Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What We Leave Behind

(Ed. note: just after I posted this, I recalled the horrifying moment during which Her Honor's mother, my sixth grade math teacher, said to me on the first day in her class, "Oh, yes, I certainly remember you. You had such a lovely little white dress for kindergarten graduation, that you pulled up over your head." I wanted to d-i-e when she said it. Miss Bernadean scares me to this day, although I count her daughter among my friends in Hopkins' graduating class.)

I've just been reminded that I was in kindergarten for three years- not because I was that slow, mind you, but because I started when I was three years old.

You're reading that correctly. I should've graduated from high school in 1985, two years ahead of when I actually did. I was precocious enough that I was starting to get on my mother's nerves by the time I turned two; I was already fully articulate and could read and speak well enough to order coherently from a restaurant menu without assistance. After fending off a couple of well-meaning little old ladies who thought I was a Little Person while we were having lunch at Kunz's The Dutchman in Louisville, Mom decided she needed to do something with me.

I was a big pain in the butt to the ladies at the daycare center, too. The private kindergarten was housed in the same church, and they were tired of my incessant lobbying to go across the hallway where the kids were reading books. On the daycare side, we had our choice of blocks, Lincoln Logs, or Tinker Toys, and vegging out to the employees' "stories" on television. I was considered a problem because I wouldn't sit quietly and play, or mindlessly watch soap operas- I'd harass the ladies about everything from ancient Egypt to my dog to the mythological creatures in my books at home. I also wouldn't take the obligatory nap. Yes, I was a total daycare failure!

By mutual agreement, Miss Margie accepted me into the kindergarten a couple of years early, after my parents presented her with my off-the-scale Stanford-Binet scores. It was that or endure my disassembly of a few more small appliances because I wanted to see how they worked.

The biggest problem with kindergarten was that I couldn't understand it at the end of the year when my friends Abbe, Ann, and Will promoted to the first grade and I didn't. I took the test with Miss Bernice, who lived up the street from us, and apparently I passed it, because Miss Lucille, the superintendent, talked to my parents. Still, the next fall, back to Miss Margie and the kindergarten for yours truly.

Again, at the end of the year, everybody took the test. This time, Tim, Kay, Katy, and yes, Hopkins, all promoted to the first grade without me.

When school started again in the fall, guess what? Back to kindergarten, to a third set of classmates. At the end of that year, I was allowed to promote, with Beverley, Kelli, Danny, Eric, Joey, Melane, Kasey, the Keltner Twins, and a bunch of other people. We were more or less together until May of 1987, when we all graduated from high school.

What my parents failed to anticipate about any of this is that so many of my friends, most of the closest ones, anyway, were one or two years older. While I had friends in my own class and did befriend some folks younger than myself, my senior year was fairly lonely. My parents meant well, but I wish they had promoted me, instead of holding me back due to my age. Mom's logic was that she had "missed out" by skipping the fourth grade, and she didn't want me to feel the same way...but my situation was vastly different.

I remember that Tim pulled my hair every day, and we had to sit up front on either side of Miss Margie. I remember that Hopkins pulled the nose off my precious Snoopy doll. I remember Dawn's cowgirl outfit that I thought was THE most awesome set of clothing ever. I don't remember anything from the next year except the fall that caused the scar through my right eyebrow and put me in the pirate eye patch for two weeks.

Man, it's weird what stays with me, and what's already gone...

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