A couple of dear friends came over last night, and we talked at length about our memories of kindergarten. What we remembered from those early years varied considerably. While my husband could remember many small details (the color of the walls, the assorted toys, etc.) another friend had no memories whatsoever.
I remember quite a bit of that year. A few particular memories stand out.
I won a small glass giraffe as a prize at school. It has a rainbow swirl of colors twisting through its body, and I am instantly in love with it. Days later I drop the little animal behind the dresser in my room. I reach my tiny arm under the piece of furniture, but I cannot grasp it. I strain and struggle, yet I simply cannot will my arm to stretch any further. I can see the giraffe tilted on its side just beyond my fingers. Its rainbow colors are muted and dull in the dark space under the dresser, and it feels as if my heart is about to break.
I'm sitting in the classroom, crying, in the arms of my teacher. The rest of the students are outside at recess, and I can see them through the open back door of the classroom. The teacher is soothing me, trying to help me stop crying. What she doesn't understand is that I cannot help it. I simply do not know how to stop. The anxiety and sadness I feel has no explanation, thus it has no cure. I am a despondent little thing, and the tears flow freely.
Everyone in the class is settled down for nap time. No one sleeps, though. We are a group of squiggly, wiggly, giggly worms. But we try. We really do, because if you are quiet and still and good the teacher may tap you gently on the shoulder. This muted signal lets you know that you are chosen to play in the toy kitchen. I am desperate to be picked, because I want so badly to play with the little plastic eggs in the tiny ice box. They nestle sweetly in a plastic carton and when you "crack" one open a perfect yellow center is revealed. I need to play with those eggs, so I struggle to be as still as I can. I squeeze my eyes shut, and I know in my heart that I will be chosen any minute now. But when the lights go on, and I open my eyes I see that I was not special. I had not been chosen.
I am sitting on the front step of my house. It is a beautiful, sunny day, and I am enjoying being alone and quiet. Suddenly, my mother steps out with a tray in her hands. On the tray is my white plastic tea set. She gingerly sets it down beside me and shows me that the tea pot is filled with Kool-Aid, a treat we rarely if ever have. I am delighted beyond words. I fill a cup with the drink and carefully walk to our snowball tree. The boughs are heavy with flowers and they hang down in such a way as to create a perfect little room under the branches. I sit there watching the world through a gauzy white veil.