swoop in, impervious to the efforts of boys to stop or capture me, and set the captive girls free. As a five year old I couldn't understand why one or two of the girls wouldn't run when I "freed" them. I also remember thinking that most of those who ran sure didn't try very hard to not get caught again. In retrospect I'm surprised that as many allowed themselves to be set loose as they did. One way or the other, the game would have been much shorter lived without all my hard work (mm-hmm kudos to me). As it was, this seemed to always be the game that was played during recess for the first few months. Then a girl started attending who wore a black leather jacket and size nothing cowboy boots. She was a true tomboy, and she would climb to the top of the jungle gym with the boys and sit up there and laugh at the dumb girls down below. Me included.

Halfway through the year we moved. At our new house in Albuquerque I did not attend Kindergarten probably for a whole slew of reasons... money, time, finding a new place to send me yah-da, yah-da. My three older siblings went to their new schools and that left me home with my Mom and baby brother and I guess I was lonely. My mom tells the story of coming into the living room in our new house and finding me watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. He was apparently doing his "won't you be my neighbor?" shtick, and I was watching with tears streaming down my face and in a little hitching voice I answered,

"I'll be your neighbor, (sniff) Mr Rogers. (sniff, sniff)."

Another move later and we were in the house on Kiowa where I would spent the rest of my non-teen childhood. The school I attended was a public school but kind of experimental and had, in addition to the standard curriculum a pretty cutting edge gifted program. I got put into class after class of brainy kids and we were constantly having a great time learning stuff via Bloom's Taxonomy. I think because of the structure of the classes that I was put into from third grade on, I was saved a lot of the grief and crap that I experienced in first and second grades at the hands of some real "Mean Girls In Training." Girls who invented really great games like... ditching. The way you play ditch is you tell one "friend" that you will meet them at the swings and then hide by the tires and watch as the "friend" waits and looks baffled and hurt because you are not there. Also there must be three or more girls who do the watching and they must giggle and snicker at the pathetic and stupid "friend" as the hapless girl realizes they have just been ditched. Those girls will then later act as though nothing had happened. That sucked. The leader of this fun little social group was named Sherrie Dalton and she had straw blond hair that was naturally curly and hung in perfect ringlets. I know she was the leader because she never once got ditched, she always watched and laughed. To my knowledge I was a watcher only once, at least all I remember was the once and that sucked too. I wasn't able to laugh and snicker appropriately because I felt like puking when I saw the look on Terry Bowen's face, a girl that I really did like and who had done it to me several times. I didn't like her very much after that. I didn't like any of them very much after that. I didn't understand why they enjoyed watching and laughing. I know that I'm making myself out to be this saintly little squish-heart, it's not that I think I was all sweetie cakes and lovey-doo it's simply that these were some very important and defining moments... and I am a terminal squish-heart.

There are a few other stories where I don't smell like roses... like the time in first grade that I got dared to go tell Chuck what his name rhymed with. Dared by those same girls, come to think of it. I did and thought the kid was a complete wienie when he told the "On Duty." Sherrie Dalton, Terry Bowen and I all got sent to the principals office and I just knew that Mrs Provanzo was going to call my folks. I even had worked out in my head what the dreadful punishment was probably going to be.... washing the dinner dishes for a whole week! Imagine the fullness of MY joy when we walked out of there with just a talking to, w00t! I'm pretty sure that our folks would have indeed gotten a call if the principal thought for half a second that we had any clue what the word meant. Personally I'd never even heard the word before, yet sadly I struggle to this day keeping that little bomb of a word to m'self.

There ya have it... a slice of life. The End

I'm thinking about tagging YOU next, so be nice.


Nancy said...

That's cool. I'll have to delve deep in my memory banks and see if I can come up with any specific memories of elementary school -- they seem to come at the oddest moments, mostly when I'm not trying to remember and don't have any good way to record them. :-)

Fantastagirl said...

Why are kids so mean? and Ditching was pretty popular in my elementary school too.

Nikkie said...

I really don't understand why girls are so horrible to each other. We never played ditched at my elementry school, or if they did it never happened to me. That is just a horrible game!

Mama D said...

I love the thought of you in your poncho setting all the girls free. It made me think how strange it is that at such a young age we are compelled to play these sorts of games with boys. That most girls want the attention and to be 'caught' by the boys. I guess that kind of stuff is just deeply ingrained in us.

Aww... the Mister Roger's story... so cute and funny. I don't think I would ever want to be his neighbor, he's creepy. Mr. Dressup however. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!

Thanks for doing the meme. I know it's kind of a pain. You must really love me!

Nobody said...

Mr. Rogers ain't so bad, although he is a bit creepy. But it's that Mr. Mc FeelMe speedee delivery guy that worries me, he's really creepy.

anne nahm said...

Loved the chase game with the same secret embarrassment that I later loved trashy romance novels. Terrible. Fabio terrible.

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