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The Most Valuable Thing I Learned In Kindergarten
I need to face it—my 5th grade year was awful. Terrible. I think my social mentality hadn’t yet gone from the Kindergartener phase (everyone likes you unless you’re mean) to the middle school phase (if you do nothing to amaze someone, they may dislike you.)
See, my basis of thinking was, and mostly still now, is that: “I don’t hate or dislike you, I won’t hassle you or anything.” But that’s not how fifth grade worked.
At the time I was chubby, had bad teeth, and no color whatsoever. I didn’t have a lot of street smarts, so they regarded me as a regulation dork. Not to my face, of course. Nobody was that much of a jerk.
One day it was discovered that, whenever I get the least bit angry, embarrassed, frustrated, hot, or fatigued, I turned from Pale Rider to Mr. Tomato Head, goofy cousin of Mr. Potato Head. That seemed funny to some of my peers. I won’t get in to all the details; the story in its entirety is pathetic. When people started jerking me around (messing with my stuff, making fun of something I said or did, etc.) I didn’t care at first, but after a while it really stressed me out. I thought: “Now this isn’t how you should treat another person. I’ll try to fix that.” So I politely told them to stop.
I don’t know what idiot would’ve thought that would work. So I moved onto the next and nerdiest step—telling. If ever I would try to tell a teacher, they would always come this close [please hold up thumb and index finger very close together] to sending me to the psychologist to be examined for OCD. Which I don’t have. Mostly. I guess that the teachers, all of them from our main teacher Mrs. Chandler to the gifted writing teacher Mrs. Glidden, to the art teacher Mrs. Yessenow, thought that I was imagining this, or was being mean to them in the first place. No teacher cared enough to see that—and I don’t mean to be pretentious here—I had done nothing to provoke the other kids.
I think my most horrible moment was when we played soccer on the lousy waterlogged field in Gym. I finally got my turn to be goalie. I sucked at defending in the field, and no one allowed me to play offense. So the blockhead Gym teacher, for now we’ll call him Mr. Syrup, made me goalie eventually.
I was doing well until Billy Johnson came in for one of those Bend-It-Like-Beckham midair kicks. I sort of jumped up a little bit to block it. In the process, my left arm moved into the trajectory of the ball to the netting. The ball, wet and extra heavy due to a design meant to prevent air-balls like this one, slammed into my arm and sent the arm into my face with an incredible amount of force. If it had been much heavier, it would’ve broken my neck in the way that your head suddenly snaps back.
Didn’t this happen before? Oh yes, 2nd grade Gym Class. Indoor Kickback. This type of kickback is not the illegal allocation of spendable funds, but a game in which the gymnasium is split at the half court line and the two teams go to either side. Then Mrs. Charmello would throw the ball in, and each side would try to kick the ball back to the opposing side. Pretty simple. Well, although it was totally accidental, what happened at the end of this game caused for me, a small phobia of ballistic red kickballs. The earliest part I remember was the ball sailing back to the opposing side. Before it hit the ground, Katie Smith power-tracked it back. I swear to god it was like the movies. The ball starts out small, and then gets larger and larger until WHAM! Lights out! It hits me directly in the face. Charmello knew enough to send me to the nurse. What happened there? She gave me a plain ice pack. A nurse’s prescription for all that ails ye. I swear as I left the nurse’s office, in the mirror I could see the word Voit printed backward around my temple area, because the acrylic paint hit harder than the rubber did.
When the soccer ball hit in fifth grade, my head basically exploded with snot. After research, I learned that when struck across the nose and cheekbones, you could damage a mucous membrane and cause a rapid release of snot. So I stood on the sidelines, not crying but slightly tearing up and flowing with a few cups of snot. Mr. Syrup was an inconsiderate halfwit and, like all gym teachers, was suspicious that I was trying to get out of class just to avoid sports. He refused to let me go get some tissues or wash it off. “Just walk it off,” he said. “We’ll go back inside in 15 minutes.” How do you walk off a shirt soaked with snot? And in Elementary School, you don’t change into other clothes for gym class, so I had to walk around all day with sticky sleeve.
No one else had any sympathy of course. They kept playing, a few looked over once in a while, rolling their eyes to show they didn’t care.
And 6th grade was better, but not by a lot. Due to the less than enjoyable experiences in 6th grade, there are some individuals who I still contemplate punching out every time I see them. The frightening moments in 6th grade are far too taboo for a 8th grade memoir, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.
Why couldn’t we all go back to the ways of Kindergarten, when everyone followed the golden rule? Sometimes boys and girls got a little too nice to each other, declaring that they were “in love” or “husbin ‘n wife”. We had no idea of what people do with each other when they’re in love (if ya know what I mean…) or the legal actions required to become husband and wife. But no one hated or made fun of anyone, kind of a philosophical thing, a way that all people of the world should behave. Just like Kindergarteners.