WELCOME TO KINDERGARTEN

There I am. Probably the youngest kid in the class. I’m only four, but somehow, here I am anyhow. I’m certainly the smallest. All the others seem awfully big. I don’t know it yet, but I will always be either the shortest or next to the shortest kid in every class for the next six years.

P.S. 35 looks gigantic. Monstrous. Many years later, I will come back here and it will seem tiny, a school in miniature. Even the stairs are half the height of normal stairs.

But I don’t know about stairs yet because kindergarten is always on the ground floor. They don’t want the little kids getting run down by bigger ones.

The windows go all the way to the ceiling, which is very high. To open or close them, Mrs. O’Rourke has to use an enormous hook-on-a-pole. I wonder why they don’t have normal windows like we have at home. Our windows open by turning a crank; anyone, even I, can open them.

The teacher is kind of old and she’s got frizzy grey hair. She talks loud and slow. Does she think I’m stupid? Everyone in my family talks loud, but no one talks slow.

Now it’s nap time. We are supposed to put our blankets on the floor and go to sleep, but I don’t nap. I haven’t taken a nap ever, or at least not that I can remember. And anyway, I don’t have a blanket because my mother didn’t know I was supposed to bring one. I also don’t have a shoe box for my crayons. All the other kids have them. I wish I had one because I feel weird being the only one without a blanket and a shoe box.

Worse yet, I don’t have crayons. I wish I had some because the ones they have that everyone can use are all broken and mostly, the colors no one likes. My mother didn’t know what I was supposed to bring. She’s busy. I just got a new sister who cries all the time and mommy didn’t have time to come to school and find out all this stuff that all the other kids mothers know.

There were no air conditioners when I went there. We just sweated.

So I sit in a chair and wait, being very quiet, while every one is napping. I don’t think they are really asleep, but everyone goes and lays down on the floor on a blanket and pretends. It give Mrs. O’Rourke time to write stuff in her book.

It’s a long day and I have almost a mile to walk home. My mother doesn’t drive and anyway, she doesn’t worry about me. She knows I’ll find my way. It’s just the walk is all uphill and I’m tired. Why do I have to do this?

By the time I know the answer, I am in third grade.



Categories: Family, Life, Writing

Tags: , , , ,

12 replies

  1. Wonderful writing. Pulled at my heart strings.

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  2. Our infants school had a pole to open the windows as well. I wonder if all schools were built like that in the olden days 🙂
    It was only when I got to junior school that they had a crank.

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  3. Great post… you walked home alone at age 4? Amazing.(I started school in PS 32 until we moved a year later)

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  4. Immensely touching and sweet, Marilyn. You have captured the four year old voice perfectly. A lovely post. xxx

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  5. You’ve brought back some wonderful memories this morning Marilyn. I didn’t attend kindergarten, there was no such thing in the parochial schools I attended until after high school. It was St Clair grade school where I got my start. The penguin like habits worn by the precious blood sisters were all very intriguing to a young boy. What’s black & white, black & white, black & white? A nun rolling down the stairs. LOL

    Se. Clair Grade school was exactly as you described, brick with huge tall windows. Even those long sticks with the hooks on the end were used to open & close the windows. I actually googled St. Clair Grade School and retrieved a photo or two for another online post. It still exists. They sure don’t make them like that anymore. I wonder if the old wooden lift-top desks are still there? Some actually had inkwells in the tops for fountain pens. Did you ever use a quill or fountain pen? They weren’t the best thing to use for a first grader. Lots of girls in plaid uniform had their pigtails dipped in them. 🙂

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    • I think every single school in the NY public school system looked identical. Probably they used the same plans for all of them, making minor modifications to a few of them. They may not have been user-friendly, but they sure were sturdy. Only a wrecking ball brought those babies down! The local Catholic schools must have used the same plans because they also looked pretty much the same though they probably had internal differences. Those were the days when brick and mortar ruled.

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