One of my first real memories that's all mine is going to Kindergarten with my neighbor Hans. I have always thought that I was four and it was a kind of step-up day where preschoolers could go to kindergarten for the day to see what it's going to be like. Only Hans is two years older than me, so if he was five, I'd have only been three. So now I'm not sure why I was there. I'd ask my mother but she doesn't remember what she had for breakfast most days.
Anyway, the memory of it that I have is playing "In and Out the Windows" out on the front lawn. We stood in a circle and the kid who was "It" would weave in and out of the people in the circle while everyone sang:
"In and out the windows,
In and out the windows,
In and out the windows,
As you have done before."
I looked up the lyrics online and I don't remember all those verses, but at one point you had to "Stand and face your partner" and I remember going in and out the windows and standing in front of Hans. I remember being too shy to pick any other kids. I remember it being sunny and I was wearing a dress. Mrs. Bossey was wearing blue.
I have lots of memories of kindergarten for reasons I cannot fully comprehend. I remember how the hall smelled, how our cups looked lined up in the kitchen ready for snack time, playing "The Farmer in the Dell" and how much I loved the felt board and box of wooden instruments.
Top O' the Hill Kindergarten was at the rectory, the same rectory that's still two doors up from my house. When I was five, my Grammie's house was a very short walk across the driveway from my school, which was both convenient and reassuring. I remember liking kindergarten a lot. I also realize in retrospect that I was ahead of the kindergarten learning curve. I remember vividly Mrs. Bossey showing us big cardboard flashcards with colored shapes on them, and underneath the shape was the name of the color written out. I could read the names of the colors, which is unsurprising when The Legend of Poops holds that I could read when I was four.
Anyway, it brings me to my first memory of ennui. You know that feeling of bleccccch you get when you're utterly disinterested in the status quo? It's more than boredom. It's being bored to the point of needing to lie down for awhile. I had that for the first time when I was all of five years old.
I was sitting at one of the low tables in the hall and I had a piece of yellow-lined, wide-ruled paper in front of me. Mrs. Bossey used to rip it in half length-wise so it was long and narrow--perfect for practicing writing lists of words. And for conserving paper, I imagine.
It was free time, and we were told we could do what we wanted, and I don't know if the felt board or the building blocks weren't doing it for me that day, or if there were already too many kids playing with those specific things or what, but I wound up with a piece of paper and a pencil at my desk. I couldn't think of anything to write, or perhaps my muse was feeling stifled on such a warm sunny day. I don't know. I started to doodle on the paper, making gray tornadoes and dark snakelike swirls. I leaned my head on my hand until it got too heavy to hold up, so I put it down and rested it on my arm. (I'd like to say that I was drawing pictures of dead birds or skulls and crossbones or something, but while it would be a good story, I didn't have the wherewithal to do it. I was too bored for that.)
Mrs. Bossey saw that I was rather listless and asked if I felt okay, or if I felt sick. I said I didn't feel good--which was true, I didn't--so she told me to go across the driveway to Grammie's house.
I did. Apparently the fresh air gave me new will to live and the lightly salted granny smith apple Gram gave me filled me anew with the joie de vivre of Being Five. And I bet it boosted my blood sugar too, which I'm sure didn't hurt either. Feeling remarkably better, I asked if I could go out and ride my bike and she said I could.
In full view of the kindergarten class I just left because I didn't feel well.
Dad had just taken my training wheels off and I remember the bike I was riding was still too big for me, but I was determined I was going to learn to ride without them. I was practicing and hot-damn-and-hallelujah I had figured it out! Proudly, I pedaled up and down High Street, turning carefully and steering into the hill when I needed to stop.
I remember the sight of my mother coming around the corner in the car and waving wildly and proudly at her from my bike. She didn't look thrilled that I wasn't in school.
I told her, when she asked me if "I only felt sick until I got to go out to play," that YES, that was exactly it. She was unsympathetic, but I don't recall getting into trouble. She wasn't impressed that I could ride my two-wheeler with no training wheels though. I want to think that under different circumstances I'd have received praise, but somehow I doubt it.
I wonder if Gram caught hell. Somehow I doubt that, too. After all, her cure for ennui worked, didn't it?