Also, The Snacks Sucked

I attended kindergarten in a squat nondescript 1960s-era building. Years later I had some of my 8th grade classes there when my hometown decided to add 7th grade to the junior high school and that school ended up annexing the building. In January of that year I walked into the building to hear that the Space Shuttle Challenger had disintegrated.

But the bad memories started in kindergarten. I had the misfortune of having a teacher who wasn’t quite sure what to do with young hyperactive me. I had given up naps long before I went to school, yet the teacher was determined that I’d lie down on a mat and close my eyes. I worked long and hard at that.

And yet, the teacher knew there was something wrong with me. Eventually she pulled my parents aside. “I think he may be anti-social and I think he may be slow. You should have him tested.”

My mom, of course, freaked the hell out. There was something wrong with her first-born son! My dad the university professor got one of his colleagues in psychology to run me through a battery of tests.

The result: my IQ was more than fine and I seemed socially well adapted. “He’s reading?” he asked my parents. “My guess is he’s bored out of his mind.”

At one point in the school year, when I was sitting on the toilet, another kid peed on me. Later they weren’t going to let me graduate from kindergarten because I didn’t know how to skip, so I got to spend weeks learning how.

Here’s hoping Eli’s memories are better!

9 thoughts on “Also, The Snacks Sucked

  1. Wow, I read posts like this and think, “yet another argument for homeschooling!” Good luck to Eli!

  2. I dunno, I think it’s an argument for homeschooling in the same way someone saying, “My friend in Canada had to wait three months for a nose transplant!” is an argument against a government insurance option: it’s one anecdote that may or may not indicate a trend. I can counterbalance my kindergarten experience with my third and fourth grade experience, where I had one of the most wonderful teachers of my entire grade school.

  3. My kindergarten story:
    My dad would travel for two weeks to Guam every year as a part of his Naval Reserves Training. I was sad, my mom told my teacher that my dad had just left. She pointed to another girl and said–her dad is dead, he isn’t ever going to be back. Somehow, that didn’t comfort the five year old me.4

  4. You should read Brett’s memoir of the few months he spent in daycare when he was four. He also had someone pee on him, though fortunately it only hit his shoe. Unfortunately, he also witnessed some outright physical abuse. I think we still have a long way to go in learning how to best teach our little ones, but I’m thankful we’ve come as far as we have in the last thirty years.

  5. I had the same experience in kindergarten re: reading. My kindergarten teacher believed that everyone and everything should be done by the book, at the same pace and in the same order, and no excess levity would be permitted. Since I was already reading when we were still working on letters and colors, I was bored out of my mind and had a short attention span for the material I already knew. My teacher told my parents she thought I had a learning or behavioral disorder because I wouldn’t pay attention.

    Luckily, the principal of my elementary school just happened to be a former school psychologist who did a lot of reading tests, so she tested me and I ended up four grade levels ahead of my peers. I got to play a special computer game at the computer lab (oh Apple IIGS, how I miss thee!) and was actually allowed to check out books from the older kids’ section at the school library. The teacher got back at me in other ways (kindergarten was a miserable year), but luckily I got a few good teachers in a row after that and I learned that I actually liked school.

  6. Only spotty memories of kindergarten. The first day… what seemed like a huge flight of white marble stairs to the door… not understanding why my mommy looked kinda sad when she had said this was going to be exciting… or why some of the kids were crying … and then not understanding when they said they missed their mommies… my mommy said she was coming back for me so, surely, theirs would, too (And my mommy did! And she was smiling!). I remember show and tell, but not what I showed or told. Were there books in the room???… only the ones the teacher read to us, I think. Naps were on towels on the floor and I didn’t sleep either. The cloak room was kind of scary and it smelled strange. The snacks sucked, then, too. Snacks when I got home were much, much better – sliced apples and cinnamon on thick slices of buttered bread. Yummmm.

  7. I got in trouble for talking in kindergarten because, well, I knew how to read and all that claptrap already. But unlike you, Stephen, I met my childhood best friend that year, and he and I are still friends to this day. Introducing Rick to Josh was a lot of fun when Rick and I went to Ohio a couple years ago to see Over the Rhine play … 🙂

  8. Kindergaarten was fine for me, I got lucky in having a supervisor who didn’t bat an eyelid at my habit of making fairly intricate paintings for my age and then painting them black and insisting the black version be displayed with the other kids’ pics. He also spoke to my Mum and /listened/ to what she said, so my being able to read was picked up early on and I got to bring in my own books instead of learning letters. Big school though… best not mentioned.

    Eh, I weigh in on the side of nursey/kindergaarten being beneficial – it socialises kids and builds up their immune systems with all those lovely new diseases they get exposed to in the group setting. Also many of my work colleague have no choice other than nursery as they’ve got to work if they like fancy things like living indoors (my area is so economically depressed that my female co-workers doing low-paid secreterial work are often the main breadwinner while their husbands/partners who got laid off end up doing ‘off the radar’ cash in hand work on the land).

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