My earliest school memories are a little blurry. I remember the look and layout of my kindergarten classroom and I remember having warm and fuzzy feelings towards my teacher, Mrs. Hershey. It's hard to know whether she was really that great or if it was just that her name was the same as my favorite food that engendered good will towards her. My favorite time was art, because I was obsessed with drawing pictures of myself wearing my favorite dress - my Easter dress from 1983, which was all white with puffy sleeves, a smocked bust, and thin slivers of ribbon trim at the bottom in blue, pink, and baby duck yellow. The ribbons were (obviously) my favorite part to draw and I was always very careful to make sure I drew them in the correct order that they actually appeared on my dress.
I went to a school called Parkview for kindergarten through 2nd grade, which was a slightly rundown, tan colored low-slung building from the 70's. We moved across town the summer after second grade, so when any of my memories take place at Parkview, I know I'm remembering Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade.
I remember almost nothing about 1st grade. I can't even remember my teacher's name or conjure a visual of her in my head when I try. The same mostly goes for second grade, although I'm pretty sure my teacher was Miss Nelson. I remember this because there was a book that we used to read at home called Miss Nelson is Missing about an elementary school teacher that goes missing and it felt a little like I was associated with a quasi-celebrity by having an actual Miss Nelson for my teacher. It's possible Miss Nelson was actually my first grade teacher and the person I really don't remember is my second grade teacher. I know that there was another kid named Tim with the same last name as me and he liked to walk with scissors, eat paste and generally behave very poorly and my mother suffered much angst over the fact that people thought we were twins because of our shared last name.
I remember participating in the 'Pumpkin Run' at school in first or second grade (if it's not obvious, this was a "fun run" type activity that the school did during school hours in October each year) and eating shit super hard on the asphalt after literally 2 steps. It was a telling start to my lifelong non-relationship with running. I was mortified and sat with a teacher and an ice pack on my skinned knees while everyone else ran laps around the outdoor play area.
I remember there was a boy named Vincent who liked to chase me at recess and when I expressed my distress at this to my Mom, her advice was "Well, if you don't run, he can't chase you." This advice blew my mind. It was like my mom was a genius and a total moron at the same time. Because while factually true that it is impossible to chase a stationary object, it was the first hint I had that parents didn't know anything about being 6.
For most of my early elementary school years, I walked to school each morning with fellow neighbors and siblings, Craig and Kristin. They were older than me and knew the way and I was totally reliant on them to find my way to school. Perhaps another early indicator - this one of the oblivious car passenger I was bound to be as an adult. It was a winding route we took to school and they could have led me into the woods and left me for dead and 100% I would have followed them without question. When they went on vacation once I had to walk to school by myself and I literally wept with fear of getting lost. My Mom decided to make this a teaching moment and spent more time instilling confidence in me that I could do it by myself than it would have taken her to just drive me to school herself. I don't actually have any memory of the dreaded walk to school and I obviously didn't die so presumably it went fine, but I vividly recall weeping to her that I didn't even understand which button on the telephone poles made the correct crosswalk sign light up - Craig always hit those buttons for us. Again, my mother offered extremely accurate and totally moronic advice, "Just hit all the buttons on the telephone poll and eventually the one you need will turn to 'walk'". If I didn't understand anything about arrows and which way they pointed, then grown ups understood nothing about pride.
And lastly, I offer you this gem of a memory:
In either kindergarten or first grade, I was slated to start after-school care at the YMCA. I had gone there for full time care in the summer and was familiar with the facility, but the after-school program required me to wait for the YMCA van to pick me up in front of the school after class let out. I was shown where to wait in advance and was nervous but prepared. While waiting I was approached by a girl a year my senior who introduced herself as Jojo. Jojo told me that she had been getting picked up by the YMCA van after school for a while and that the drivers always thought it was super funny when the kids hid and they had to look for them at pick-up. Being a genius, I agreed that this did sound kind of funny. Also, I wanted to make a friend and be 'cool'. So we hid in a window well of the school, just around the corner from the pick-up location. I can picture the window well with Jojo and I crouched inside it together perfectly. I don't have any idea how long we hid, but I was told later that it was long enough to completely panic what I'm sure now was probably a 21 year old camp counselor-type who most definitely didn't think it was funny that 2 young girls were missing from the agreed upon pick-up location. Authorities may have been called, I don't remember. Eventually, we were located and taken to the YMCA headquarters where I proceeded to realize the scale of my error in judgement and spent the next 2-3 hours in a complete panic about what my mother would say when she picked me up and was told what had happened. This began a long and manic friendship with my more than a little WT friend Jojo that I'm 100% certain as a parent now terrified my parents and may have been a contributing factor to our move across town where I would hopefully start fraternizing with children who had better ideas of what would be "super funny".
These stories all have a slightly negative slant to them, which wasn't my intent at all. I swear that I had a happy and hilarious childhood with supportive parents and friends that weren't a bad influence! These were just some of the more entertaining stories that come to mind when I think of my early elementary school days. Stay tuned for my adventures of 3rd-5th grade at a new school in which I accidentally fart during Silent Sustained Reading, plagiarize a book report and get caught, and make friends with the school janitor named Fred.