My Beautiful Wickedness


First Day of School
August 27, 2007, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This morning as I walked to school I realized that this was an anniversary of some significance for me. I’ve been starting school every fall for the last forty years.

I started going to a pre-school in the fall of 1968 (after the failed attempt to jack me into first grade as a three-year old). I really needed the exposure to other kids, I guess, but I much preferred my slow gentle days of looking at the sunlight reflect off grass blades, stepping on the springy cool moss with bare feet, pouring gravel from hand to hand, and going off on adventures with my mother (who could make a bow and arrow from a couple of limber switches and a cattail frond, who knew all the names of things, who baked me scraps of pie dough sprinkled with a liberal handful of sugar and cinnamon, who had taught me to read and to print and to multiply by 2s and 3s and 5s and 10s and what more was there to be known, really?) The pre-school was taught by Mrs. Evans, a tall ginger-haired Dutch woman who was a disciple of Maria Montessori. It was housed in the bank basement, across from the vault — that didn’t seem odd to me at the time that a bank would have a community room in it, but now I wonder about that. I was an oddball child, too soft emotionally to deal with the minor rejections (I never have grown out of parallel play), quiet and startled by loud noises of the sort made by 20-odd kids on a playground. I was also marked as odd because all I wanted to do was read. Every free minute, over to the bookshelf I’d go. I had long ago exhausted the supply of books at home and there were new books every day at this place. What did I care about pasting cotton balls into pink pastel egg-carton shells? So I colored my Christmas ornament cut-out orange and black — big deal, it looked just like the pumpkin we had done six weeks before — what really mattered were the books.

The teacher tried to find ways to empower me, to make my weirdness cool. She let me sing the “states and their capitals” song from memory and teach other kids at the US map. I read the Pledge of Allegiance off a little card each morning. She let me read aloud to the other children — sort of a little para-teacher. Finally, she more or less gave up. The other kids were there to play and I was there to go crazy on the books and whatever else she had to give me. So, she brought in works for me and when all the other kids were playing kickball and house, I was happily stacking the pink blocks BY MYSELF, learning geography BY MYSELF. So much for socialization.

Anyhow, I was thinking about this experience as I walked to school today, looking at the sun shine on all the blades of grass and walking with my shoes off in the springy cool of the campus green…it all still gives me so much satisfaction, the learning new things and the teaching. But mainly, if left to my druthers? I still like to eat really hot piecrust
and read better than anything else in the world.

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2 Comments so far
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For the first time in years I’m not going back to school. It feels so weird to sit here and watch the parade of students and professors pass the house on their way to campus and I’m not with them.

Comment by listie

[…] reminisces beautifully about going (back) to school: This morning as I walked to school I realized that this was an […]

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