Todler Torture

May 25, 2009
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When I was younger, I attended a preschool every other weekday. It was off Quentin road, which was just a minute from my house. It was a small modest building, with nothing but a couple offices and the classroom. Outside it had the most magnificent fenced in playground I had ever seen, complete with a yellow tube slide and monkey bars. My favorite part of the playground was the racetrack where I could race all my other classmates on tricycles and big wheels. The classroom was home to every toy you could imagine. There were dolls, legos, building blocks, dress-ups, you name it, and it was there. I would assume this would sound like paradise for a four year old, but for me, it was anything but that. This preschool was torture.
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I would wake up and get dressed, eat breakfast, go to preschool, and count down the minutes until my parents would come pick me up. This ritual happened for about two years, until I couldn’t take it any longer. Yes, they had a menagerie of different toys and activities, but there was one thing I absolutely could not stand. NAP TIME.

Naptime for me is full of very unhappy memories. I was not a tired child so for me to have to lie down on a cot for a half hour a day was horrible. I cannot even put into words how much I dreaded naptime each day. I thought my teachers were crazy, trying to get a class full of kids to go to sleep. Everyday when naptime came along, everyone would line up their cot, lie down, and fall asleep. Everyone that is, except for me. I would lie there for what seemed like an eternity just staring into nowhere. Sometimes I would try to talk to the other kids around me, but before my lips even made a sound, there was a teacher there shushing me and yelling at me to get to sleep.
Of course I didn’t think of it then, but looking back, it was almost like preschool boot camp. Imagine a room of toddlers in the camouflage and the evil drill sergeant teachers screaming at you if they could see the whites of your eyes! That’s how I felt constantly.
After my daily scolding for talking (or attempting to talk), would come my random thoughts.
“I wonder what were having for snack today…I hope its not ants on a log again, I hate celery…and peanut butter…and raisins…”
“I totally beat Tommy today in the tricycle race, I can’t believe he still got Joe’s cookie”
“Where are my parents while I’m being tortured? Why have they abandoned me?”
“I really wish I had a bow like Sarah’s”

This stage lasted the longest, and although it was silent, it still got me into a lot of trouble. Apparently if our eyes weren’t completely shut, our teachers weren’t happy. After our half-hour sentence was over, I would jump up and be the first to put my cot away. As I walked by the teachers on the way to play, I would always get the same “Who is this devil child? And why wont she just go to sleep?” look. I seemed to be a really big disappointment to my teachers.
One gloomy, rainy, depressing day I decided I would try something different and actually try to fall asleep. Naptime came and I retrieved my little blue cot from the pile and placed it right in front of my teacher’s chair. I Laid down, made myself comfortable, and closed my eyes before the warden had even called for silence.
Sleep did not come easy though. I was so excited about my clever plan to get on the teacher’s good side, I couldn’t fall asleep. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I could open my eyes and ruin my whole plan and have to suffer more disappointment, or I could be masochistic and just lie there, eyes closed, through my boredom and suffering. It was just a half-hour, right? Wrong. It was the longest half-hour of my life. I couldn’t open my eyes, move, talk, nothing. All I could do was think about how bored I was, and how mad I was at my parents for leaving me there.
Finally, naptime was over. I was so proud of myself for keeping my eyes closed for almost the whole time (I opened them once to see if it was over yet). I guess my teacher was pretty pleased with my accomplishment too, because she pulled my aside.
“Alex, I would like you to have this. I’m very happy you finally fell asleep”
In my hand was the most amazing ring I had ever seen. I was pink and plastic, the kind you pull off cupcakes, but it had a picture of my idol on it. The Amazing, blond hair, blue eyed, Barbie. I was so happy I vowed I would fall asleep everyday for the rest of preschool.

The days passed and I got better at keeping my eyes closed for the full half-hour, I might have even dozed off a couple of times. After the Barbie ring, I got a couple more rewards: a piece of candy, a sticker. But my incentives were gone as fast as they had come, along with my determination to fall asleep. Pretty soon I was back to my old self, tormenting the other teachers and children during naptime. I guess the moral of the story is sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, to get what you want. And I really wanted that Barbie ring.

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