Kindergarten is all about life lessons, fitting in and making friends. My most vivid memory of Kindergarten was my 5th birthday, November 29, 1972.
To appreciate the story, you have to understand a few bits of background:
> My teacher, Mrs. Ritter was the meanest teacher I ever had in my entire life (this includes high school and college). She was old and long overdo to retire. She stopped liking 5 year olds by the early 1960's. Think Agatha Trunchbull in Matilda.
> I found out the first week of school just how mean Mrs. Ritter was. We were told to bring in something that dissolved in water for "science." Every kid brought in sugar or salt. What did my mom send in with me? A bouillon cube. The teacher snickered and decided to set mine on the window sill until it dissolved. I swear it took until Thanksgiving for that bouillon cube to dissolve in cold water. And Mrs. Ritter would point out every day to my embarrassment that my bouillon cube had not yet dissolved. You would think she would have given it a stir once in a while just to help me out....
> I didn't quite fit in well in Kindergarten. First off, my mom dressed me in really beautiful clothes. The stuff other kids wore to church and special occasions, I wore every day. I wore halter dresses and heeled sandals, plaid or print gauchos and blouses and patent leather Mary Janes, sweater dresses and tall boots, and herringbone tweed coats with faux fur accents. I didn't own a pair of jeans until 1978. I didn't own a t-shirt with writing on it until I bought my own in college.
> I walked to school. It was about a mile (no hills). So yes, at four years old, I walked a mile both ways to school down a busy avenue in my dainty clothes and shoes. No worries back then of child abductions. Only if the weather was exceptionally bad, my mom would give me a ride.
> There was a boy Colin Kelly who had a crush on me. He was a very cute Irish boy with very dark hair and porcelain white skin. His mom brought him to our house on Halloween because he wanted me to see his costume and to bring me Halloween candy. Although I secretly liked him back, I would tell my mom, "Yuck I can't stand Colin, he just stares at me with diamonds in his eyes, so I look back at him with mud in mine." My mom thought that was hilarious.
> The milk delivery was my favorite part of the day at school; it meant snack time was imminent. The janitor would come in and place cartons of milk just inside the door of our classroom right before snack time. We would bring snacks from home. My mom provided exceptionally good snacks - such as Tastykake Oatmeal Bars or Butterscotch Krimpets plus a piece of fruit such as an apple, grapes or a peach. Once a week, we would place our milk order. You had to choose chocolate or white and that was what you got everyday for the following week. If you forgot your money, there was no milk. No exceptions. I never forgot my money (I think it was 75 cents - 15 cents per day) and I always ordered chocolate.
So fast forward to my birthday. My mom ordered cupcakes from our favorite bakery for everyone in my class to help me celebrate my birthday. That day she drove me to school since I had a big load to carry. I was beside myself with excitement. I remember getting out of the car with my big box of cupcakes and suddenly realizing as my mom drove away that I forgot my milk money for the following week and it was due TODAY. I tried to run after the car, but it was too late. My heart sank as her car disappeared around the corner.
I cried all the way into school with my cupcakes in hand. Mrs. Ritter asked why I was crying and I told her I forgot my milk money. I begged her to let me bring it in tomorrow. Sorry, no exceptions. I cried all day at school and Mrs. Ritter made me sit in the corner on my birthday because I couldn't stop crying.
The following week, there was no milk for me at snack time. My eyes welled up each day when the janitor came in but I was afraid to let Mrs. Ritter catch me crying. By Wednesday, Colin came over and offered me his milk. It was white but it still tasted pretty good. I gave Colin my oatmeal bar to thank him. We were close friends for the rest of Kindergarten. Sadly, Colin's family moved that summer and I never saw him again.
Come 1st grade, I got Miss Honey for a teacher.
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There's No Crying in Kindergarten - Copyright © 2011, The Scott Loper Team, All rights reserved.