The Best Part of Kindergarten… Geometry, Tricycles and Hair-Pin Turns
…And snack, and recess, and reading, and friends, and the swings…..
The Worst Part of Kindergarten… NAP TIME!
How did anyone think lying on the hard floor on a paper thin (smelly) mattress with my overly-babyish blanket was supposed to be restful? Every day it was the same thing. Unroll the tube, spread out your blanket, lie down and BE QUIET…Seriously?
Who decided that quiet was good for five year olds? Don’t worry that the tired little bodies around me weren’t moving and my restless fidgeting didn’t seem to awaken anyone. My hoarse whispers hung heavy in the air, unanswered.
Where’s My Magic Wand?
It was rumored that through quiet you could earn your way into stardom. The most compliant became the prince or princess with the magic wand that got the opportunity to bash (I mean gracefully touch) all of the other sleeping princes and princesses on the head, signaling the magical time to awaken and move toward the big square of industrial-grade carpet, where the teacher would read from one of the gigantic picture books each afternoon.
Today would NOT be that day for me. I would not be chosen to awaken the sleeping masses; at least not by the teacher and not with a wand. Today was the day I once again got to get up and move my foam roll to the edge of darkness. Close to the wall where my ongoing and apparently audible conversation with the universe wouldn’t bother my fellow classmates.
What I didn’t know though was that today would be MY LUCKY DAY and tomorrow would be the BEST DAY EVER.
The Special Box
After nap, and the book reading ritual, my teacher went to her special box. This box was full of the names of only the good kids. You had to earn your way into the box. More often than not my name was clipped on the board NEXT to the box, waiting to fall in by accident because generally when I earned my way in, I usually earned my way out just as quickly. At five years old it was very difficult to understand how talking could be such a good thing and such a punishable action all in the same day… (Sigh). But today was different. My name was in that box! The teacher was now going to reach into the box and pull out the names for the coveted leadership positions for tomorrow…”Line Leaders” and “Milk Monitors”.
The first name pulled was for the girls’ line leader. It wasn’t mine. The second one was for the boys’ line leader. It wasn’t mine either…
(Hey it just dawned on me this process could have been somehow rigged. How did my teacher always pull the right gender for the right role?)
I held my breath. The Milk Monitor job was now ready to be filled. This job epitomized freedom, strength, agility and speed! It SPOKE TO MY SOUL. I was put on the earth for this task!
Two names would be pulled. Here comes the first one…
“Darn it! Not me again. I’m never going to get picked!”
It was a friend of mine; one of the smallest boys in our class.
I thought to myself, “Well how is he going to manage? He’s not big enough to pull the wagon with the trike. His feet can’t even reach the pedals.”
As I was calculating how long it would take him to even load up the wagon I concluded that we would most certainly miss snack tomorrow. My thoughts were interrupted when I heard my name. The disbelief was strong at first but my classmates brought me back to reality with their ceremonious congratulations of pounding me on the back and socking me in the arm. (This is how we showed love and support).
Tomorrow, I would be part of the ELITE that ventured to the cafeteria with our tricycles and wagons to pick up the ½ pints of milk for our morning snack. I had been waiting all year for this opportunity. The adventure was laced with freedom and responsibility. Oh the thrill of going all the way to the cafeteria and back unaccompanied by any adult!
The Best Day of My Life
My day was here. I woke up early that morning with extra time to plan just the right outfit for my masterful debut. This was definitely a “shorts-under-the-skirt” kind of day. I also decided on wearing my bright pink poncho that my grandma had crocheted. It was the closest thing I had to a super-hero cape that I was allowed to wear to school. There was bound to be serious velocity on that trike coming down the last stretch from the cafeteria, and I could just imagine the exhilaration of speed as my cape (poncho) flew behind me. My saddle shoes were perfect. They had soles with good traction. My other shoes were too slick on the bottom and I couldn’t afford a malfunction while riding the trike. There was an unspoken, fierce competition from the other kindergarten class. They too would be on this trek and the first team back won bragging rights.
Let the Adventure Begin
The morning couldn’t have passed any slower. Snack was at 10:30. At 10:15, right after recess we were sent on our adventure. As I had hoped, my partner was indeed too small to ride the trike. I was in luck, the job defaulted to me. The rule was that one kid drove the trike and wagon (usually the boy), and the other walked behind to make sure all was okay (usually the girl). Today the roles were reversed. I was the driver. Both kids had to help the lunch-ladies load up the wagon with the milk. The box of graham crackers was carried by the lookout partner. This was like driving the stage coach full of gold in a old Western movie. Who knew what perils could be lurking around the next corner? The team from the other kindergarten class consisted of one of the bigger boys and smaller girls. He would be driving. Game on! We couldn’t lose to them.
The Path to Victory
The path back to the classroom from the cafeteria was a sidewalk. It gently sloped down from the building and around to the right. The turn however was not for sissies or amateur trike riders, and there were mud puddles on either side where the sprinkler-water pooled. After clearing the corner and the puddles, it was a straight shot to the classrooms at the end of the school. Getting up to the cafeteria required effort, as it gently sloped uphill. Thankfully the wagon was empty and if you had a willing partner they pushed from the back. I don’t know if he was willing but I told him he had to. He did. Downhill would be so much better.
The rule was that the partner not riding the trike carried the graham crackers and walked carefully behind the wagon ensuring that none of the milk cartons fell out. There was another rule about not going too fast and being careful… (Okay, whatever! Aren’t things with wheels supposed to go fast?)
I had already explained to my partner that we needed to load up quickly. I wanted to beat the other team back for bragging rights. Apparently the lunch-ladies don’t like “loading quickly”. At the top of the path, ready to go back, both teams arrived at the same time.
“Girls first” I shouted.
Over my shoulder I followed up with “I double-dog-dare you to catch me!” and off I sped.
My partner was yelling from behind “Wait for me! You’re supposed to go slow!”
As I rounded the turn to the right onto the home stretch, I could hear the other trike coming fast. The whir of the wheels was accompanied with the mutterings of something that included “dumb girl” and “I’m going to catch you”. I swung out a little to my left once I passed the mud puddles making sure to lean to the right providing counterbalance in order to make the turn. My trike handled like a well-oiled machine, only slightly lifting to one side. Just as I had envisioned my race; pink poncho flying behind me like a super-hero’s cape; the wind in my hair and up my skirt…always thankful to be wearing shorts.
I was nearly to the classroom doors when I was awakened from my reverie by squeals and a crash behind me. Apparently my fierce competitor cut the corner too sharp and there was an overturned wagon with ½ pints of milk everywhere including the mud puddles. Torn between stopping to help and finishing the race I decided to continue on as the lunch-ladies were already running to assist. I had won the race. Bragging rights were mine. No one was hurt. The race was epic, and the legend was retold for years! My class got their snack. I don’t know about the other class though. I do know that I personally DID NOT get snack that day. I did however get to go back up towards the cafeteria, which is adjacent to the Principal’s office. Although I would never be Milk Monitor again, it was a great day!