Today is the first day I teach kindergarten.
Kindergarten and I, we have an interesting relationship. Since I was homeschooled, I have zero school experience with any other grade. My kindergarten credentials are volunteering in a public kinder class for a couple years, and going to kindergarten myself.
I attended half-day kindergarten when I lived on an air force base. They fed us frosted animal crackers and Oreos, which got me in trouble once.
I felt a bit under the weather one day, not understanding that sometimes (…all the time) you can wake up and just feel physically blah. I think my tummy felt off. I wanted to stay home. I wanted to go to the nurse. My mom tried to nip my melodramatic bud and told me I could do neither, but, always aware that I might have a rare and interesting (but non-life-threatening) disease, I went to the nurse anyway.
She bought my pity story and sent me to hang out on the wood-chip playground with the other students until my mom arrived early. Somehow, I ended up hoarding a packet of chocolate cookies to eat later that day, even while solemnly informing anybody who would listen that I was too sick to play.
My mom didn’t buy that story, not with chocolate cookies in the hand of a girl complaining about tummyaches.
Other than that, I was the perfect student. No, I take it back: there was the time I asked the teacher if I could stop writing my numbers to 100 because I already knew them, and she had the nerve to tell me to keep writing them, anyway. I think I sat there for a good while confused about the inefficiency and monotony of this task. Maybe that explains why I’m so bad at math.
But yes, I was a goody-two-shoes. I hung out with a goody-two-shoes blonde and felt sorry for the rather ditsy but goodhearted girl named Taylor. I stopped feeling sorry for her and started envying her profundity when she shared in gym class, “Whenever my brother and I would say, ‘They started it,’ my dad would say, ‘Well, who will end it’?”
(I felt equally profound when I started butting into my mom’s disciplinary moments with this wisdom.)
Taylor, the blonde, and I were all day, every day green card students. I never got my green card pulled. Not once. I was the only student who managed that feat. And I do mean manage, because I happened to stop running in the hall right as a teacher rounded the corner and pulled the green card of every running child — which was all of us, even the blonde and Taylor.
They were mortified. I felt bad, because I knew I should ‘fess up and get my card pulled too, but I was no Abe Lincoln, not at age five.
That’s part of the reason why I don’t use clip charts or stop light cards in my class (yet). I work with inner city kids, and I’m told they’re a tough crowd. But I’m hoping that respect, kind words, reason, and a look of withering boredom will keep them in line. And Play Dough.
Well, I’m off to make sure seventeen kids learn how to read and don’t stab each other with pencils. Wish me luck, and share your kindergarten memories with me so I can have something entertaining to read if the first day goes horribly. :)
P.S. Fellow nerds: I learned how to do a close reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is literally the best thing that happened to me all week.